About sewer lines! Yay!
Hubby's MUCH calmer, thanks for all of your help. (He was never actually hyperventilating though he was actually quite upset -- a bunch of different things came together in a bad way.)
He gave me more details about the broken pipe and I have a much clearer picture. However there are still confusing details.
Left is towards the house, right is towards the street.
I thought the jam was on the street side of the damaged pipe, but no. I said "So how could the guy tell the pipe was broken if he couldn't get the camera through the root obstruction?" E.G. said that he could just kinda barely wiggle it through but couldn't go further. It was really unclear, and he (E.G.) couldn't tell HOW broken it was or even where it was broken, exactly. The RR guy was telling him what to look for, but evidently it was one of those sonogram type things -- "uh, yeah, it's a head, OK." (In our experience it was really hard to see what the doctor seemed to find patently obvious.)
ANYWAY, we have very little information about the actual break -- how severe it is, where it is on the pipe (bottom? top?), etc. We agree that we're going to try to get that information one way or another, starting with trying to get the RR guys to come back and fulfill the warranty. We paid for stuff that didn't happen. There must be a way to get the obstruction out of the way, especially since it's mostly in the (currently) undamaged pipe.
Questions E.G. wanted me to ask, I don't know if anyone here knows the answers, I'll also Google-research them later:
1.) How often do clay pipes break? Is that a common thing?
2.) If they do break, what kind of time scale are we looking at before there are problems? (Obviously there is a lot of variability there.)
3.) Does the root-cutting blade break pipes often?