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  • What would you do?

    I'm posting this here because it started as a draincleaning call. Customer/aquaintance just moved to an older home built in the 50's early 60's perhaps. Wife ran the clothes washer and the master bath started to flood. HO said the concrete floor in the bedroom had been patched before they tiled over it. He figured it must have been a plumbing repair. HO says he's not aware of any cleanout, so I look for one. Nothing visible; real shocker. So, I pull the closet in the master(turns out to be end of the run) and I'm looking at a PVC flange and 3" PVC piping. Ahhh.. This must have been the "repair". So, I send my camera down the line and before it leaves the bedroom, it goes back to CI. PVC was fairly clear, but not long after it goes CI, I'm underwater. Keep pushing and locating pipe. The line goes across the house, catches the guest bath and shoots out the side. The camera comes out of the water so that I do see a cleanout. Trying to locate it outside, it turns out the pipe and cleanout are now covered by a bumpout and an add on AC unit. Basically, cleanout is covered. So, I keep pushing until it's past the unit in the yard. At this point, it's 4" clay pipe. No problem. I cut in a 4" cleanout and start jetting. I haven't gone all that far when in addition to rust and scale, I'm pulling back dirt/sand. Set up the Ridgid shop vac at the cleanout to pull up the dirt and not plug up the sewer. Lots and lots of sand. Nozzle gets stuck about 15' in. Even with jetter off, dirt and sand are coming to the cleanout. I try looking with the camera, but so much water and gunk in the pipe, I can't see at all where there is a hole/crack. There's an opening somewhere, but I can't see good enough. I got the jetter going again and got it unstuck, but stopped jetting as it wasn't going to make things better. Based on what I've seen, if it were my house, I would: put wife in hotel or w/mother, cut open the floor and run a new line. This isn't what HO wants to hear, so if you guys have any advice or good suggestions, I'm open. Money hasn't been discussed yet, but I've busted my hump for a day and a half in the heat with this house, and to me, it doesn't look good. HO want to get it back and running, I want to fix it right..

  • #2
    Re: What would you do?

    Originally posted by richinflorida View Post
    I'm posting this here because it started as a draincleaning call. Customer/aquaintance just moved to an older home built in the 50's early 60's perhaps. Wife ran the clothes washer and the master bath started to flood. HO said the concrete floor in the bedroom had been patched before they tiled over it. He figured it must have been a plumbing repair. HO says he's not aware of any cleanout, so I look for one. Nothing visible; real shocker. So, I pull the closet in the master(turns out to be end of the run) and I'm looking at a PVC flange and 3" PVC piping. Ahhh.. This must have been the "repair". So, I send my camera down the line and before it leaves the bedroom, it goes back to CI. PVC was fairly clear, but not long after it goes CI, I'm underwater. Keep pushing and locating pipe. The line goes across the house, catches the guest bath and shoots out the side. The camera comes out of the water so that I do see a cleanout. Trying to locate it outside, it turns out the pipe and cleanout are now covered by a bumpout and an add on AC unit. Basically, cleanout is covered. So, I keep pushing until it's past the unit in the yard. At this point, it's 4" clay pipe. No problem. I cut in a 4" cleanout and start jetting. I haven't gone all that far when in addition to rust and scale, I'm pulling back dirt/sand. Set up the Ridgid shop vac at the cleanout to pull up the dirt and not plug up the sewer. Lots and lots of sand. Nozzle gets stuck about 15' in. Even with jetter off, dirt and sand are coming to the cleanout. I try looking with the camera, but so much water and gunk in the pipe, I can't see at all where there is a hole/crack. There's an opening somewhere, but I can't see good enough. I got the jetter going again and got it unstuck, but stopped jetting as it wasn't going to make things better. Based on what I've seen, if it were my house, I would: put wife in hotel or w/mother, cut open the floor and run a new line. This isn't what HO wants to hear, so if you guys have any advice or good suggestions, I'm open. Money hasn't been discussed yet, but I've busted my hump for a day and a half in the heat with this house, and to me, it doesn't look good. HO want to get it back and running, I want to fix it right..
    Couple of issues come to mind. #1 Obviously, no disclosure of all this hacked work! Draw up bill for what You've discovered and done. They need to take this to a real-estate Attorney. Get Your Money now or never! Then write up an estimate for a proper repair. Tell home owner to continue hacking this property will come back to haunt him, and cost more in the end ! Good luck,please bill him now. Wish I followed this sermon My self in the past!
    I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: What would you do?

