Bell Plumbing for Sewer and Gas

** Highly Recommended **

In May of 2019 I signed a contract for Bell Plumbing to trench and install the Gas and sewer lines for new construction. This work involved trenching from the house out and completely across the street – a major operation. The manager Greg was very familiar with the area having done major sewer work 2 houses away. Bell is extremely fair in pricing, explained all of the options clearly and performed the work fast and professionally. I highly recommend Bell Plumbing for Sewer and Gas trenching from the street to the house in Menlo Park.

I had an estimate from another company that was almost double the estimated price from Bell for the gas line with a one line broken english description of the work – what a joke! In contrast, Bell gave me multiple options and estimates for the sewer and gas with full descriptions of the work needed. Several other contractors simply refused an estimate as they were too busy. In the end I am grateful to Bell Plumbing to squeeze the work in their tight schedule while not taking advantage of us on price.

Thank you Bell Plumbing!!!

Joe Junkin
Menlo Park

The sewer had three options:
Trenchless: the existing line has to be 36 inches below grade around the sidewalk. We were around 32 so this was not an option. Otherwise a great choice.
Liner: The existing line is scoured and an epoxy liner is expanded within the original pipe. This option was cheaper then a full trench but not by much. I worried about the narrower old pipe (approximately 4 inches) vs new and the condition of the old rusty iron pipe as it had a break.
Full trench: In the end I selected this option because the main was fairly close to our house. I was happy to see a massive pipe around 5-6 inches used for the connection to the main. The pipe looked like it will last for forever.

The gas line was designed by PG&E and was a full trench across the street completely to the other side – so it was very expensive. There were steel plates across the road for about a month. First PG&E has to design the trench which takes months. Then the contractor digs the trench and places the steel plates down. Next PG&E has to inspect the trench so the plates need to be moved again after which they are replaced. In 2 weeks PG&E comes back and lays down the new gas pipe – which requires another steel plate shuffle. Finally the line is backfilled and the temporary paving is put in place. Weeks later the city mandated the street to be torn up and repaved far beyond the actual trench. Final job was to seal the asphalt.

In the end, PG&E set the level of the gas popup line next to the house too low so a yellow marking was not above ground. This became a problem when realized after the fact. To be clear, PG&E specified the level of fill under the line. Clearly they made a mistake by not ensuring the mark was above grade. Although we worked out a solution where we dug out an area around the riser line so the mark is visible and accessible, the PG&E crew should have been on the ball and verified that the riser was at the correct level. We almost had to dig up and move a portion of the line. If you get this work done, be sure the popup riser is properly above grade before they backfill!


PG&E Gas Line Issues

The gas line install was incredibly expensive – in excess of $30K. Given that menlo park is not going to allow gas in new construction – except for a stove – you may want to consider foregoing a gas hookup completely. For us, the planning and construction of the new line was extremely disruptive, expensive, time consuming and caused serious stress.

Design was more than $10K. This for a single page plan that showed the trench from the main to our new gas meter. This process took 1-2 months.

The gas line trench and install in the street took more than a month and for at least that long there were metal plates over the trench which were messy and disruptive.

Once we had the design we were ready to start. But it was months before we actually broke ground.