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  • "I'm not paying this...'

    So I need some advice on this one...

    I got a call from the medical clinic where my physician works, the secretary said that the owner (an MD we'll call him Dr. X) has a leaking water line on a pump and would like me to come look at it and asked me how much. I said its 125.00 for the 1st hour and 90.00 for every hour thereafter she said ok here's his address. I give the work order to my plumber Dave. He said well it's 330 I should be done here in an hour and I can go up then. I asked the secretary if it can wait till tomorrow and she said well he's got no water. So I send Dave up there and he gets there at about 5.
    Turns out this house is way up on the top crest of a hill and the water lines are on pressure booster pumps that pump into holding tanks at the house.
    The line is 2" PVC and the pump pushes the water pressure up to 190 PSI. The male adapter going into pump flange cracked.
    Dave cuts it out & replaces it along with a 90 that takes the horizontal coming off the pump and makes is go vertical to go back down into the ground.
    He used the Wet R Dry blue glue. He also sands his PVC pipe and fittings something I don't do but he says it makes it stick better.
    He waits 30 min and turns on the water, no leaks, then the pump. At 160 PSI the 90 blows off. He cuts it out again and does is again this time with the heavy grey PVC glue and waits 45 min. It blows out again at about 160 PSI. At this point its' 9:00 and he's been there for 4 hours and I've been there for 2. Frustrated and with no light we call it a night and tell Dr. X we'll be back first thing in the morning.
    The next morning Dave goes out and puts 2 Unistrut & Strut clamps to hold down the horizontal and to hold the verticle against the concrete pad it was running down.
    At Dr.X's request he changes the 2" PVC ball valve, & union coming off the pump to brass. Because in the Dr.'s own words "money is not an issue, I want only the best most solid parts"
    The PVC 90 blows out again @ 160 PSI. It even twisted the unistrut !
    So we cut it out AGAIN and put another piece of strut and clamp right on the 90. We wait 2 hours only to have the same thing happen.
    Frustrated and working till 9pm again. We apologize profusely because we are under the impression he has no water. But the good Dr. was ever so grateful for our effort. We suggested changing the 90 to copper and using a two 45's to offset the vertical PVC coming out of the ground since it was a bit cockeyed. He agreed.
    So on Saturday morning (the next morning) we go out to do just that. Now this time we actually went over to the breaker for the pumps instead of the Dr doing it. We see that the breaker for the pump labeled "non-potable irrigation" was off and the potable water pump was on. Me and Dave look at each other like you got to be kidding me, we've been working till 9 at night and this guy has had water the whole time. I asked the Dr. if he had water he said yes. I said now that we know this is just for your irrigation we're going to let the glue dry for 24 hours. He said well I my grass just got cut and I'm real worried about it dying. I say well grass dying is better than us doing this again. He agreed. He turned the pump on the next day with no issue.
    I send him a bill totaling about 4k. For about 32 billable hours of work + the brass fittings & copper fittings & pipe.
    He calls me today saying he just got my bill and it had to be a joke. I said no, why?. He said that he shouldn't have to pay for us learning how to glue pipe and any other time that one of those lines has broken its only been 250. He'll pay for the parts since he requested them but there's no way he's paying for all the labor.

    Advice, thoughts, criticism is welcomed...

    “Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think.”— Francisco d'Anconia
    Atlas Shrugged (Part 2, Chapter 2, Page 411)

  • #2
    Re: "I'm not paying this...'

    Once a customer agrees to your terms for service, he is legally bound to pay up

    regardless of the cost. Don't dick around with this a-hole. Pursue your legal

    options. Take him to small claims court. Drs. are the worst. If you honestly feel

    that your efforts were sub-standard then you may try to negotiate, but he cannot

    refuse to pay your bill. Prior jobs have no bearing.


    • #3
      Re: "I'm not paying this...'

      Since when did the Doctor become an expert in Plumbing? Since gluing PVC was so easy, why where you there in the first place?

      What would the Doctor's bill be if you spent 2 days with him? As a Patient, you would be paying for him to run tests on you.

      "See you in court" would be my answer to him.

      Don't cave in...stand your ground with this guy.
      Last edited by Flux; 09-08-2011, 07:37 AM.


      • #4
        Re: "I'm not paying this...'

        I hate to tell you you should have known that it takes 24 hours for pvc glue to dry properly on pressure pipe and you should have asked more questions before you started this job but we all live and learn so I you should cut my losses and come to a deal as going to court will cost more and a lot of your time



        • #5
          Re: "I'm not paying this...'

          You should have checked the breaker first, you would have seen the potable was on and non-potable was off. Always see things with your own eyes and double check everything. Always assess the entire situation first before starting work. Bottom line, you are the professional contractor, not the customer, so I say it's your fault. Lesson learned the hard way. Sorry.

          BTW, I agree the Dr. is a jerk and I feel for you, but nevertheless, I think the fault lies mostly with you as the contractor.


          • #6
            Re: "I'm not paying this...'

            First off it doesn't matter what he has paid in the past...that's in the past....second he agreed to your terms....and he is bound by those terms...if he directed you into how the plumbing was situated then that is his fault....if you truly did your job in good faith and to the best of your ability then you are owed whats due to you....And as mentioned before they run all kinds of test to tell what's wrong with you....and if they are wrong you pay to go back and run more tests and pay for more doctors bill out different rates for different people and don't get to do that....what doctors do is called practice...tell him you see him in court and be done with it....if he is refusing to pay then when you go to court you can add court costs to the bill and tell him that.......if you feel that you could have or should have done things differently then compromise and take a partial loss....IMO....
            Poor Planning On Your Part Does Not Constitute An Emergency On My Part!!
            You can fire me...but you can't tell me what to do!