      Wow, Tool! Such a quick 1st response. The best part is, it's exactly what my wife said! She knows little about plumbing, but she knows the HO and said, "Give him a bill for what you've done tomorrow morning!! Then tell him he needs major repair that is beyond the scope of a small service plumber. Get out of it." In all honesty, I'm really not sure where the guy wants me to go at this point. I was talking to him about pitch and had my 1' plumber's level on the newly installed cleanout. It was just breaking the line; halfway to 1/8"= 1/16" pitch on the pipe. At that point, HO says, "Can't trust that; it's not a builder's level!" What? It's a plumber's level and I've used this model for years. The pipe has pitch or it doesn't; we don't need anything fancy with a laser to figure that out! That got me aggravated. Not much to play with and if things are backwards/flat under the house... Time to get the cut saw and shovels if you want to be realistic in my opinion. Truth be told, I don't have the 30+ years experience some do on the forum. Looking for advice, but I don't think this one looks good long term.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: What would you do?

        Originally posted by richinflorida View Post
        Wow, Tool! Such a quick 1st response. The best part is, it's exactly what my wife said! She knows little about plumbing, but she knows the HO and said, "Give him a bill for what you've done tomorrow morning!! Then tell him he needs major repair that is beyond the scope of a small service plumber. Get out of it." In all honesty, I'm really not sure where the guy wants me to go at this point. I was talking to him about pitch and had my 1' plumber's level on the newly installed cleanout. It was just breaking the line; halfway to 1/8"= 1/16" pitch on the pipe. At that point, HO says, "Can't trust that; it's not a builder's level!" What? It's a plumber's level and I've used this model for years. The pipe has pitch or it doesn't; we don't need anything fancy with a laser to figure that out! That got me aggravated. Not much to play with and if things are backwards/flat under the house... Time to get the cut saw and shovels if you want to be realistic in my opinion. Truth be told, I don't have the 30+ years experience some do on the forum. Looking for advice, but I don't think this one looks good long term.
        You're a lucky Man to have that Gal ! I think I married Her Sister."As it starts,so it goes " also
        " I want what I want,But I don't know what I want, and when i get it,I ain't gonna like it ! " I have the same Plumbers,works fine. I also have 2 lasers. If He's so sharp,let Him fix it!
        Get paid, I didn't ,and finally am getting $500 a week from a Guy.
        I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: What would you do?

          Know when a job is more than you want to take on. Sometimes it's the job itself, sometimes it's the customer
          No, it's not rocket science, it's plumbing and unlike rocket science it requires a license.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: What would you do?

            Originally posted by richinflorida View Post
            Money hasn't been discussed yet, but I've busted my hump for a day and a half in the heat with this house, and to me, it doesn't look good. HO want to get it back and running, I want to fix it right..
            most importantly you need to discuss the cost up to date and the future cost they are in for. even if it's just a time and material/ equipment price. therefore there are no surprises.

            now if you proceed, i would jet from the cleanout back upstream to the toilet and use the jetter to suck out the sand and debris. this can be done by attaching a rope or jetting from the flange and pulling it up to the new c/o. then swap the nozzle and put it on the flange side to now pull the sand out towards the c/o. if you attach a rope or wire rope, you can easily do it again by pulling the hose back towards the flange.

            of course how long has this person been living there? was there any disclosures with the seller. unless you can prove the problem with the camera, it's going to be a real legal battle. maybe they can track down the original plumber and ask questions.

            most importantly put it in writing and get the prices to date settled.

            rick.
            phoebe it is

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: What would you do?

              Thinking about this, the previous owner had to have the same back up problems. I'm sure he knew a lot. I would tell the homeowner to talk to some older retired neighbors. They will know Who came, and did what, when. Good luck
              I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: What would you do?

