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  • What do you do in this situation?

    I'll try and make this short but it probably won't happen:

    I got a call from the boss saying there is a main drain thats backed up. I go there and talk to the guy a bit and he said he has had it snaked out before. He said he puts chemicals down the floor drain to kill the roots in the front yard, but he didn't this year, so he said he wanted the main cleaned out. It was some Roto Rooter chemicals so maybe they told him that he needed it (years ago). There were some small trees in the front yard, but I don't think the roots would reach 8+ feet down.

    Anyways, I see that the floor drain is backed up and think that line could be the only problem.

    The reason I think that is the only problem is because I go to the main drain clean out (the cap is in the ground facing up, not on a vertical stack) and the threads on the clean out are dry. Also, the threads are dry.

    I end up going out 60'. The clean out is right at the foundation wall on the front side of the house and its really close to the street and it felt like I was in the sewer at about 50' or so. I get done, pull the cable back, and no roots. I ran the sink in the other room to wash everything down. Flushed toilets, ran the shower, etc. Everything drains great. No back ups or nothing sounding like its backing up.

    I now go to the floor drain and run a sink that is close to that. Within a minute, the drain backs up. This confirmed that this was the problem the whole time. I clean that drain and clean up and head out.

    So, I told the boss (he actually subcontracts drain cleaning work to me) how much I needed (money) and told him I didn't think it was the main and that it was probably the floor drain, yet I cleaned out the main. He seemed like he didn't want to pay me for the main drain, yet if I didn't do it, he would be bitching at me saying, "I told you it was a main drain!". Or if it happened to back up within a month, he would of asked if I cleaned it out and bitched at me then.

    So what do you do? LOL! Is this one of those situation where I'm stuck between a rock and a hard spot? Or was I stupid for not just cleaning out the floor drain and telling the boss it wasn't a main and just take the bitching?
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  • #2
    Re: What do you do in this situation?

    Im the boss, so i dont know

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    • #3
      Re: What do you do in this situation?

      I always try to rod from where the backup is, that way I can see the clog release.

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      • #4
        Re: What do you do in this situation?

        I think you should get paid for what you improved on the job. You should not get paid for the main unless he is beligerant about not listening to you after you've told him it's not the main and you will charge him for it even if it is not the main since he insists on you working on it.

        J.C.

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        • #5
          Re: What do you do in this situation?

          Originally posted by JCsPlumbing View Post
          I think you should get paid for what you improved on the job. You should not get paid for the main unless he is beligerant about not listening to you after you've told him it's not the main and you will charge him for it even if it is not the main since he insists on you working on it.

          J.C.
          Good call. But, I did hit some spots in the main. Nothing tough at all, but there was some resistance in a couple spots.
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          • #6
            Re: What do you do in this situation?

            The customer said he wanted the main snaked ... ...You snaked it. Did you explain to the customer what the real problem was? If so and he still wanted it snaked you should get paid for your work. When i do work for plumbers if there's a situation like this I always try to let them know whats going on before I do the work so there's no problems getting paid .

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            • #7
              Re: What do you do in this situation?

              Originally posted by NYSEWERMAN View Post
              The customer said he wanted the main snaked ... ...You snaked it. Did you explain to the customer what the real problem was? If so and he still wanted it snaked you should get paid for your work. When i do work for plumbers if there's a situation like this I always try to let them know whats going on before I do the work so there's no problems getting paid .
              Yes. I explained that the main might not be the problem and that the floor drain could be the only problem.
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              • #8
                Re: What do you do in this situation?

                Originally posted by HouseOfAtlas View Post
                I'll try and make this short but it probably won't happen:


                So what do you do? LOL! Is this one of those situation where I'm stuck between a rock and a hard spot? Or was I stupid for not just cleaning out the floor drain and telling the boss it wasn't a main and just take the bitching?
                Boss told you to clean the main drain. You talked with the customer and he said main drain. So you did it, then found the real problem and fixed that as well. You're obviously more adept than the boss and the customer, so you should get paid accordingly. The boss should have admitted his mistake and thanked you for going above and beyond the call of duty. All this of course as he willingly paid you for your time and expertise.

                The boss sounds like a weasel. Find someone else to get your work from and tell him to buzz off if he doesn't want to pay for his(and the customer's) mistakes.
                I'm on "The List" and I love it!!

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                • #9
                  Re: What do you do in this situation?

