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  • MainDrain
    started a topic Liability waiver?

    Liability waiver?

    Does anyone use a liability waiver or "Hold Harmless" waiver?

    I always make it clear to homeowners that my cam could get stuck and if so there would be a cost associated in getting it out/repairing the pipe. In some cases where I have a feeling this may be a strong possibility I have them sign a waiver acknowledging this. It's not a big deal as long as the homeowner knows the risks going in and agrees to my terms. I'm doing the inspection because there is already an issue anyway.

    To clarify, what has happened to me a couple times already is that my cam will drop into a rotted out channel of cast iron pipe which will then get pinched/wedged and can't be retrieved.

    BUT, what if you're doing an inspection on a home for a potential buyer and the seller of the property is unable to be reached the day of the inspection (they lived out of state, probate situation).

    I'll explain a recent job:
    Went to a 80-90 year old house which already had a cast iron stack replaced and at least 2 spots where the floor and been broke out for pipe replacement, so my eyebrows are raised already thinking there is a STRONG possibility of more rotted cast iron that I could encounter in the course of my inspection.

    So I drew up my waiver with warnings of the potential risk and had the buyer sign it. The waiver just stated the risk and that there may be a cost associated in retrieving my equipment if the worst case scenario were to happen. They were reluctant to sign but eventually did & I really don't know how much protection this would have legally given me and thank god everything went smoothly...this time.

    So how should this situation be handled? Explaining this situation and having them sign the waiver nearly costs you the job but you also can't afford to leave $5k worth of equipment on the job either. I'm only getting $200 for this inspection so I don't wanna be responsible for the cost of retrieving the cam/pipe repair either.

  • Pro Service
    replied
    Originally posted by MainDrain View Post
    Had another interesting one today.

    I cam a line (for a realtor again) starting from basement clean out. Five foot downstream from the main clean out (which is outside the basement wall) I see what appears to be a fitting. I make a mental note and push on with my inspection. Everything looks good and on my way out I decide I'll take a closer look at the issue 5ft out from my starting point. Cam gets hung up a bit but I am able to jostle it out of the issue, Upon closer inspection what I had THOUGHT was the back of a fitting (45) is actually a backwater(Check) valve.

    These were common in this area in the 50's & 60's when the city sewer system would get overwhelmed and back up into homes. USUALLY they are installed right before the sewer line leaves the home and they have (clean out) plug on top of them so they can be serviced. I often just remove the brass flap assembly because they become stuck or dislodged over time. I have even got my snake caught on a couple of these and had to open them to dislodge my snake.

    Now if my camera would have gotten stuck on this check valve it would have been necessary to dig down 8ft deep in the front yard to access it, cut it out and remove my camera. Who would be responsible for this? Remember I was hired by the potential buyer. Her real estate agent met me at the job and the seller was supposed to be there but had left at the last minute for some reason. I had a waiver printed out and with me but it did not get signed by the owner of the property before I started and I decided to continue anyway. I consider myself EXTREMELY lucky that this did not take a turn for the worse! Just another example why a waiver should always be signed before work begins.
    In our section of laws as plumbers, there's a paragraph that states the home owner is responsible to tell you the existing conditions. In this case it was the BWV and he should of told you there was one. He also has to tell you where it is. If it went to court this paragraph would be in your favor. He can't pretend to be ignorant.

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  • AverageHomeowner
    replied
    Originally posted by MainDrain View Post
    ...Now if my camera would have gotten stuck on this check valve it would have been necessary to dig down 8ft deep in the front yard to access it, cut it out and remove my camera. Who would be responsible for this? ... I had a waiver printed out and with me ...
    I'm not a lawyer, but my understanding (as a customer) is that when I sign a waiver it generally means that I am not holding you financially responsible for incidental damage. So your responsiblity is waived by me. However, it does not mean that I am on the hook to pay for your equipment to be recovered. That would be an assumption of liability on my part, which has different terms than a common waiver.

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  • MainDrain
    replied
    I can agree with that in the case of a camera inspection. I should have taken more time to look it over before proceeding but what if I had been there to snake it? No way I wold have known what I was hooked on. I would have assumed I left the pipe at the cast/clay transition. Maybe could have gotten it free with the use of a cam but who knows.

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  • VA plumber
    replied
    Originally posted by MainDrain View Post
    Had another interesting one today.

    I cam a line (for a realtor again) starting from basement clean out. Five foot downstream from the main clean out (which is outside the basement wall) I see what appears to be a fitting. I make a mental note and push on with my inspection. Everything looks good and on my way out I decide I'll take a closer look at the issue 5ft out from my starting point. Cam gets hung up a bit but I am able to jostle it out of the issue, Upon closer inspection what I had THOUGHT was the back of a fitting (45) is actually a backwater(Check) valve.

    These were common in this area in the 50's & 60's when the city sewer system would get overwhelmed and back up into homes. USUALLY they are installed right before the sewer line leaves the home and they have (clean out) plug on top of them so they can be serviced. I often just remove the brass flap assembly because they become stuck or dislodged over time. I have even got my snake caught on a couple of these and had to open them to dislodge my snake.

