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Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

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  • Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

    Hi,

    I'll try to be brief as this is a long story. Would appreciate any input and advice.

    - Renovated Bathroom in basement last year.
    - Had sewer line blockage in January.
    - Called municipal works.
    - Discovered that the new clean out was NOT properly installed and was at an angle that would not permit the public works guys to put their "fish" inside to unblock the blockage.
    - Public works claims that the cleanout must always be straight. I understand that this is true and have no argument with that. This will be fixed in the spring at great expense due to tiles and cement that must be broken (also heated floor system will be destroyed). Not happy.
    - The Public works guys were very professional. They even put their camera into the pipe to see how far down the line the problem was. They were shocked when they saw that it was blocked under the street (town's responsibility).
    - They admitted that the issue was with "their" pipe and that they would fix it BUT only in the spring and to call a plumber in the interim to fix the blockage. The plumber had better equipment according to them.
    - I said why not break the street and fix it now ?
    - They said that they only do that in emergency situations.
    - I said that that I considered this an emergency.
    - They said it was not and that they were following procedure and guidelines outlined by the city (I live in the Montreal area).
    - Called plumber.
    - After much effort, the plumber was able to unblock the pipe after going through multiple entries. At the last entry, he said if he couldn't do it that the city would have to come back and break the street as it would then be considered an emergency.
    Bottom line. 5-1/2 hours labor, plus video for a nice bill of $ 956.00

    - I have no recourse with the company that did the work as they went bankrupt.
    - Filled complaint and claim with city. They refused the claim as they said that the issue would have been resolved if clean out was properly installed to start out with. They have a point. However my point is, why not just break the street and do the repairs immediately ? Also, according to the plumber, the section of pipe that the city had replaced a few years back was shifted somehow during backfill I suppose. Finally, if the plumber had not been successful, the city would have had to dig up the road and do the repairs.

    I am considering rolling the dice and going to small claims court.

    What do you guys think ?

  • #2
    Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

    I would go to court.

    Is the city relying on YOUR cleanout to access and repair THEIR problem?
    If their line ishifted, it is THEIR problem, regardless if your cleanout meets code.

    Hope you need not change your cleanout.
    Is there another alternative to destroying your good work?

    Too bad the idiots did not understand thathe cleanout is improper.
    As professuionals they should have known.
    (I would not have known.) What radius bend can their "fish" negotiate?
    Last edited by Robert Gift; 03-07-2011, 03:00 PM.
    I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
    It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
    "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

      Hi Robert,

      Not sure what radius bend their fish can navigate., but there are two issues there.

      A. The "bend"
      B. Because it is a heated ceramic floor, it did not make logical sense to have access through one of the tiles, so "the professional" said it would be ok for it to go under my vanity. One need to remove drawers to access the clean out. Not a lot of space. I was concerned but was reassured that it would be ok.

      Playing the devil's advocate, I do understand the city's position with regards to the sewer line being straight. The plumber confirmed this as well. My point is that if the city should have immeditely fixed "their" problem and avoided any possible charges resulting from a plumber.

      Sadly, there is no other option. The work must be destoyed and redone. I figure a couple of thousand once all is said and done.

      Yes, I beleive I will pursue this in small claims court, but I beleive that it could go either way. By the way, I would have been satisfied if the city had offered to pay for at least half of my bill as I feel that there is a certain amount of fault in my end. The city was correct in saying the immediate problem would have been fixed in 20 minutes if they had straight access.

      It's a grey area.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

        My not put a yard C/O in, save the tile work. Pull the toilet, just as good as a clean out. More work though.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

          Good idea hiding the cleanout access inside the vanity.
          The slight bother of removing drawers and/or doors would be worth the benefit of concealing it.

          How could they have fixed the blockage had they had straight access?
          Were they going to send a device down the line to realign the pipes?

          Can you leave the cleanout as is and correct it only if needed?
          What are the chances that if you correct it now, it will ever be used?
          I say, "Leave bad enough alone.".
          Last edited by Robert Gift; 03-07-2011, 04:24 PM.
          I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
          It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
          "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

            Dane,

            What is a "yard C/O" ?

            As for the toilet. The plumber did pull the toilet after he too was unsucessful in going through the cleanout (again - angle issue). Regretably, he also was not succesful going through the toilet opening. I suppose it was another angle issue. He ended up going through an access on the other side of the wall behind that was part of my stack. Again, not ideal and he was succcesful in the end, but told me that it might not work (another angle issue there but a bit more room.

            Also, and I neglected to mention this, but the ID of the access was 1" diameter smaller than the norm. Even the plumber said the guy who did it was an idiot amature.

            Robert,

            Yes, good idea hiding cleanout access in the vanity, but in the end there just wasn't enough wiggle room, plus you still had to contend with the bend/angle issue.

            Yes, I have entertained and continue to entertain the thought of doing nothing. However, God forbid...what happens the next time this happens? I don't want to spend another grand for something the next plumber might not be succesful in fixing. In addition, I can't sell the house like this. Although I suppose I could.... but the next owners would come back on me for latent defects once they have a blockage - and they would be in the right. Pleading ignorance doesn't wash in that case.

            To add insult to injury, and TOTALLY coincidental, just last week my insurance company sent me a letter saying that they would not insurance for any damage resulting from a sewer backup if a back water valve was not present. Guess what... I have no back water valves.