                Thanks for the replies. More info: The guy is a realtor! I just did work in the last house he lived in, but he was a renter. Also an old house w /CI. I jetted the hell out of that house after installing a cleanout. We determined w the camera that the line started holding around 20' into the house which was the kitchen. I'm told the owner of that house wants to sell it and is considering breaking the floor and having me fix it. I'm not sure of "who" he bought this next house from. Told me it was a foreclosure, he got a real "deal" on it. Actually, the lot is worth something, he's right on the water in the oldest part of the city and has a nice view. At that time, the places they built were just little bungalows for vacationing. If $$ were no object, you'd bulldoze what was there and put up a nice, modern house. I know when they put the drains in during that period that they wanted very slight pitch with the reasoning that too much and the "liquids will outrun the solids". If that were true w/cast iron I have been told by many it doesn't hold w/ the new plastic piping. These houses have been there for many years, so it's got me wondering what happened. Has the house and the underground settled or shifted enough to backpitch or flatten the pipe slope? I'm sure whoever lived in the house before had problems. When he moved into the rental unit(1st house) the neighbors all told him there was a problem. Right now, what he really wants is a definitive and accurate diagnosis of what is exactly wrong. Rick, I like your idea but it scares me a little. When I jet these ci lines, I go in a little and pull all the way back "sweeping" chunks of iron/scale, debris and suck it up w the vac. Go in more, pull back the junk. I don't know if or when this line has been jetted. I'm afraid that if I pull from the end of the line back to the cleanout, I'll build up
                so much crap it will form a mound I won't easily pull to or past the cleanout. It makes sense to me that these old lines will hold a good amount of sand in the bottom because ci is a rough surface. However the amount of sand I'm getting makes me suspect a break somewhere. Not sure if I'll see anything more or better, but tomorrow I plan to try and run the camera from the cleanout upstream. The HO is a good business reference; he's thrown me a little work. He can be a nice guy, but he's a know-it-all. He was some kind of building contractor at some point in his life "I used to do this for a living". He could tell I was getting aggravated when he started running his yap about a builders level(laser) and not "trusting" my Sears plumber's level. I'm not quick or hot tempered, but after busting my a$$ in the heat, I was in no mood to hear I didn't know what I was doing. Exactly! So what do you need me for? Fix it yourself! The nozzle I'm using right now is a simple 1/4" 1f 3r hooked to a 4gpm 4kpsi jetter. New jetter is being built, will post pics and specs when done. I'd love to really
                clean the line, but I'm not sure if it will make the sand situation worse. If the jetter did help expose a crack, hole, joint, his problems will only get worse, not better.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: What would you do?

                  Originally posted by richinflorida View Post
                  Thanks for the replies. More info: The guy is a realtor! I just did work in the last house he lived in, but he was a renter. Also an old house w /CI. I jetted the hell out of that house after installing a cleanout. We determined w the camera that the line started holding around 20' into the house which was the kitchen. I'm told the owner of that house wants to sell it and is considering breaking the floor and having me fix it. I'm not sure of "who" he bought this next house from. Told me it was a foreclosure, he got a real "deal" on it. Actually, the lot is worth something, he's right on the water in the oldest part of the city and has a nice view. At that time, the places they built were just little bungalows for vacationing. If $$ were no object, you'd bulldoze what was there and put up a nice, modern house. I know when they put the drains in during that period that they wanted very slight pitch with the reasoning that too much and the "liquids will outrun the solids". If that were true w/cast iron I have been told by many it doesn't hold w/ the new plastic piping. These houses have been there for many years, so it's got me wondering what happened. Has the house and the underground settled or shifted enough to backpitch or flatten the pipe slope? I'm sure whoever lived in the house before had problems. When he moved into the rental unit(1st house) the neighbors all told him there was a problem. Right now, what he really wants is a definitive and accurate diagnosis of what is exactly wrong. Rick, I like your idea but it scares me a little. When I jet these ci lines, I go in a little and pull all the way back "sweeping" chunks of iron/scale, debris and suck it up w the vac. Go in more, pull back the junk. I don't know if or when this line has been jetted. I'm afraid that if I pull from the end of the line back to the cleanout, I'll build up
                  so much crap it will form a mound I won't easily pull to or past the cleanout. It makes sense to me that these old lines will hold a good amount of sand in the bottom because ci is a rough surface. However the amount of sand I'm getting makes me suspect a break somewhere. Not sure if I'll see anything more or better, but tomorrow I plan to try and run the camera from the cleanout upstream. The HO is a good business reference; he's thrown me a little work. He can be a nice guy, but he's a know-it-all. He was some kind of building contractor at some point in his life "I used to do this for a living". He could tell I was getting aggravated when he started running his yap about a builders level(laser) and not "trusting" my Sears plumber's level. I'm not quick or hot tempered, but after busting my a$$ in the heat, I was in no mood to hear I didn't know what I was doing. Exactly! So what do you need me for? Fix it yourself! The nozzle I'm using right now is a simple 1/4" 1f 3r hooked to a 4gpm 4kpsi jetter. New jetter is being built, will post pics and specs when done. I'd love to really
                  clean the line, but I'm not sure if it will make the sand situation worse. If the jetter did help expose a crack, hole, joint, his problems will only get worse, not better.
                  Rich, I hope You get the repair ,for a good price. I think this is an interesting project, and We'll all learn from it. Why not collect for what You've already done,and price each phase as You go? I tell customers " If I want to gamble, Tahoe is beautiful this time of year "
                  I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: What would you do?

