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  • Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

    I am planning on starting a drain cleaning service and need some advice. I've been doing plumbing work for about 5 years and believe I know enough to get started. I know I have a lot to learn, but I've learned alot from the drain cleaning guys that I've worked with in on different jobs in the past. But some of the stories I hear are kind of scary

    I have helped our main sewer guy carry his Spartan 300 machine up and down stairs so I know how much of a PITA it can be LOL! But, besides him (he's very busy with his own work), it has been really hard to find a good drain cleaning guy that will be where he says he'll be and can communicate well.

    I plan on getting the Spartan 300 for main drains and then the Spartan 100 with 3 different drums (with different sized cable) to use on 1 1/4 - 3" lines.

    In the future, once funds are available, I would like to get a camera and do recorded tapings of main drains. Any thoughts on what type of setup to get?

    Lastly, for those that dig up the yard and install a new cleanout, what process do you use??

    Thanks in advance to all those that can help out
    YourHomeContractor.com - The Trusted Online Community For Homeowners and Contractors.

    Plumbing Reviews

  • #2
    Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

    Welcome to the forum. Not sure of the cost But you could get a ridgid k- 60 and handle most of the jobs you may have. The down side is it a sectional cable machine. The good side is it's not going to beat your back up as much. You use 7/8" cable on drain 2" to 4" and 5/8" for 1-1/2 to 2" and hand held drills for smaller drain lines. As for digging up yard for clean outs. Most are done by hand digging most are only 3 feet deep. Good luck

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

      There's enough past threads on drain cleaning equipment to read for days. I saw you're 24, I hope you know what you're doing and I wish you the best of luck in your business venture. I've been doing HVAC for around 10 yrs and plumbing for 9 and I'm not sure if I could have my own business. Best of luck.

      Ben
      Buy cheap, buy twice.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

        hoa, as ben has mentioned, there is tons of good info here on drain cleaning equipment. just start a searc or view some of the other parts of the plumbing forum.

        the spartan 300 is a 5/8'' machine. not sure if it up to the big root jobs.

        you might want to consider a k-7500 3/4'' drum machine or k-1500 1.25'' sectional machine. also the k-60 is my favorite all around machine for roof tops to lots of stairs.

        do some reading and come back with more questions. better grab a snack as there is plenty already posted in this forum.

        rick.
        phoebe it is

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

          Originally posted by freddy View Post
          Welcome to the forum. Not sure of the cost But you could get a ridgid k- 60 and handle most of the jobs you may have. The down side is it a sectional cable machine. The good side is it's not going to beat your back up as much. You use 7/8" cable on drain 2" to 4" and 5/8" for 1-1/2 to 2" and hand held drills for smaller drain lines. As for digging up yard for clean outs. Most are done by hand digging most are only 3 feet deep. Good luck
          Here in Minnesota, we have basements that are 5+ feet below the ground. I would assume some sort of machine would need to be used for these situations. Of course, there are split level houses where the the 3 foot deep rule would apply.

          I agree that having the sectional cable machine would save on my back. I hit the gym on a daily basis and I would guess maybe dragging the Spartan 300 up and down the stairs would drain me quite a bit. I'll definitely look into the sectional machines. I guess the only reason sectionals can be bad is one would have to lay them out on the floor and would stain something if they are dirty, but that is what lots of tarps or cloth-like tarps would be used for

          Thanks again for the advice

          Originally posted by gear junkie View Post
          There's enough past threads on drain cleaning equipment to read for days. I saw you're 24, I hope you know what you're doing and I wish you the best of luck in your business venture. I've been doing HVAC for around 10 yrs and plumbing for 9 and I'm not sure if I could have my own business. Best of luck.

          Ben
          Thanks!

          Running a plumbing or HVAC business would be kind of hard to do. That is why I'd just do drains mostly and I would have less overhead, less chance of getting a messy van, I wouldn't have to deal with too many parts and keeping inventory, etc.

          Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
          hoa, as ben has mentioned, there is tons of good info here on drain cleaning equipment. just start a searc or view some of the other parts of the plumbing forum.

          the spartan 300 is a 5/8'' machine. not sure if it up to the big root jobs.

          you might want to consider a k-7500 3/4'' drum machine or k-1500 1.25'' sectional machine. also the k-60 is my favorite all around machine for roof tops to lots of stairs.

          do some reading and come back with more questions. better grab a snack as there is plenty already posted in this forum.

          rick.
          I guess I didn't realize that the 300 was only a 5/8" machine. I must've overlooked it. I'm assuming that extra 1/8" will help with the tough roots, correct?

