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  • Snake cable stuck in sewer

    I hired a plumber to clear my 4" main sewer line ($145). After the sewer started to flow his snake became stuck. He dug down about 9' to extract the snake and repair the damaged 4" sewer line. He then continued to snake out the rest of the sewer and hit another damaged spot in the pipe causing his snake cable to kink in the 6" lateral. After four weeks his cable is still stuck in the sewer. Apparently it is stuck by the kink in the cable at the junction of the 4" & 6" lateral. The 4" evidently protrudes into the 6" and the kink is wedged into the gap. The snake blade is free, resting in the pipe

    I paid him $1500 cash for the two days it took to free the first cable, repair the damage at that point and some time trying to free the second cable. If the second cable was not stuck in the pipe I could reline it for about $6200. Since the cable is there I need to dig up the street at a minimum additional cost of $7800.

    I understand a plumber has at least some responsibility to leave a drain pipe in no worse condition than when he found it and remove his equipment. What is fair in this situation where his equipment in my pipe is going to more than double my cost of repair? Was $1500 justified for the two days when his first snake got stuck?

    Thank you for your input
    Everett

  • #2
    Re: Snake cable stuck in sewer

    Originally posted by Everett Leisure View Post
    I hired a plumber to clear my 4" main sewer line ($145). After the sewer started to flow his snake became stuck. He dug down about 9' to extract the snake and repair the damaged 4" sewer line. He then continued to snake out the rest of the sewer and hit another damaged spot in the pipe causing his snake cable to kink in the 6" lateral. After four weeks his cable is still stuck in the sewer. Apparently it is stuck by the kink in the cable at the junction of the 4" & 6" lateral. The 4" evidently protrudes into the 6" and the kink is wedged into the gap. The snake blade is free, resting in the pipe

    I paid him $1500 cash for the two days it took to free the first cable, repair the damage at that point and some time trying to free the second cable. If the second cable was not stuck in the pipe I could reline it for about $6200. Since the cable is there I need to dig up the street at a minimum additional cost of $7800.

    I understand a plumber has at least some responsibility to leave a drain pipe in no worse condition than when he found it and remove his equipment. What is fair in this situation where his equipment in my pipe is going to more than double my cost of repair? Was $1500 justified for the two days when his first snake got stuck?

    Thank you for your input
    Everett

    $1500.00 to dig 9' and repair your sewer, he gave you a good deal, probably he is being fair for becomming stuck in your sewer.

    Did he run a camera after he made the repair or while he was making the repair?

    I sadly have become stuck in a couple sewers, it is a bad situation for the plumber, as well as the home owner because it usually pushes the home owner into a repair before they are ready.

    when the first repair was made, proper action would have been to run a camera ( at the customers expense) to locate any further problems that a cable would have become stuck in.

    You said he kinked his cable and his kinked cable has become stuck, this is hard to believe, I have never kinked a cable and become stuck, (I have kinked cables and pulled them back) I have become stuck in the 6 x 4 transition, because I get a large amount of roots and pull back throught the 4", or the problem was so bad, (which the customer knew about for many years and failed to repair) that the blade would not spin and become wedged and tangles in roots. Is the sewer offset? do you have a video of the stuck cable?

    A plumber cannot be reasponsible for damage to your sewer or drains, you called him out there because you had a problem. How many years have you been stopping up? Is this the first time? Do you know if he was clearing it with an appropriate size cable and machine? Is he a reputable, licensed plumber? or just a handyman?

    Getting stuck in a customers sewer or breaking a drain when snaking it is horrible for both parties involved, but as I have exlained, you had the problem when you called the plumber out, if he did everything professionally, he is not at fault. One day you would have had to fix it, sadly, you waited and this has complicated the situation. A snake is only a temporary fix.
    sigpic

    Robert

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Snake cable stuck in sewer

      One other thing, if the cable is stuck in the 6 x 4, and the connection is on your property line, before the sidewalk, you can dig that up and remove the cable and install a liner from that hole, we used to do it all the time, dig the
      6 x 4, and line the 4" towards the house, and line 6" towards the street, to the city saddle.

      6 x 4 transitions are usually on the private property side, at the sidewalk, or it's under the sidewalk.

      I would need more information to give you a viable solution, as far as location of the 6 x 4 and the location of the stuck cable.
      sigpic

      Robert

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Snake cable stuck in sewer

        See, I was thinking the 6"x4" transition was at the saddle to the main. This would explain why he is kinked. I like to keep my snakes out of the street mains.

        Rob are you saying that 6" is typically brought onto the property and then reduced to 4"?

        You Cali guys have funny plumbing

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Snake cable stuck in sewer

          Originally posted by plumberscrack View Post
          See, I was thinking the 6"x4" transition was at the saddle to the main. This would explain why he is kinked. I like to keep my snakes out of the street mains.

          Rob are you saying that 6" is typically brought onto the property and then reduced to 4"?

          You Cali guys have funny plumbing
          That's what they do here too.
          6" right to 10' from the house, which usually falls on the property.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Snake cable stuck in sewer

            6" in the street, under the sidewalk or easement, and then 4" is brought onto the property to the house drain.

            Some properties down in the beach area have 4" lateralls, but for the mostpart they are 6"
            sigpic

            Robert

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Snake cable stuck in sewer

              I can understand how you feel Everett Leisure, I have gotten cables stuck twice and it was a terrible situation for the owner and myself. Hopefully you hired a reputable plumber and from the price he gave you, it sounds like he is fair.

              If you only get one thing out of this thread let it be this.....Get it done right, and be done with it.
              Anyone can tear a man down, few can build one up.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Snake cable stuck in sewer

                Out here you own the transition that is made on your property at the property line.The problem out here is the plumber will shove whatever length of pipe through the caulder coupling into the larger pipe,not worrying too much about how far.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Snake cable stuck in sewer

                  Thank you all for your input. Some questions were asked that I will try to answer.