    Now if my camera would have gotten stuck on this check valve it would have been necessary to dig down 8ft deep in the front yard to access it, cut it out and remove my camera. Who would be responsible for this? Remember I was hired by the potential buyer. Her real estate agent met me at the job and the seller was supposed to be there but had left at the last minute for some reason. I had a waiver printed out and with me but it did not get signed by the owner of the property before I started and I decided to continue anyway. I consider myself EXTREMELY lucky that this did not take a turn for the worse! Just another example why a waiver should always be signed before work begins.
    In this situation I'd say you would be responsible. As the expert you should know what a check valve looks like. If you choose to continue after seeing the flapper then it's on you. Also, you should know how to pull out the camera in those situations. There are many alternatives to just pushing and pulling on the camera hoping to get it free.
    As the home seller I would refuse to pay any portion for you to pull the equipment out. I'd say my line was working well before you arrived and it should be working when you leave. Unless you have an agreement with them to repair any issues or potential issues you find during the inspection.

    Leave a comment:


  • MainDrain
    replied
    Had another interesting one today.

    I cam a line (for a realtor again) starting from basement clean out. Five foot downstream from the main clean out (which is outside the basement wall) I see what appears to be a fitting. I make a mental note and push on with my inspection. Everything looks good and on my way out I decide I'll take a closer look at the issue 5ft out from my starting point. Cam gets hung up a bit but I am able to jostle it out of the issue, Upon closer inspection what I had THOUGHT was the back of a fitting (45) is actually a backwater(Check) valve.

    These were common in this area in the 50's & 60's when the city sewer system would get overwhelmed and back up into homes. USUALLY they are installed right before the sewer line leaves the home and they have (clean out) plug on top of them so they can be serviced. I often just remove the brass flap assembly because they become stuck or dislodged over time. I have even got my snake caught on a couple of these and had to open them to dislodge my snake.

    Now if my camera would have gotten stuck on this check valve it would have been necessary to dig down 8ft deep in the front yard to access it, cut it out and remove my camera. Who would be responsible for this? Remember I was hired by the potential buyer. Her real estate agent met me at the job and the seller was supposed to be there but had left at the last minute for some reason. I had a waiver printed out and with me but it did not get signed by the owner of the property before I started and I decided to continue anyway. I consider myself EXTREMELY lucky that this did not take a turn for the worse! Just another example why a waiver should always be signed before work begins.
    Last edited by MainDrain; 06-28-2019, 10:54 AM.

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  • VA plumber
    replied
    I always have the customer sign an invoice before I start working. There is a waiver written into the invoice in case I run into an issue like you described. So yes, I do have a waiver on every single job.

    I read those responses about the doctor, roofer, etcetera messing up and that's nothing like what you asked. Of course I'll take responsibility if I screw up. If I break a pipe because I used too big a cable, if my cable gets stuck in a root infested line because I used a branch line cable instead of a main, if I drop primer on carpet, etc. Those would be negligent acts.

    However, if I'm doing everything right and the issue arises because of preexisting conditions with the pipe why in the world would I be responsible for installing a new line?
    Take the roofer argument for example. Say he got on the roof to replace a few loose shingles. He takes a few steps and then steps through the roof at a rotted section that wasn't obvious to the naked eye. Does he owe the homeowner a new roof?

    Say you take your car to get brake pads and during the job the mechanic finds your calipers are leaking and one is seized. Does that mechanic owe you new calipers? Or let's say he jacks your car up, at a jack point, and one of your suspension parts cracks because it's old and corroded. Should he be responsible for replacing your suspension at his own expense?

    There is a big difference between negligent damage and incidental damage. The customer should never be responsible for damage caused by negligence.

    If my equipment breaks during a job then there is no way I would charge the customer for that. They shouldn't be responsible for that. Unless they were messing with it like one customer I had who was running my snake while I went out for some fittings.

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  • Pro Service
    replied
    Originally posted by JFDI View Post
    I'd be too scared to work in the States or Canada, seems like 1/2 the customers are just out to get what they can for nix, or screw you over.
    If you want to read all I have to deal with send me a PM for a link. You won't believe it. I deal with crazies every single day.

    Leave a comment:


  • JFDI
    replied
    I'd be too scared to work in the States or Canada, seems like 1/2 the customers are just out to get what they can for nix, or screw you over.

    Leave a comment:


  • Pro Service
    replied
    @MainDrain you should quote me instead so I can put a like to your comments.

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  • MainDrain
    commented on 's reply
    Good read. Thanks.

    Particularly this post:
    https://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/me...335#post736335

    In that post Bob D agrees that informing customer of a potential problem and they will be responsible for dig up costs if equipment gets stuck is fair
    Pretty funny, that is exactly what THIS post is about...kind of a DB internet troll move just trying to stir up trouble with his post above i guess.
    Last edited by MainDrain; 06-11-2019, 03:04 PM.

