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htwingnut

04:45PM | 03/28/07
Member Since: 03/27/07
4 lifetime posts
Bvplumbing
I have an old house, built in 1947. It is pretty solid construction, brick and plaster. However, every since we moved in here ten years ago, we routinely have to snake our main drain. I even bought a 50 foot snake which usually would clear things up for 6-9 months at a time. Typically I would get straggling roots, and at times some stray paper towel, or some other odd thing (like a dog toy once, wtf?)

That being said, I would really like to avoid laying new pipe as I cannot afford it. Are there any other options I can consider?

Secondly, what is the best way to find a reliable and trustworthy plumber? Those 1-800-Plumber type places I find are five times more expensive than they should be, and I seem to know more than they do (which isn't saying much). I don't mind spending the money for a service from someone I can trust, but I've been hosed a few times already from various skilled trade people.

I've heard of getting a camera down my pipes, which I think would be a good idea just to see what is going on, but the 1-800-plumber place wanted $500 for that service, and a local guy I've used from time to time doesn't do it.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Sylvan

05:38AM | 03/29/07
Member Since: 01/24/06
1507 lifetime posts
Me_office1
I totally AGREE with you about 99.99999% of the incompetent folks I met working for franchises as you can NOT train drain cleaner in 6 weeks or teach anyone "plumbing" in 12 weeks.

I advertise strictly in my local small phone book that covers about 4 miles and the majority of my work is from word of mouth.

One has to use common sense when hiring a plumbing contractor for example If I belonged to a franchise called Benedict Arnold plumbing services I would have the following over head

1- KICK BACK to the home office which could take a hefty 40% of my action

2- Insurance like liability and compensation.

3- Office staff and equipment

4- phones etc.

5- another bad aspect about belonging to a "franchise" there is lots and lots of room for someone to get kick backs (GRAFT,PAYOLA) from the distributors of office forms and equipment, insurance reps, as the franchise dictates whom you have to buy from and human nature being what it is (look at the politicians) someone can line their pockets costing the franchise victim (member) even more money that they have to pass on to the public foolish enough to hire them.

The big chunk is the kick back to belong to the franchise as it kind of gets top heavy supporting folks at the top who like to live in a certain life style even if they have no clue to the mechanicals involved in the profession.

The top executives have the rift raft actually doing the work with minimum of training in most cases.

For this reason I look at plumbing like I would medical practices.

Would I like to go to a big uncaring HMO that accepts what the insurance company thinks is fair Or pay more for my health insurance and I can pick who I want to go to in or out of the so called network knowing I can hire a much higher caliper of professional.

I would suggest you call a licensed plumber /drain cleaner and if you have to you maybe able to rent a camera if the plumber doesn't own one.

I also think Snake could be a little short as once I encounter roots I use a 3/4" snake with a root cutter head and snake out 100'

DO NOT LET some snake oil sales representative try to sell you chemicals like "bad pipe be gone"

Try to find a plumbing contractor who is proud enough and honest enough to use his/or her own name, using ones name shows integrity as many folks feel their good name means everything.

I have accounts for over 22 years years where they have a root condition and once a year I snake the lines and they are good to go for another year.

A heck of a lot cheaper then relining or replacing and relining is not legal in some areas.

FYI 1947 IS NOT OLD It was an amazing year for the plumbing profession as that was the year I came on the scene

If you have any more questions feel free to E mail me or contact me on here.

htwingnut

08:31AM | 03/29/07
Member Since: 03/27/07
4 lifetime posts
Thanks for the response.

I found a plumber that offered "free camera inspection". They came out and snaked the line with a huge industrial sized snake and took it to about 75 feet where it hit the sewer main. Then they took the camera, and showed me about 15-18 feet out from the house are roots and other sludge that built up because of the roots. That cost me $100, which was reasonable.

I asked him what it would take to fix it right, and he quoted me $1800 to replace pipe from my house to street sidewalk (where the problem area was), rod out the rest of the pipe to the sewer main, and place a cleanout outside off the new pipe. Reasonable? I don't know, but will ask for another estimate.