          I was curious as to what you prefer? Do you like the sectional machine or the k7500 machine?

          I'll grab some cheap frozen pizzas and read all day tomorrow

          Thanks again for all the help and advice, guys. I really do appreciate. Getting valuable information from the experienced guys is truly priceless!
          YourHomeContractor.com - The Trusted Online Community For Homeowners and Contractors.

          Plumbing Reviews

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

            Originally posted by HouseOfAtlas View Post


            I guess I didn't realize that the 300 was only a 5/8" machine. I must've overlooked it. I'm assuming that extra 1/8" will help with the tough roots, correct?

            I was curious as to what you prefer? Do you like the sectional machine or the k7500 machine?

            I'll grab some cheap frozen pizzas and read all day tomorrow

            Thanks again for all the help and advice, guys. I really do appreciate. Getting valuable information from the experienced guys is truly priceless!
            had to repost, thanks joey

            the 5/8'' cable and 300 spartan is rated for up to 6'' pipe. the 1065 is an animal. if you have good luck with the 5/8'' great. otherwise get a 7500 drum machine and it will run both 5/8'' and 3/4''. also the spartan ends are very close to the ridgid ends and a little filing and you're set.

            what distance do you typically run? what do you bring back? i use both sectional and drum. each has it's advantage. sectional are new to me for the last few years. i wish i knew about them 30 years ago. i would still be a young man. i didn't know mark back then. you're lucky ben, you got it while you're still young.

            since you're in basements most of the time, you will probably like the sectional machines better. unless you like to carry 250# up and down the stairs.

            better get enough meals for the whole weekend as there is lots to catch up on. summer school has started

            rick.
            Last edited by PLUMBER RICK; 07-05-2007, 11:52 PM.
            phoebe it is

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

              HOA, first of congratulations on you r new business and good luck. there is NOTHING more fulfilling than beingyour own boss. it means hard work, long hours,and no one to blame when you mess up.calso the bos canbe a real PITA sometimes

              as the owner/operator of a Drain Cleaning service here i made some decisions before i got started.

              i decided to stay with residential and light commercial.

              i decided thyat i would do everything i could to get to everyone as timely as possible. there are too many "trades" here that are lazy, incompitent, and just shiftless.

              sometimes i have to prioritize. a slow or backed sink is less of an emergency than a toilet spewing sewage in someones house.

              if i can't do a job, i'll be honest and say so. i will refer to someone with the proper tools if i don't have them and will say so. this has gotten me repeat business on smaller problems.


              treat everyone with respect.

              i only use sectional machines. currently a K-50 and K-75. the K-60 (thank you Rick) is on the list.

              i ONLY do drain cleaning. plumbing issue sare refered to plumbers. they in return refer me for cleaning problems.

              i've been in business for 14 months now. i have a good reputation, people know me (i get folks in stores that "shout" me because they remember me doing a good job.) and i am making a good living. i charge more than any plumber here and people gladly pay it. BTW, i an T&M

              the point of all of this is if you do decent work, be respectful, be honest, you stand a good chance of survival. this is the 2nd time i've had my own business and i'd never work for another a**hole than myself

              there are some very knowledgable folks here. listen and read and you can learn a lot

              again, GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!

              steve
              In the never ending struggle to keep the water flowing.... The Poo Poo Cowboy rides again!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

                Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK View Post
                had to repost, thanks joey

                the 5/8'' cable and 300 spartan is rated for up to 6'' pipe. the 1065 is an animal. if you have good luck with the 5/8'' great. otherwise get a 7500 drum machine and it will run both 5/8'' and 3/4''. also the spartan ends are very close to the ridgid ends and a little filing and you're set.

                what distance do you typically run? what do you bring back? i use both sectional and drum. each has it's advantage. sectional are new to me for the last few years. i wish i knew about them 30 years ago. i would still be a young man. i didn't know mark back then. you're lucky ben, you got it while you're still young.

                since you're in basements most of the time, you will probably like the sectional machines better. unless you like to carry 250# up and down the stairs.

                better get enough meals for the whole weekend as there is lots to catch up on. summer school has started

                rick.
                Summer school? LOL!

                The guy that is our main drain guy has used the Spartan 300 since he first started and never used anything else for mains. If the distance is more than 150 feet, he says to call someone else. Of course, like myself, people like using what has worked for THEM. I'm more fond of running copper in a house than pex tubing. Why? I don't know, just because it looks cleaner and I like solder over crimps.

                But, the sectionals seem to look like a great option. A lot of houses I've been in for plumbing work have very narrow staircases and there is no way a Spartan 300 would fit down there, let alone the k7500. If I'm not mistaken, the k7500 is about 3" wider. Also, a lot of the steps going downstairs look like they'd fall right through if I brought the big drum machine down it LOL!