                    Thanks, Tool. Like MOJouney said, it's dealing with the customer that makes me uneasy, the thought of digging old pipe or breaking concrete is just work I need to be compensated for. I don't want to "run" from any job. It makes me think of that scene with Jack Nickolson.. "You can't handle the truth!!" When it comes to a serious plumbing repair, you're not aesthetically improving the house, you're buying it back in working condition. How can you enjoy life when you're afraid to flush the toilet or run your clothes washer? After they've paid the bill, there are no new fixtures, no pretty countertops, you've just restored what's already expected to work. Still trying to figure where/why the jetter got hung up. It may have exited the line.. That should be seen by the camera. Now I can't wait to go back.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: What would you do?

                      They always find money for the plasma TV , Never, for the honest plumber to fix the Sewer !
                      I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: What would you do?

                        We all know the cast is rotted and the sugar sand is flowing in
                        Keep the Guy up dated on the cost every day until he says stop
                        He should check on his home owners ins to see if it will cover the cost of the job

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: What would you do?

                          Originally posted by DELCASE View Post
                          We all know the cast is rotted and the sugar sand is flowing in
                          Keep the Guy up dated on the cost every day until he says stop
                          He should check on his home owners ins to see if it will cover the cost of the job
                          Sounds like "You been there "
                          I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: What would you do?

                            Name:  5eea59114522dd1752888fd71d44e29f.jpg
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                            This is some of the sand in the bottom of the shop vac. Obviously, didn't get it all, some went down the sewer. I just keep pulling up the heavy stuff to keep the sewer clear. Not sure if homeowners will cover this. Ridgid vac not smelling to good, but it'll be back in action tomorrow.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: What would you do?

                              Back this morning. HO in good mood and very agreeable. Got the jetter all the way to the end 3-4 times. So, after all this cleaning, did I find the problem? Short answer, no. Got the jetter "stuck" in the same place as yesterday and shut it down.Went in w/camera to see where it was hung up. So much sand, difficult to see bottom of pipe, but it looked like the jetter exited the pipe right after it went in the house. I excavated by hand as much as possible and couldn't feel any water or jetter nozzle. Because of this, and the fact that I can't see a hole w the camera, HO is still convinced there is no crack, hole, or bad joint in the line. He figures the line has just never been cleaned properly or the sand got in when they cut up the far bath and never got cleaned out. So, if the jetter is exiting the pipe, there has to be a substantial opening, and water should be wetting ground around pipe. The first fixture the line hits as it goes past the outside wall is now a shower that at one time was a tub. Easy to tell because there is a 3 handle tub/shower valve with a tub spout way too low for a shower. The drain is where the tub drain was. I strongly suspect the jetter was finding it's way into a 2" tie in to that line. No way it will push through that trap and might be getting wedged in a turn.
                              Even after all this cleaning, the sand just seems to keep appearing. I have a feeling if we were to cut up the first bath, we could check the remainder of the line to the far bath(keep in mind, small house) clean it and get a good idea of how it's running. I suspect the problem is right before the line leaves the house. I'm highly suspicious of that converted tub to shower.
                              It's a hack remodel job. Would you rip out a tub to make it a shower and leave the valve just above the tub with a spout? You guys have no idea what kind of work goes on around here. but from reading the forum, it's everywhere. It killed me to keep putting my new camera into all that sand.. I flipped the camera at the cleanout to check out the rest of the clay sewer to the street. Even though it's also old, it's in beautiful shape with not one root intrusion! HO told me he wants to live there for 2 years and would rather not bust up the floor. If he can limp along for that time he'll sell it OR.. if he makes enough $$ and loves living there, he'll knock down the house or do a major remodel which would include cutting out the old plumbing. He has 3 old hose bibs on the house that have no water to them. He doesn't know why. I do. The house had a crappy repipe and rather than run new hose bibs, they just abandon the original copper from the slab. Long winded, but I hope you guys enjoy the story..

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