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Wife's coworker (a 65 year old single woman) is having issues with a toilet not flushing properly. Basically a clog from what I'm being told. She calls a service and they run a camera and tell her that there is a low spot causing the clog. Solution is to "blow it out" (whatever the hell that means) and that this is a normal thing that needs done every five years or so. Cost is $3000.
Now I'm NOT a plumber and don't play one on TV but I do know my opinion on the matter.
What I'd like is some input from our members who do have real plumbing expertise.
Thanks in advance.
Posts: 1376 | Location: Indiana or Florida depending on season  | Registered: March 18, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Not an expert. If the line is sagging, it will need to be dug up and raised to the proper pitch in order to be fixed right. Other wise, it will be a reoccurring problem and the $3000 each time could have paid for the repair in the first place.
Posts: 3311 | Location: PA | Registered: November 15, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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$3,000 for actual repairs 'might' be reasonable. Would have to know more about what repairs where being proposed. But $3k to snake or blow out the line is a plumber recognizing a 65 year old woman is a prime target for scoring a nice payday. Call another plumber for a second opinion.

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Posts: 30206 | Location: Orlando, FL | Registered: April 30, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
SF Jake
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She needs to hire another plumber....clearly the first one is trying to rip her off...find a reputable plumber

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Posts: 2758 | Location: southern connecticut | Registered: March 20, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Well the first three responses pretty well nailed my initial response to the wife. I've never heard of "blowing out a line" other than the old canisters they used to sell for sinks.
Unfortunately if it does need repairs it might get expensive as I'm sure it's on a slab. But I'm having a hard time seeing how it could have just gone bad and slump while under a slab.
Posts: 1376 | Location: Indiana or Florida depending on season  | Registered: March 18, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have never had anything like that done, let alone every five years. Based on what you are saying sounds like a big ripoff attempt. Another plumber or a handy man that is worth his weight in gold is in order. They are out there. Good on you for helping her out.

"Practice like you want to play in the game"
Posts: 14881 | Registered: September 21, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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If his estimate and repair plan was so far off, maybe his diagnosis is as well.

Supported and under a slab, I doubt a belly could form.
Posts: 2491 | Registered: May 28, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Just for the
hell of it
Picture of comet24
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Get another plumber to look at it before giving this guy a dime.

Something sounds fishy. If there is a low spot that is not the long term solution.


Because in the end, you won’t remember the time you spent working in the office or mowing your lawn. Climb that goddamn mountain. Jack Kerouac
Posts: 15760 | Registered: March 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Second opinion. I had a plumber tell me that my main line needed replacement with Schedule 40 and that he could not guarantee my lawn would recover as it would require heavy equipment. I got another opinion, the line was cleared with some minimal debris found and twenty years later there have been no recurrences.
Posts: 8640 | Location: Stuck at home | Registered: January 02, 2015Reply With QuoteReport This Post
It's not easy being me
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All I can offer is that we've been in our current home for almost 21 years. Oh, and we have 4 full bathrooms that have been in almost constant use for almost 21 years (bathtub in one, showers in the other three). Have I mentioned yet that we have six children? While we are down to the last being a senior in high school, all six were home for Thanksgiving (along with the oldest's husband and their 10 month old "niblet" Smile).

While I've had to snake a shower or sink occasionally, we've never had to "blow out a line". There are some really good plumbers in the world (I know of one in Chattanooga, and another in Nashville). But there are also a few not so good plumbers... A second opinion would be wise.

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Posts: 2569 | Location: Middle TN | Registered: March 22, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
I have not yet begun
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If there is a “sag” (unlikely) my moneys on it being under the yard, not the slab.
That would MUCH cheaper than slab work.

This plumber has quite the money making scam going on for $3k every few years. I’ll bet the frequency goes up every time.

After the game, the King and the pawn go into the same box.
Posts: 3550 | Location: North of AZ hell | Registered: October 26, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Nosce te ipsum
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The plumber is probably talking about a jet truck. A customer of mine hires one once in a while. Twice a year for general clearing, or wait for the problem to develop once every three or four years. Or longer even. A big truck comes out and they clear out the lines with super high-pressure water. It takes several hours and I think the bill is around $900.