                I believe you can't overbuild something. So having a machine like the k7500 would probably be something that I would like to have where the access to the downstairs is wide enough to let me bring the machine down

                Thanks again, Rick, for the help. I'm sure you'll help me more in the future and I'll be in debt with you forever

                Originally posted by stxrus View Post
                HOA, first of congratulations on you r new business and good luck. there is NOTHING more fulfilling than beingyour own boss. it means hard work, long hours,and no one to blame when you mess up.calso the bos canbe a real PITA sometimes

                as the owner/operator of a Drain Cleaning service here i made some decisions before i got started.

                i decided to stay with residential and light commercial.

                i decided thyat i would do everything i could to get to everyone as timely as possible. there are too many "trades" here that are lazy, incompitent, and just shiftless.

                sometimes i have to prioritize. a slow or backed sink is less of an emergency than a toilet spewing sewage in someones house.

                if i can't do a job, i'll be honest and say so. i will refer to someone with the proper tools if i don't have them and will say so. this has gotten me repeat business on smaller problems.


                treat everyone with respect.

                i only use sectional machines. currently a K-50 and K-75. the K-60 (thank you Rick) is on the list.

                i ONLY do drain cleaning. plumbing issue sare refered to plumbers. they in return refer me for cleaning problems.

                i've been in business for 14 months now. i have a good reputation, people know me (i get folks in stores that "shout" me because they remember me doing a good job.) and i am making a good living. i charge more than any plumber here and people gladly pay it. BTW, i an T&M

                the point of all of this is if you do decent work, be respectful, be honest, you stand a good chance of survival. this is the 2nd time i've had my own business and i'd never work for another a**hole than myself

                there are some very knowledgable folks here. listen and read and you can learn a lot

                again, GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!

                steve
                Steve,

                I totally agree with your business ethics. I like to be upfront with the customer, honest and communicate. If I'm running late, I'll call the customers and let them know. Also, I'm not the type of guy that says, "I can do anything". I know my limits.

                Also, our plumbing company is rated really well on Angie's List. For those not familiar with it, its a website where people can rate contractors and people can look for referrals and see what companies are good. Not to boast, but a big part of that is due to the work myself and another guy have done and our communication with the customer.

                As for how much to charge, the rates I was thinking of starting at are lower than almost all of the drain companies we have dealt with in the past. Of course, I'm a rookie so I guess that goes hand in hand.

                Thanks again for the help guys!!
                YourHomeContractor.com - The Trusted Online Community For Homeowners and Contractors.

                Plumbing Reviews

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

                  Originally posted by HouseOfAtlas View Post



                  As for how much to charge, the rates I was thinking of starting at are lower than almost all of the drain companies we have dealt with in the past. Of course, I'm a rookie so I guess that goes hand in hand.

                  Thanks again for the help guys!!
                  We would call you a ***** ***** ** *****. If your work is not worth what others charge then go get a job I`m the highest price sewer guy in out town and I`m worth it. Below standard price means most likely below standard work to most people. If you do good work and work on your people skills price wont matter. If you only want to make a living, just get a job. There is a reason people charge what they charge, Ins, Truck repairs, tooling, add`s, you name it because you will be paying it. Think about it before you go out of your way to cut others prices just to get the job. Not a good way to do business.
                  Last edited by All Clear Sewer; 07-06-2007, 01:28 PM.
                  http://www.all-clear-sewer.com/

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

                    Originally posted by All Clear Sewer View Post
                    We would call you a ***** ***** ** *****. If your work is not worth what others charge then go get a job I`m the highest price sewer guy in out town and I`m worth it. Below slandered price means most likely below standard work to most people. If you do good work and work on your people skills price wont matter. If you only want to make a living, just get a job. There is a reason people charge what they charge, Ins, Truck repairs, tooling, add`s, you name it because you will be paying it. Think about it before you go out of your way to cut others prices just to get the job. Not a good way to do business.
                    I just get a bunch of stars at the beginning of your paragraph.

                    As for the price thing, give me a break on that LOL! I'm only 24

                    Right now, I'm getting $16/hour per billable hour and never asked for a raise. Like I said, I didn't think I would be in plumbing this long. I was going to be a home inspector when I was 18, but my mind was always changing.

                    My home inspector teacher told us that we shouldn't charge too low because customers will think they aren't getting as much information as someone who charges more and one shouldn't charge an astronomical amount because they won't get as much business. So, in other words, I agree with you.

