Five Things – Gibson’s Gallery Drainage


  • Gibson’s Mineral Gallery at The Broadmoor was in need of new outside drainage due to last year’s heavy rains and flooding.
  • We replaced and reconnected missing and broken sections of pipe.
  • Stormwater now goes into a pit which will pump out at the end of the line.
  • The concrete was replaced with the hotel’s signature color, Broadmoor Buff.
  • Gibson’s is filled with unique furniture, jewelry and other artisan selections from American craftsmen.


Five Things – Widefield Blvd Sewer Replacement

  • The first houses in Widefield have orangeburg sewer pipe.

  • Orangeburg was made of wood pulp and pitch, and feels like an oil-soaked cardboard or layers of tar paper.  It was manufactured in Orangeburg, New York, and was used in the 1860s until the 1970s.

  • Orangeburg is highly susceptible to root intrusion and becoming egg-shaped.  Its useful life is 10-50 years.

  • At this job, the sewer was egg-shaped where we tied on at the sidewalk. We did not go all the way to the main.

  • We were referred to the homeowner from a high school friend.



Spring Cleaning

Every year, I swear I’m going to embrace that “Spring Cleaning” thing …. pull out the heavy furniture and vacuum underneath, air out the drapes, wipe down every surface in the house.  And every spring goes by with my typical “lick and a promise” cleaning, the usual mopping or dusting that doesn’t quite reach the places that only get cleaned when we MOVE OUT.  But while the dust bunnies are not harmful or damaging, there are a few things you might want to put on your mental Spring Cleaning list that can save you money in the long run.


1.  Clean your gutters.  With spring and summer rains coming, it’s so important to clear out the leaves and pine needles that have accumulated over the last year.  If you live in Colorado, you know how unpredictable the weather is, to the point of epic flooding.  Water that is not carried away from your home via your gutters and downspouts can seep down to your foundation, potentially causing damage that can be costly.

2.  Consider upgrading your gutters and downspouts.  Older homes typically have 3″ gutters, but the new standard is 5″.  If your gutters are starting to rot or separate, think about installing larger ones that can handle a heavy downpour.

3.  Check your drainage while you’re at it.  As you walk around your house, cleaning the gutters, make sure water will run away from your house, not toward the foundation.  A peripheral drain will help keep water from running into your basement or crawlspace, keeping mold and other air quality issues at bay.  If you think you need an expert to look at the drainage surrounding your home, give us a call.  Remember that while rain is one obvious cause of wet basements and foundation damage, groundwater or underground springs are not as apparent, but just as damaging.

4.  Keep your sewer free and clear.  Have a reputable company snake your sewer yearly.  (Call us for a referral if you need one.)  If you are not sure about the condition of your main line, we can camera the line and give you an honest assessment.  Then, once your line is clear and any roots are freshly cut, use a foaming root killer to keep those roots from infiltrating the line.  Since roots typically grow into the top of the pipe, we prefer the foaming root killer instead of using something like copper sulfate that will flush through the bottom of the pipe.

The structure of your home needs upkeep as much as the interior.  Save one of these beautiful Colorado days for a bit of work and protect your investment for years to come!


A sinkhole? In Colorado????

It’s not the usual phone call we get: “We think we have a sinkhole in the Broadmoor area near the golf course.”  A sinkhole?  This had to be checked out immediately.  Once we pulled up, this is what we saw.  Notice the depression in the asphalt.


After crawling across the asphalt and shining a flashlight into the pothole, we found a bigger hole.  MUCH bigger.  By Joe’s measurements, it was 11′ feet down to the bottom!  Technically, this wasn’t a sinkhole, at least not the type you read about that swallow houses in Florida.  A 4′ culvert that ran under the road rusted and disintegrated over time.  Without that large pipe to carry away rainwater and snow melt, and that most powerful force known as water washed away the soil beneath the asphalt.  Our crew has excavated over 300 tons of wet dirt and pieces of culvert until a new pipeline can be installed.  It’s a very slow process that takes time and patience.

Anyone got a shovel?

We brought in a trackhoe that will extend 22'.

We brought in a trackhoe that will extend 22′.

Location, Location, Location.

In the excavating business, locating utilities before a job is a crucial step to take.  Today we explain that while it is important to “call before you dig,” there’s more to it than simply making a phone call.