If the coworker is in Las Vegas, the soil is probably compacted and is not settling. If there is a belly there it’s been there for a while. It sounds like a plumber could drop a cable from a midsize machine with a 3 inch cutter head from the roof vent all the way out to the street. Have a hose up there as well, and run lots of water to the line while he’s running the cable slowly. In and out with lots of running water. Right through the obstruction. Break it all up and flush it out.

If it’s properly broken apart and flushed out, she probably would not have issues for at least as long as she has not had issues in the past.

My life ambition is to be as cool as Alan Bibey
Posts: 7906 | Location: Mid-Atlantic Region | Registered: March 24, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Are we in a city system or septic?

A handyman can ‘snake out’ the line 1st. At the $3k level, yeah, a 2nd opinion is in order.

My single sister had problems 5 years back, instead of $1000’s to the septic company, the brother & I fixed it by hand. Her’s was a plugged outlet to the drainfield due to failed baffle. We cut into the tank & did a battlefield repair.
Posts: 4254 | Location: WI | Registered: February 29, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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More info needed, first is this a recurring issue.
Is she on public sewer or septic.
Does she have more than one toilet.
What floor/story is bathroom on.

With the above answered , I can help with your question more.
Posts: 1654 | Location: Northern Virginia/Buggs Island, Boydton Va. | Registered: July 13, 2011Reply With QuoteReport This Post
fugitive from reality
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Another question is how far into the pipe is the low section? If she's on septic it's all hers, but in a sewer system it might be the town's problem.

'I'm pretty fly for a white guy'.

Posts: 6666 | Location: Newyorkistan | Registered: March 28, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I agree: second and even third opinion and price to repair is needed.... and there is nothing wrong with telling the next plumber you are paying them for a second opinion and price.
Posts: 1828 | Location: Greenville, SC | Registered: January 30, 2017Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I had this exact issue in my previous home...

The cleaning of the sag is a temporary fix. Our lasted only about 4-6 weeks before we had issues again. It did not cost 3k...more like a few hundred...but the guy had easy access from front vent.

Our sag was under our driveway...cost was 8k.

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Posts: 6055 | Location: South East, Pa | Registered: July 04, 2002Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Picture of rexles
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If there is a low spot in the pipe it will continue to be a problem in the future.
The camera should be able to locate exactly where the spot is.
An elderly person living alone does not use much water by themselves. The waste from the toilet will lay in the low spot and dam up and start to form a sludge. (think cow pie) and eventually plug the line.
High pressure jetting(blowing it out) is the proper way to take care of the clog. It may take several years to build up again.
Running a cable(SNAKE) through a sludge clog many times will not do the trick. The sludge caves back in around the cable and will not drain. Water jet or maybe a blow bag will force it out.
The money quoted is very high. That job would be under $500 in my area with the camera work.

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Posts: 966 | Location: Holland, OH | Registered: May 07, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I had the entire stretch of line from my house to the sewer dug up and replaced for slightly less than 2k. My run was just through the yard so nothing extra, but 3k sounds like a hell of a lot unless there was a lot more work quoted than what was relayed.

"The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people."
"Odd," said Arthur, "I thought you said it was a democracy."
"I did," said Ford, "it is."
"So," said Arthur, hoping he wasn't sounding ridiculously obtuse, "why don't the people get rid of the lizards?"
"It honestly doesn't occur to them. They've all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they've voted in more or less approximates the government they want."
"You mean they actually vote for the lizards."
"Oh yes," said Ford with a shrug, "of course."
"But," said Arthur, going for the big one again, "why?"
"Because if they didn't vote for a lizard, then the wrong lizard might get in."
Posts: 2785 | Location: Two blocks from the Center of the Universe | Registered: December 30, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Nosce te ipsum
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It takes several hours and I think the bill is around $900.
Addendum: This customer has a corner parking garage with 1st floor shops. Their 10" sewer is collecting wast from several Chinese restaurants and a bakery. Some are treating grease in a haphazard manner.

So the jet truck was a very big deal.

A different commercial customer steam-jetted their drains in '00 and they are starting to become an issue now.

Depending on the blockage, running enough water with a cutter head may clear her back to GTG. A huge wallowing of grease is unlikely, but that would take some serious jetting.

My life ambition is to be as cool as Alan Bibey
Posts: 7906 | Location: Mid-Atlantic Region | Registered: March 24, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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