  • Pro Service
    replied
    @MainDrain Here read this post, and then read the entire thing. It was the same debate.

    https://www.ridgidforum.com/forum/me...121#post736121

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  • MainDrain
    commented on 's reply
    Had one where my cable got stuck and I told the guy it would be $2500 to dig up outside and install new pipe from house to sidewalk. He wasn't happy so he called another company who kinked one of my sectional eel cables by doubling it over and broke a second cable that was sticking out of the clean out. Long story short he paid them $3k and all they did was install an outside clean out at the house.

    The problem...someone had previously installed an outside clean out (which the new homeowner knew nothing about) in the clay sewer by punching a hole in the clay tiles and resting the vertical riser on the now broken horizontal lateral line and then back filling. So, that rigged clean out had finally slipped and fallen into the lateral which is what my snake was caught on...and this was my fault (Bob)??

    The other company told him it wasn't my fault and called me to retrieve (what was left of) my cable.

    I ended up charging him a drain cleaning charge and $100 for my cables. He refused to pay my cam/locate fee. He was crying broke and said he was gonna dig it up himself so I located it and found that it actually crossed and left the basement on the opposite wall than what we had thought. Would have been pretty funny if he dug it up on the wrong side of the house...LOL.

  • MainDrain
    replied
    Looks like I've opened a can of worms here.

    I'm sure I can come up with a few witty examples as well:

    When the ER doctor can't save a gunshot victim does he pay the life insurance policy or take care of the mans family for the rest of their lives?

    If you hit a pot hole and blow out your tires is the city gonna replace your tires or pay for your suspension because they refuse to repave the roads annually?

    If you stick your hand in the snowblower or lawnmower while the blades are moving is it the manufacturer responsibility if you come up a few digits short?

    Why should the drain service have to pay for a pipe that began rotting out the day it was installed? Often they take years of abuse such as grease or how often have you come across a line that has no pitch or back pitched that led to premature failure? Those things are the drain company's fault?

    You think that after 75 years of cast iron gradually decaying that the drain service should pay for someones drains to be re piped? And I suppose I should remodel the basement too because the asbestos tiles that can't be replaced are my fault too?

    If I made a couple of $10k+ claims like that I wouldn't be able to find insurance...and yes I am insured.

    I know of multiple companies that make the homeowner sign a disclaimer before they snake any drain. I don't do this but if I see signs in an old house that multiple repairs have already been done this is when I bring it to the attention of the homeowner and may have them sign a waiver acknowledging there is potential for a problem. I stand behind that and think its smart business. The only reason I asked the question in my original post was because the owner was not available and I didn't want to bail on the customer who set the job up a week in advance. As I said in this case I don't know if the waiver would have even made a difference since I wasn't dealing with the owner but I wanted it in writing that the customer who hired me was notified of a potential issue.

    I've been at this a long time and nine times out of ten the homeowner acknowledges the problem and pays for the repair. Often times their homeowners insurance will pay for the majority of the repair which is the way it should be. Usually its not the first time there has been an issue and they've been forewarned that eventually pipe will need to be replaced.

    I thank you for your opinion and I've stated mine so lets leave it at that and not turn this into a two man debate thread.
    Last edited by MainDrain; 06-10-2019, 04:00 PM.

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  • Pro Service
    replied
    MainDrain commented
    Today, 11:56 AM
    Thanks for commenting but could you clarify. The way you wrote the sentence I'm not sure exactly who "you" is.
    Are you saying if you don't use a waiver that you (the drain service company) would have to pay everything OR are you saying "you" the customer pay everything?

    So do you always use a waiver or not? It wasn't clear.
    In my opinion mentally sane would mean they understand there is a problem with their piping and they would assume responsibility and oay to have it repaired but we all know that is not always the case.

    Majority of my jobs the owner is present but when I do these inspections for realtors or potential buyers this is the grey area I am asking about.
    Ok this is for my area. If you don't have a waiver the customer could sue and the judge may make you the drain cleaner pay for everything. Then they can also file a complaint and you will have a HUGE fine because you didn't tell them of the possible outcome and fees associated to retrieve your snake or camera. That's why I have them sign before I do any work. Just a verbal warning good luck proving you said so.

    I don't have them sign a waiver for unclogging kitchen lines. I do make them sign a waiver for 3" toilet lines and 4". I don't drain clean from the house to the street. I'm not buying them a new pipe because they have roots and I got stuck.


    Mentally sane, I get so many calls from cheap and or crazy people it's a horror show. Some turn into monsters when they get the bill even though you told them the hourly rate 2-3 times and you told them the expected time it should take and you told them the aprox amount.

    Example : one guy this morning thought I was going to unclog his main line, inspect all the plumbing, drain clean sinks and more because he asked a FREE ESTIMATE!! He thought a free estimate came with free work!! Then last week a guy went completely berserk because I said I wasn't going to locate a mystery leak at his house for free. I blocked his number and this weekend he left a voice mail looking for a plumber. He probably called everyone in the city.

    Last story : a woman called Sunday morning at 9:30 to redo the exterior french drain and foundation membrane. She thought it was less than 200$ WTF??? A french drain job is minimum 10 000$.
    Last edited by Pro Service; 06-10-2019, 03:51 PM.

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