            • #7
              Re: "I'm not paying this...'

              Do you belong to the nra ?
              I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .


              • #8
                Re: "I'm not paying this...'

                I am not a plumber, but I have to agree with Tony and mechanicman, and chalk it up as a learning experience. Truth is your the plumber, regardless of what the customer told you, you are the professional and should have done the diagnostic and exploratory research into the problem fully. I have to ask, when you first started, did you shut off the breaker to the pump and not check the label of the breaker?

                It sucks, it really does, but we all have these moments and we all take our lumps and move on. To be honest, I wouldn't pay it either. After the first blow off, I would have told the home owner that they would have no choice, but water would have to be off for a day for the glue to cure correctly.

                Suck it up man, at least you know that you'll never do it again and you know pvc glue won't hold 160psi until fully cured!

                At least your not on the hook for materials and he is willing to pay for that. Being out labor sucks, but labor is easier to absorb than cost of materials. Sucks that you had another plumber there and not just you.

                Good luck man.


                • #9
                  Re: "I'm not paying this...'

                  Put a lean on the home.
                  Ron Hasil Lic #058-160417
                  A-Archer Sewer & Plumbing specializing in:
                  Tankless Water Heaters | Drain and Sewer Cleaning
                  Sump and Ejector Pumps | Backflow RPZ Testing


                  • #10
                    Re: "I'm not paying this...'

                    I learned long ago not to keep working on something that I know is going to take a lot more of my time and effort than I first thought without telling the customer how much more it would cost him. If you didn't stop somewhere in the middle and give him a heads up what was in store for him, he is probably within his right to question the bill. Using PVC in the first place with pressures like that in my opinion wasn't a great idea anyhow. Maybe you should have suggested copper as soon as you found what kind of pressures he was running through this pipe.

                    Small claims court is a joke. Even if the guy doesn't show and you win, you still have to go after the money. This is where it gets real expensive. Nine times out of ten it will cost you more than you receive.
                    Frequently asked questions about pumps and tanks.


                    • #11
                      Re: "I'm not paying this...'

                      I also have to agree it sucks but...... I don't think I would pay it either. If someone hit me with a 4K dollar bill without telling be before hand what I'm looking at I would be upset too. If the customer was watching this entire episode unfold with one fitting blowing off after another I would also be questioning their skills. 160 psi and not waiting for it to cure completely just doesn't make sense.
                      I would chalk it up as a learning experience and move on. It's not worth the headache.


                      • #12
                        Re: "I'm not paying this...'

                        hate to say it, but honestly the dr. is correct.

                        true, it would be nice to have known that the pipe/ pump was for irrigation, but it doesn't really matter.

                        we all know that glue doesn't dry that fast. especially on high pressure, large diameter and pump cycles. all a recipe for disaster.

                        you being the pro should have set the ground rules for the job.

                        i would write off all the excess time and bill him for what it should have taken. bill him for the couple hours up front and then another hour for coming back to restart it.

                        i don't think suing him will be to your best interest.

                        i had something similar happen a couple years back on a 1'' pvc irrigation line. let it glue overnight and it held for a week before seeping. never blew off. repeated this 2 more times over the next couple weeks. even suggested to swap it to copper. even tried sch80 pipe and fittings on the 90.

                        problem was that with the automatic sprinklers, the pressure spike would jump it to over 300# every time the valves opened and closed. told them it should be copper on the pressure side. but they didn't want to swap it out as it's been like that for years. even suggested a regulator and hammer arrestor.

                        so after the 3rd try, we let it sit for several days.

                        total charge was 2 hours plus original parts. i never even attempted to bill them for anything more than the original repair. but i did write up on my invoice about the copper/ pressure and what should be done in case it happened again down the road.

                        sorry you've invested so much time, but write it off to a learning experience and it will never happen again.

                        phoebe it is


                        • #13
                          Re: "I'm not paying this...'

                          in the time it took me to write my post #12, there were post 8,9,10 and 11 written. 3 out of 4 are on the same page. all from pros in the trades.

                          ray, it's great you shared this with all of us. but when a good percentage of pros see it differently, i feel you need to work out what's fair to the customer. even if you never plan on working for them again.

                          Last edited by PLUMBER RICK; 09-08-2011, 10:36 AM. Reason: spell check.
                          phoebe it is


                          • #14
                            Re: "I'm not paying this...'

                            Thanks everyone! I am going to reduce the labor to a total of 5 hours or 450.00. I think this would be fair for the initial repair and the repair with copper & brass with fittings per his request. I am glad I posted this great advice everyone.

                            “Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think.”— Francisco d'Anconia
                            Atlas Shrugged (Part 2, Chapter 2, Page 411)



                            • #15
                              Re: "I'm not paying this...'

                              I am not one to second guess anyones business practice.

                              My only advice and a motto we live by in my company.

                              "Verify what the customer is telling you first, before you start jumping in."

                              I cannot tell you how many times I have had both residential and commercial customers tell us something over the phone, only to come out and find that they are clueless in what they are talking about.

                              I think you did the right thing in reducing your bill.