                  >Did he run a camera after he made the repair or while he was making the repair?
                  The first time he got stuck he ran a camera. I'm not exactly sure what good it did siince he had to dig to the pipe to free his snake. That was entirely in the 4" though. I don't think he ran a camera before he began snaking again and got into the 6". He did mention running without a blade and with a "grease blade" (I think he called it) to the sewer. I'm not convinced he really did that, but he said he did. I think if he had used the camera, as was suggested, that would have allowed him to avoid the problem that caused the cable to kink. There was/is heavy adobe dirt under a break in the 6". His snake probably rode that dirt up to the break and grabbed something. I wouldn't think it would be easy to kink the kind of cable he used, but certainly easier in a 6" pipe than a 4" pipe. He claimed it was a new cable, but I'm not convinced of that either. After cutting the machine free from the cable he pulled the cable further out of the machine and there appeared to be bends in the cable there too.

                  >Is the sewer offset? do you have a video of the stuck cable?
                  The sewer is not offset in the area in question. A day after the cable got stuck a camera showed the snake blade resting peacefully in the pipe. The other end of the cable seemed to disappear into the side of the pipe, but no hole was visible. A week or so later I got a video going all the way to the sewer and the stuck cable is clearly visible. The blade is covered in toilet paper, but the resolution was better and I can see that the other end of the cable disappears right at the 4" to 6" transition. There is no damage to either pipe visible. There are no roots in the pipe.

                  >How many years have you been stopping up? Is this the first time? Do you know if he was clearing it with an appropriate size cable and machine? Is he a reputable, licensed plumber? or just a handyman?
                  This was the third time in 9 years the pipe has clogged. The last time was Sept 2006, prior 11/2003. The cable stuck in the pipe is 3/4" dual core. He said he was running with the clutch on auto. The blade appeared to me to be appropriate to clean a 4" pipe. It appeared about twice the diameter of the roughly 1.5 - 2" blades I've gotten on rented snakes. He is licensed, bonded and insured according to his ad in the Yellow pages.

                  The 4"- 6" transition was measured to be about 1' into the street asphalt from the curb.

                  Again, thanks for your comments.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Snake cable stuck in sewer

                    Sorry to hear about your troubles. Sometimes jobs go wrong and it is unpleasant for everyone. It sounds like you have three questions; what to do now, have you been overcharged, and is the work that's been done appropriate. I'll weigh in on the latter two first and address what to do now last.

                    In my area $1500 is certainly in the ballpark for the time and effort expended, however you still have a problem with your line. Occaisionally what sounds like a straightforward job within my scope expands to the point I am not comfortable with it or do not have time to do it, so I can understand how that might be the case here. In that situation I like to at least refer the customer to someone who can accomplish what needs to be done.

                    From the information thus far, it sound like appropriate equipment was used, and the getting stuck, at least the first time, was a result at least in part of a pre-existing problem with the line. Getting stuck might have been avoided with some more care, or might not. If the break in the line was a known factor, I would have approached it with exteme caution (if at all) and a fair warning to the homeowner about the possibility of getting stuck and the ramifications of that. In that case, my intent would be to open the line only enough so that the house could be used until it could be repaired. If the break is new information, getting stuck might not have been avoided.

                    The getting stuck a second time sounds more avoidable to me. Why was he continuing to snake? The line was open, the repair was made, a camera could confirm the rest of the line from the repair on clear or not at that time. I suspect it was cameraed and something was inconclusive but not right, so more snaking happened. It's not clear to me from the information so far that there is or is not a problem with the line where the cable is caught now, but I don't see how a 3/4" inner core cable can whip up and wedge just from coming out of a 4" into a 6" without out some other factor involved. Both incidents, without being on site at the time, sound to me like they might possibly have been avoided, but equally might just be unfortunate combinations of circumstance. I would have a hard time pointing a finger. As to the cost of digging and repairing or replacing the line at this point vs. the cost of relining, The line would have to be realtively clear to reline so the whole scenario might have happened anyway had you set out to reline from the start.

                    What to do now... in your last post you say the blade is clearly visible in the line, it sounds like right at the 4-6, in the 6, and the end of the cable disappears off the side of the screen, presumably back up in the annular area where the 4" extends into the 6" (which btw, is odd to me that it wasn't lopped off cleanly).

                    Is the cable broken off at that point? Or is there still good cable attached in the 4" back to where he was working from? If you have an end of cable to work with, it might be possible to remove it. While I am sure your guy has done everything he can, someone else might have more luck. If it is broken off, someone might be able to hook it with another snake and get it loose, though they might just get caught in it and stuck again... but at this point you are digging anyway so it might be worth a shot.

                    Is there a problem with the pipe there other than the cable being stuck in it? If the pipe needs to be repaired there other than the cable being removed, you are digging anyway, so give up and dig, but bear in mind the previous obsevation that you might not need to dig the street; if you can get close enough to get access to the thing that might be enough. Good luck.
                    This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Snake cable stuck in sewer

                      I'm in agreement with everyone here that it's unfortunate and a delicate situation to be in. With that being said, I'm with Ace on getting a second company that has expierience in retrieving broken cables. Maybe it was a bad cable maybe it was a bad sewer or both but the fact remains the cable is still there and needs to be removed.

                      I've had marginal luck retrieving broken cables but have yet to see a 3/4" innercore cable twist over on itself inside a 6" sewer for no reason. Most cables break because they were poorly maintained or an inexpierienced user was on the controls. I don't fault him for running the cable the second time. He was just being thorough but maybe a camera would have been a better tool. I'll bet it can be hooked and brought out without digging up the street. It's worth a try but no promises going in.

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