                    I do want to do my best and treat every job as it was my own. I'm not looking to make a quick dollar. I'll spend the extra time talking to the customer and letting them know their problem and making them understand it. I want to treat them with respect and not just see their problem as dollar signs.

                    As for cutting others prices, it's not like I will be cutting them way below. I would be in the "market range" as others in my area. I don't believe my inexperience as a drain cleaner is worth as much as those that have been doing it for years. Unless someone has some words of wisdom that would change my mind. I'm open to all constructive criticism
                    YourHomeContractor.com - The Trusted Online Community For Homeowners and Contractors.

                    Plumbing Reviews

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

                      If you think your work is not worth as much as others then your not ready to go out on your own.
                      Please don't think I`m picking on you because "I`m not".

                      "If" you don't believe you have the experience then people wont get a fair job at any price. We learn something every day and yes even cleaning sewers you can learn allot. The day you know it all, is the day to stop! There`s a fine line in there.

                      You need to change your way of thinking or you will never make it on your own.
                      http://www.all-clear-sewer.com/

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

                        tossing my $.20 before taxes in here. be careful on your pricing. if you are the cheapest in town it may come back to bite you in the future.

                        i'm sorry but drain cleaning is not Rocket Surgery, but it is a job most would rather not do. keep in mind your equipment, daily costs, wear and tear, advertising, insurance, etc. if you can't cover these then you are doomed. sad but true.

                        you can always buffer your billed rate from your hourly rate. if you think a job took 1/2 houer longer than necessary because of your "inexperience" then charge 1/2 hour less. sometimes i cut a customer a break (maybe a 1/4 hour or not charge to reset a toilet) because they were nice or maybe not have a lot of money or because i was a few minutes later than my projrcted arrival or sometimes just for good will. i get fresh magoes and johnny cake from one client because i charged her what she truely could afford. i also have 3 referals from her.

                        i suggest you market yourself slightly above the median of your market. if you need to adjust your rates after a quarter or year then do so. let your existing clients know, when they call, there has been an adjustment in rates. they will probably be understanding if you have a good working relation with them.

                        again good luck with it.

                        steve
                        In the never ending struggle to keep the water flowing.... The Poo Poo Cowboy rides again!!!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

                          Originally posted by All Clear Sewer View Post
                          If you think your work is not worth as much as others then your not ready to go out on your own.
                          Please don't think I`m picking on you because "I`m not".

                          "If" you don't believe you have the experience then people wont get a fair job at any price. We learn something every day and yes even cleaning sewers you can learn allot. The day you know it all, is the day to stop! There`s a fine line in there.

                          You need to change your way of thinking or you will never make it on your own.
                          I know you're not picking on me. I believe, from the experiences that I've been through, I can hang with the rest of the plumbers in my field

                          We have done jobs other plumbers didn't want to do. A lot of plumbers in my area don't like busting up the double bay cement tubs in the basements and haul out the cement chunks, but we have never past up a job like that.
                          Also, we've been called a few times to replace galvanized drain pipes (the sanitary T, etc.) that the kitchen drains into because other plumbers don't want to bust open the wall, cram a sawzall under the sink and cut out the section, etc. Of course, we'll do it LOL! The worse one is when we have to bust out an old cast iron boiler that looks like this:

                          http://www.flickr.com/photos/vitodens/21117837/

                          It's not that I don't think my work is up to par, I guess it's just my way of thinking. Of course, you guys are right as usual and I need to change that!!

                          And Steve, I agree with the way you bill. We've given a customer a break the first time around and then they called us back for more work and wonder why the bill was more the second time.

                          Also, If I'm an hour and 15 minutes into the job and finish, I might/might not charge for that quarter hour. It all depends.

                          Thanks for the encouragement, guys
                          Last edited by HouseOfAtlas; 07-06-2007, 02:16 PM.
                          YourHomeContractor.com - The Trusted Online Community For Homeowners and Contractors.

                          Plumbing Reviews

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                          • #14
                            Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

                            You might want to charge close to what the guy you have worked for charged, and after you get a average time that it takes to do main lines, sink stoppage, and so on. You can come up to a set price, or dare I say it Flat RATE PRICE Then you should be covering your cost, and making money. Most people want to know the cost for your service first. As far as the double tubs. I haul them out in one piece, and re-sell them if the are usable, some people still like that old stuff. freddy

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                            • #15
                              Re: Starting Drain Cleaning business - Need advice

                              now you are thinking better dont cut yourself short on price just to get work.
                              Just do the best you can, and work will come to you and the price wont matter then
                              http://www.all-clear-sewer.com/

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