                  Originally posted by tinmack View Post
                  Boss told you to clean the main drain. You talked with the customer and he said main drain. So you did it, then found the real problem and fixed that as well. You're obviously more adept than the boss and the customer, so you should get paid accordingly. The boss should have admitted his mistake and thanked you for going above and beyond the call of duty. All this of course as he willingly paid you for your time and expertise.

                  The boss sounds like a weasel. Find someone else to get your work from and tell him to buzz off if he doesn't want to pay for his(and the customer's) mistakes.
                  He will pay of course (he's good with that), but it just sounded like he was trying to get me to admit that it was only a floor drain issue and that cleaning out the main was worthless

                  Either way, I've learned a valuable lesson from you guys! Diagnosis the problem and then tell the customer my thoughts on the problem and call the boss if necessary to tell him what I'm going to do.

                  Thanks again!!
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                  • #10
                    Re: What do you do in this situation?

                    Originally posted by HouseOfAtlas View Post
                    Yes. I explained that the main might not be the problem and that the floor drain could be the only problem.
                    Then "IF" he still wanted the main done you charge for it, along with the floor drain charge
                    http://www.all-clear-sewer.com/

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                    • #11
                      Re: What do you do in this situation?

                      When I'm doing the diagnostic, I try to figure what's backed up and what's not. Then I bid for what is. Yesterday, I did one where the washer backed up into the floor drain. I flushed toilets on that end of the house and no water backed up. Ergo - main drain.

                      So, I bid the floor drain. I looked at the situation and determined that the washer and floor drain were doubtless tied together and the 3" main from that end of the house went all the way across the house to the main 4".

                      I had to use the entire 50' of 5/8". I didn't get any grease, which I would have expected if the kitchen were tied into the same 2" CI line. But I did pull back wads of baby wipes. "Oh, my daughter must toss those - she only comes to visit once in a while."

                      Now, that calls into question my original assumption - was the mainline plugged, and if so, why did the toilet not back up while the washer backed up immediately?

                      Makes me think that the wipes got washed back into the smaller line and maybe there was a problem with the main. Or, that none of my guesses were correct. Sometimes, you just don't know.

                      I declined to clean the main, since everything was flowing fine when I pulled out the wipes. Gee, wouldn't that be a great time to have a camera?

                      I was working in a small space loaded with saved books and magazines piled everywhere. The main cleanout was behind and beneath overhead cabinets about four feet behind the washer. (Cabinets over the washer) There was no room to move out the washer and get all the way back to the cleanout without serious moving of all kinds of junk. But I do have the guarantee - if it's still giving problems in a reasonable amount of time I'll go back and do whatever it takes. So I decided to skip the main on that trip.

                      If I had done the main, I would, of course, had to add an extra task onto the job after getting the owner's approval.

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                      • #12
                        Re: What do you do in this situation?

                        No time to read through any of the replys to this thread so it may have been said already:

                        1. You misdiagnosed the problem. (no biggie)
                        2. You shouldn't have waited til AFTER you ran the main to tell the boss.
                        3. If he's is anything like the people I deal with, they know crap about diagnosing drain problems.
                        4 Tell him You'll only charge him for the mainline and not the floor drain. He was expecting a mainline anyway so what's his problem?

                        Diagnosing drains, where to begin, etc. can be tough if you're new to it or only clean drains occasionally.
                        After a couple thousand times, it becomes second nature. It's tricky sometimes though.
                        As far as this one goes, it could have been narrowed down simply by running some water in the shower or tub or giving the the toilet flush. If the water then comes up the floor drain, especially after flushing, you've got a main stoppage.
                        However, typically, when a c/o is dry or not holding water, is a good indicator that the main isn't backed up. That or the stoppage is behind (upstream) of the c/o. Most of the time, in that case, it's just a paper stoppage and if possible, I just run my cable backwards up the line to clear it.
                        Other than that, don't sweat it. Sh*t happens

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                        • #13
                          Re: What do you do in this situation?

                          When diagnosing a problem I make sure I let the customer know what I am doing and why I am doing it.
                          I would never run a dry line "again" if your stack is not holding water then it is not the problem, unless flushing the w/c fills up the stack.
                          Bottom line for me is making sure you always communicate what you are doing with the customer.

                          I have had situation where we cleared a sewer and the third floor w/c backed up and the customer called to say it is a call back. We all know the house should be completely flooded if the sewer is affecting the third floor.

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