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.
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.
$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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She needs to hire another plumber....clearly the first one is trying to rip her off...find a reputable plumber
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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.
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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.
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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.
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hell of it
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.
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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.
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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" ).
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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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.
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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.
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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.
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.
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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.
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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.
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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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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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.
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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.
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