            The salt just continues to be put on my open wounds !

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

              Yard Clean/Out.

              I don't understand the angle issue.
              On my stack I installed a long sweep "Y" (looks more like an r)
              which exits outside so need to bring a snake inside.

              Could something like that work?

              What are the chances of such a blockage happening again? Very small?
              Occasionally when our clothes washer empties, I open all sinks filled with water, bathtubs and flush all toilets to flush the line.

              Is a backflow preventer installed outside? Does it have a vent or riser to the yard surface which could be used as a cleanout?
              Last edited by Robert Gift; 03-07-2011, 07:43 PM.
              I'd take an educated guess - but I'm unqualified.
              It ain't just soot, it's paydirt.
              "I swear, wherever Gift goes, argument follows." -Youtube comment

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

                I need to ask, what is a "fish" in sewer/drain cleaning?
                Time flies like an arrow.

                Fruit flies like a banana.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

                  i agree with dane. pull the toilet. almost i do around here i have to do that. i don't understand the wrong angle stuff. do you mean the clean out fitting was installed backwards? what are the fish? by the way if i only snaked ones that were done properly, i would not do very many. maybe you need a better drain cleaner. ask your friends for recommendations. i would inquire about an outside co before i ripped out my radiant. just me. breid............

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

                    if the angle is wrong for a snake it's probably wrong for waste as well.

                    The yard Cleanout is just a riser coming straight up off of your sewer outside in the yard. while they're out there digging to put that in, they can add a backwater valve.
                    No, it's not rocket science, it's plumbing and unlike rocket science it requires a license.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

                      Robert,

                      Thanks for telling me what a yard clean out is. Never seen one before. Maybe they are rare here in Canada and the Northern States due to cold.

                      As for my stack. Yes, mine is like an"r" as well. The issue is that at about 5 feet it hits a 45 to 60 degree angle. This is where the plumber was finally sucessful, but not without a lot of effort. He kept on getting stuck. Lots of pulling and tugging. So yes, it did work. I have been in my house for 12 years. This was the 3rd time it blocked. Mind you the first two were due to roots that had broken into the original pipe that finally had to be replaced 5-6 years ago. To me, this last blockage was due to a combination of the faulty installation of the "town's" pipe that was done 3-4 years ago along with our family using our garborator excessively and not doing an occasional "flush" with a buildup of grease and stuff in the town's pipe. By the way, from the video that was taken it kind of looks like the town's portion of pipe dipped then raised when it encountered the final pipe into the sewer itself. So our thought is that it was a buildup of gunk that finally could no longer go through properly. It was not completly blocked, but properly 90-95 %. It was risky when pulling the chain. We have not used the garborator since as I am paranoid that the same thing will happen before I get this all fixed.

                      I do like your system of the occasional "royal flush". That ought to give it a thourough cleaning for sure and lessen the chances of another mishap. That's great advice (THANKS).

                      Geno - What I call a "fish" is probably just a Quebec local term for what you call a snake (which makes more sense). So it's the same thing. I should have said snake.

                      Breid - The toilet was pulled, but the plumber was unable to navigate the snake properly. Most likely because of the angle he encountered.... and yes, I will now be inquiring about an outside C/O.

                      Mojourneyman - Not sure if the city would install a BWV on my behalf, but yeah... I will ask for sure. Nothing to loose and a good idea.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

                        I had never seen the yard cleanout either when I was in Alberta, but here they are required. Pretty handy at times.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

                          Yard C/Os all over Toronto. In fact new installs will have 2 C/O risers, one going in the direction to the street and another going in the direction to the house. In any event, if the sewer is blocked on the City of Toronto property, even if C/O do not exist, it's the city's problem. Doesn't matter winter/summer....they DIG and fix it at their expense. In winter, the top 1-2 feet are frozen, below that is fine....this is no problem to dig into with a backhoe. They would much prefer to wait until the spring if they can, but with a blocked sewer, or broken water line....that's an emergency and they DIG....same day!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

                            Clearly there is a problem with the pipe.

                            Sounds like it is on both ends your and the cities.

                            How many times do you see someone work that hard trying to clean a drain just to run up a bill? Drain cleaning is entirely to hard of work to waste time just to charge extra.

                            It does not sound to me like you possess enough knowledge to understand what is going on, and if you consider going to court, you better get some more expert opinion.

                            I would say that if it has backed up 3 times already, and roots are a known cause, your case loses some potency.

                            By the way, since the posts have been so long, I might have missed, who it is exactly you would be taking to court?
                            If I can't fix it, I will help you find a good plumber.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Municiple Public Works Responsibilities

                              couple of issues. a back water valve is only suppose to protect the fixtures that are below the curb of the uphill manhole. so basically it's for basements unless you live on a very steep street. the backwater valve would then have to be installed just for the basement.

                              as fas as a stoppage in your lateral/ line going to the street. out here, the property owner is responsible for all repairs and stoppages until it connects at the city main/ saddle.

                              it might not be common for you to have an outside c/o, but it makes it simple and a lot cleaner to snake from an outside c/o. a good location would be just outside the house foundation. ours are typically 2' outside the house where the cast meets the clay.

                              rick.
                              phoebe it is

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