Obviously, we need to know what utilities and lines are underground or overhead before we start digging.  Sometimes we may even need this done before we can give an accurate estimate because the route we take can be affected by what’s in the path of digging.  Electric…gas…water…sewer…high voltage…cable…phone…irrigation…traffic lights…fiber optic…these provide service to a house, a neighborhood, a shopping center.  It can be very costly and inconvenient if a line is damaged or cut.  Hitting a fiber optic line could put a company out of business.  Hitting a high pressure gas line could cost a worker their life.  Having as much information as possible before we excavate is a must.

It is important to know that Joe Frei Excavating will call for the locates of a project.  Not only do we relay specific information about where locates are needed, but the liability is then on us as a contractor.  Beware of a company or person who asks the homeowner to request locates – they may be working “under the radar”.  If you have an emergency, we will call it in as such and the locates will be done in a short window of time, maybe 1-2 hours.  We will be on site to meet the locators in this situation.  For all other situations, we must allow 3 days for the agencies to locate their services.  For the most part, locates are free but in some instances, we may hire a private locator if we think additional work is warranted.  If you are planning on digging in your yard to plant a tree or install a sprinkler line, you should call 811 yourself, allowing 2 days after the day you call to dig.

After we make the appropriate phone calls, we will receive notifications by fax or email if the area is clear or has been marked.  The remainder of the locates are done by a representative who comes to your property, determines where the service runs, and marks it with the appropriate color spray paint or small flag.  Different colors mean different things:


Joe has a lot to watch out for while installing a new water main behind this shopping center. In addition to high voltage electric and gas lines in the alley, each business has its own utilities coming out the back.  On this project we are using high-pressure water and a hydrovac to expose the utilities.

Once we start excavating, we are careful not to hit any marked lines.  Sometimes we may be gingerly digging next to, or even under, a service.  Joe can often “feel” something unusual, even using the excavator.  He often hand-digs around a line if he thinks it is necessary.  Locators are allowed 18″ of leeway to either side of a located line.

After all of this prep work, the locates are not 100% accurate.  Sometimes there may be old, abandoned lines that are not in an agency’s records.  It’s helpful for us to talk to folks that are familiar with the property and gather as much information as possible.

When we install a new service or water line, we run tracer wire along with the pipe in the ditch before we backfill.  By doing so, future locates on these lines will be more accurate and easily found.

And that is why location is important!

All In a Day’s Work


Every now and then, we get the chance to do something out of the ordinary in our business, something that doesn’t have anything to do with broken water lines or collapsed sewers.  This summer, we had a customer call us with a special request.  Antonia Chastain, a sculptor commissioned by the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, created a statue of a Cape buffalo for the new Encounter Africa exhibit.  She asked if we could help transport it to the zoo.  Joe headed to Penrose, Colorado, carefully wrapped straps around the 900 lb. buffalo, carefully loaded him onto a trailer and off they went.  Very slowly.  A crane off-loaded our guy at the zoo and into his new home.  I don’t think “transporting animal sculptures” is listed as a regular excavating service of ours, but it sure was fun.  Look for the Cape buffalo just outside the new lion exhibit the next time you visit the zoo.  Our gorgeous weather makes fall the perfect season to see what’s new.  As always, the zoo has done an incredible job of showcasing exotic animals in a natural setting.

For more on the exhibit from the sculptor’s point of view, visit this link:


A Little Bit About Water Lines


Is plastic pipe good to use?  What about copper, which used to be the standard?  I get asked this a lot from customers who want to know what’s going in the ground.

Due to the ever-increasing EPA water quality requirements at our sanitation plants, most municipalities have been requiring the use of plastic, or HDPE, water lines for several years now.  (Probably makes my grandfather roll over in his grave since he was one of the first plumbers to use soft copper!)  However, the plastic will last much longer.

In most of the rural, outlying areas we use an iron-pipe size HDPE with a 200 psi rating referred to as DR7 (black) pipe.  In the City of Colorado Springs, we can use either copper or upsize one size on CTS HDPE with a 200 psi rating known as DR9 (blue).  It is typically installed with no couplings or fittings, other than at the start and finish at the line.  We use one solid piece, with compression fittings at each end, and a tracer wire for future locating purposes.  Both of these plastic pipes are suitable for directional boring into houses, businesses, under roads, driveways.