Sylvan

09:52AM | 03/29/07
Member Since: 01/24/06
1507 lifetime posts
Me_office1
For what it is worth $1,800 is a gift and I would jump on it BUT first find out what materials they are going to use (plastic or cast iron)

You have to love the free video inspection as I charge $500 an Hr for video inspections.

I figure the color camera cost me in excess of $9,000 plus the locater ($1,500 ) and wear and tear etc to me the video camera is like a doctor saying NO CHARGE for the MRI or colonoscopy.

Some folks love to give away their talents and do not know the true worth of using these expensive devices.

I would grab this guys services before he has a chance to crunch the numbers and realize he is giving this job away.

FYI I am paying my helper $25 per hr and one of my mechanics $65 per hr in the envelope so I cannot see how a contractor can pay someone a living wage and pay for a large snake MY average cost for the machine is $1,800

Then there is over head and cable replacement benifits plus the van to get the tools to the job site and someone can do allthis for $100 PLUS give away the video inspection

I WISH I COULD HIRE HIM MYSELF and 1099 him and charge at least double his rate.

This is a no brainer HIRE HIM and thank him and keep his number for any future work

htwingnut

10:29AM | 03/29/07
Member Since: 03/27/07
4 lifetime posts
His camera was grayscale and looked well used, but was very clear. I don't think that $1800 is that cheap to dig a trench, replace 25 feet of pipe, and add a cleanout, all in an eight hour day. But then again, what do I know, otherwise I'd do it myself! :)

Sylvan

02:15PM | 03/29/07
Member Since: 01/24/06
1507 lifetime posts
Me_office1
Thankfully the law firms I work for have no problem paying me $2,000+ a 7 hr day materials NOT included.

Even if the black and white camera was well used or not the camera, the truck, the skill, the insurance, the overhead and profit should be taken into consideration BUT then again there are some who feel they are the only ones who should make a semi decent living and some folks like living hand to mouth living from pay check to pay check.

Not to long ago I did a job that took me a little less then 8 hours and I billed the account $10,000 (materials cost $2,250) and I worked alone.

Not only did I get paid a week later but they gave me a lot more work.

I often wondered what someone is willing to pay a highly skilled person who is able to diagnose the problem and correct it and save the client thousands of dollars?

I guess some folks feel Bill Gates makes to much money, even though he did it without seeking hand outs or having someone come after the fact say that didn't look so difficult.

Like a gold miner or oil driller it doesn't matter who digs the hole it has to do where to dig it that counts.

FYI 25 Ft of 4" cast iron with a clean out and trenching and shoring as per OSHA 1910 and the liability insurance involved for under ground work the $1,800 is a gift

Believe me I charged more then that to clear stoppages let alone digging.

One day you should go into an office building in a big city that may have 300+ offices and go to each lawyer and ask their hourly rate.

Same licenses, same location, yet the prices are widely spread as some folks do know what they are worth and others are content driving a Yogo and some enjoy the handling of a Mercedes 500 series.

The same with plumbers some like to work at or just below their cost and make up for it by working 60 hour weeks to make ends meet because they have an employee mentality over looking the actual cost of business.

You lucked out that you found someone who was able to locate the problem and give away his services (camera) and then give you a rock bottom price.

Want to bet if you ask this guy how many hours he works a week and then divide it by his actual NET income he is not even making minimum wage.

Like many of the franchise guys they have this need to feel protected against a cruel world and have to have someone tell them how to dress what equipment to buy what color truck and model and what billing paper to buy and from whom.

They get to feel like they are self employed but they are still working for someone reaching into their pocket paying the franchise fee so they can feel they are a team player.

At least the franchise guy knows he has to pay a hefty percentage in kick backs so his prices do reflect it as the boss man tells them what to charge

Again you lucked out big time, be thankful and tell all your friends you found a really cheap contractor who knows how to do the right job.

At these prices he should should not be in business that long if he does have insurance and has any type of office expenses and pays employees a living wage
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