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Responsibility for snake head stuck in main sewer

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  • #16
    A little story now, it is hard to work for customers sometimes. One guy called me 2 weeks ago saying he had a new bathroom installed in the basement(2 years prior). A GC and 2 plumbing contractors were involved. New pipes all the way to the street. He just recently started to use the bathroom and the toilet was very slow and gurgled. He wanted a second opinion so I went to inspect, he didn't want me to inspect the 2 hidden under tile BWVs, he didn't want me to camera the line either. How the heck I'm supposed to give a proper assessment!!! Not easy when a customer wants something but hinders what you are supposed to do and tie your hands in your back. I did find there weren't any vents, only this...

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    • JFDI
      JFDI commented
      Editing a comment
      Thats when you fire the customer & you tell them why - professionally. Its your way (the correct way) or the highway.

  • #17
    In most cases (twice), if my equipment failed, the cost of digging, extraction, repairing that section is on me, unless I can show the hose or cable got stuck (or broke) as a result of their drainage fault (i.e. foreign object in the drain, broken drain trapping the hose or cable etc).

    If a mechanic drops a tool into your motor or break his favourite torque wrench tightening up a bolt, do you expect to pay for it?

    If I think there is a risk to a job, I advise the customer of the risk & that they'll be up for the dig up cost if equipment gets trapped - once again rare.
    Last edited by JFDI; 10-23-2018, 01:54 AM.

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    • Bob D.
      Bob D. commented
      Editing a comment
      This sounds fair to me. there is responsibility to be had by both parties.

  • #18
    I kind of see this like I do with main shutoff valves. If I have to shut off the main to do a different service I always let the customer know the risk of it leaking, breaking or getting stuck once disturbed. Should I be responsible for their malfunctioning equipment? I'll give them a discount on the repair or replacement but there's no way I'm eating the cost for the whole thing.
    If there was a way to prove the plumber ran the machine neglectfully then I'd say he should be responsible for only part of the cost. Your line was already broken and I doubt a blade in the line will cause much more of an obstruction than the roots and offset pipe you had before the plumber showed up. Specially if it is a 12" pipe (which I doubt) as you say.
    Another thing you could try is getting a jetter out there to go from the downstream access to cut out the roots if your line gets clogged. My guess is the blade will come flowing out with the root ball.

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    • PLUMBER RICK
      PLUMBER RICK commented
      Editing a comment
      Va plumber, good comparision on the shut off valve risk.

      Welcome to the forum.

      Rick.

    • Bob D.
      Bob D. commented
      Editing a comment
      Yes but in the example of a main valve malfunction it's all his (the HO's) equipment, you're only adding the muscle to operate the valve.

      You're not introducing anything into the equation that could cause it to fail UNLESS for example you use a cheater to try to close the valve and end up breaking the stem, or close it down so tight you wedge the gate in the seat and rip the stem out of the gate when you go to open it up. Then who's at fault? The weak valve stem or the overzealous wrench turner. The HO won't know the difference and you can get away with blaming it on his POC valve.

  • #19
    Thanks Rick.
    I've run into issues with getting cables stuck or the blades breaking off a time or two. I guess when you've several thousand drains it's bound to happen. The only times it's happened to me is when snaking through Orangeburg pipe which has collapsed. I've had 2 people try to blame me for the collapse, haha. I guess they expect cardboard pipe to last forever.

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    • #20
      I'm going to come off a little rough but here it goes... You called him out to rod your line...You had a blockage..He attempted to clear the blockage. During his repair efforts he got stuck in your blockage. Your blockage broke his cable. You obviously have an issue that's more than just rodding. How is this his fault? Put aside that the technician seems kind of loopy suggesting to the home owner to do the repairs themselves....The responsibility unfortunately is yours.Its not like you said hey come rod me out for the heck of it..You had a problem ,your problem is more than what you think.. First things first camera the line see what youre hung up on .Now if his equipment was inferior and potentially a problem then that's a different story. You're in Evanston Illinois which is cook county. Basically follows chicago code...I'd be careful out there digging...depending on the depth of the line repair costs should be around $2,400.00 Hire someone else ...Put in a clean out ,do a thorough rodding ,problem solved.....

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      • #21
        Originally posted by sewermonster85 View Post
        I'm going to come off a little rough but here it goes... You called him out to rod your line...You had a blockage..He attempted to clear the blockage. During his repair efforts he got stuck in your blockage. Your blockage broke his cable. You obviously have an issue that's more than just rodding. How is this his fault? Put aside that the technician seems kind of loopy suggesting to the home owner to do the repairs themselves....The responsibility unfortunately is yours.Its not like you said hey come rod me out for the heck of it..You had a problem ,your problem is more than what you think.. First things first camera the line see what youre hung up on .Now if his equipment was inferior and potentially a problem then that's a different story. You're in Evanston Illinois which is cook county. Basically follows chicago code...I'd be careful out there digging...depending on the depth of the line repair costs should be around $2,400.00 Hire someone else ...Put in a clean out ,do a thorough rodding ,problem solved.....
        Well said Monst. As Our friend Gear use to say " SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP "
        I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

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        • #22
          The HO have caused the plumbers tool to break.

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          • #23
            T

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            • #24
              Not necessarily. I have a perfect example of a job I did yesterday. Homeowner called 3 days ago about a high water bill. I went to inspect and saw he had an old gate valve inside, the water meter was located outside. I asked him to close the valve because I didn't want to make myself responsible for it. He turned it off by hand, I went out and confirmed the meter was still spinning. Went back inside and let him know. He tries turning the water back on and the handle is just free spinning. Now he has no water at all. I offered to replace it at a reduced price as well as doing a water line replacement. Had I been the one to turn the valve I wouldn't be responsible for repairing his water line for free.

              Now with the sewer line situation this homeowner was made aware the sewer line was broken and had root intrusion. They decided to do temporary repairs (snaking) instead of doing the right thing and fixing the pipe. Sometimes the temporary fix will get you by for years sometimes it will exacerbate the problem.

              Unfortunately we only have one side of the story. We don't know if the plumber's blade was in bad shape, if he was too aggressive, if it just happened to get caught in an offset. The only thing we know, based on the op's story, is that the line was broken before the plumber arrived and it's still broken after the plumber left. Why should the plumber be required to pay for replacing a line that was broken before he arrived? If that were me I would not charge for the snaking since I didn't accomplish the task I was contracted for. And I would give an estimate to hydro-jet the line or excavate.

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              • #25
                Sorry for the now tripple post, haha. How do you reply on this forum? I tried putting the check mark on the post I wanted to reply to then hit post reply but obviously that didn't work.

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