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Thread: Can this be real? $700 drip

  1. #1

    Default Can this be real? $700 drip

    Looking for anyone's thoughts on this....
    We live in northern california (sacramento area), and called out a plumber (from a well known, larger outfit) to fix two leaks.
    Drip 1 - drip at the threads of a 1" copper thread fitting to 1" PVC thread fitting (see pic - lower left corner) - Quote: $200
    Drip 2 - drip between two 3/4" couplings which would entail replacement from the T that goes into the house, the main valve (red), and probably the 90 elbow. (see pic) Quote: $500

    So the total was $700! I have done my own plumbing fixes for several years, including two full bathroom remodels; but I finally decided that I didn't have the time right now. But wow, is this really what it should cost? I'm all for paying good rates to good contractors, but Drip 1 would only entail cutting the vertical copper pipe, tightening the leaky threads add a coupling, and sweat; would it take more than 1 hour for a pro?

    Drip 2 would be a bit more challenging, no doubt, with more joints to fit and sweat.

    I was expecting to pay $200-300. Figuring <$50 for parts, $50 for the service call, and 2-3 hours of work at anywhere from 75-100/hr. Am I way off?

    Unfortunately I wasn't home, so my wife was there to talk to the guy, who, incidentally gave her the "preferred discount" hahah. I also wonder if he was overpricing because he didn't like to sweat pipes and wanted to move to the next job.

    So, should I get another quote? or plan to spend Saturday with my favorite propane torch... (oh, and incidentally, should I replace the main valve with a gate or ball valve?)


    Thanks for any comments.
    Ed
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  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default $700

    Leak #1 just needs an elbow and a threaded PVC nipple, not a male adapter. About 5 minutes.

    Leak #2 remove the couplings and stub from the tee, and everything including the elbow. Install two pieces of copper with a good ball valve and a new elbow, maybe one hour, depending on whether there are any problems removing the stub from the tee.

    No different than what we run into every day, and would love to be able to charge $700.00 for doing it, although we might not get any repeat business from the customer. Your problem is calling a nationally franchised plumber/drain cleaner plumber.

  3. #3
    Consultant cwhyu2's Avatar
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    Default

    Is that backflow preventer to an irrgation system or whole house?

  4. #4

    Default 5 minutes?

    There is no such thing as a 5 minute job.
    1. Get parts
    2. Travel time
    3. Get tools from truck
    4. Repair problem
    5. Put tools away
    6. Write invoice

    $700.00 is however excessive in my humble opionion

  5. #5
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Default

    I also think $700.00 is an excessive fee...call around and if you can find a company that doesn't pay its employees a % of the call you should get a better rate...

  6. #6
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default job

    5 minutes to do the work. The rest of it depends on how fast he drives, whether he walks fast or limps to the jobsite and back to the truck, and whether he can write or has to print the invoice.

  7. #7
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Default

    You could probably fix that first one by releasing that union, unscrewing the female adapter from the PVC, add some new pipe dope and Teflon tape, and put it back together. You can probably fix it yourself in less time than it would take to call the plumber.

  8. #8

    Default

    Thanks for the feedback, guys!

    cwhyu2 - the bfp is for an irrigation system which runs off through the PVC. I installed it (and the irrigation), with the help of this forum this past summer. o'course it happens that the copper joint that is leaking is not the one I touched when doing the bfp....however, I'm guessing that by adding on the bfp, it may have added some stress to the other side of the T where it failed. As soon as I get this fixed, I'm going to secure the whole thing down.

    bob - yup, I considered doing that - however....that whole bfp and union mess took me a _very_ long time to get together without leaking; actually, it leaked for a couple days (i was too frustrated to look at it), and then it magically stopped, so I'm reluctant to take it apart again. THe problem I had was that it's heavy, and there was no good way to mount it real secure so that I could get the unions lined up nicely. and not having a lot of experience, I really didn't want to screw up that bfp ($$).

    tonkykarns - yup - I agree, no 5 min jobs. they've got bills to pay as well, so I don't mind paying a reasonable rate for their time doing the things you mentioned.

  9. #9
    Plumber patrick88's Avatar
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    Default

    $700.00 I bet the guy was in a good mood. I think with the set up you have the price is more than fare. I would also not forget to think of the cost of phone book adds and driving to and from the job and the labor.
    I'm just starting to work with an old friend of mine to bring solar electric and hot water systems, wind turbines, Flex Fuel Boilers, batteries, hydroponic gardening, books, pellet grills and more. Also the parts for DIY installation.

  10. #10

    Default

    So, should I get another quote?
    An hour labor and less than $20 in materials.

    You do the math.


    It's not like it's electrical work or anything difficult

  11. #11
    Licensed Grump GrumpyPlumber's Avatar
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    Default

    I'd owe $20 for doing this job.
    Simple math tells me the amount of time it takes me to do this job would be in the negatives as this thread progresses.
    "The biggest regrets we have in life are the chances we never took."

  12. #12
    Engineer Furd's Avatar
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    Default

    Do I understand correctly that nothing is supporting that backflow preventer in the first photo but the connecting piping? It really needs to be supported independent of the piping.

    Unless the PVC thread adapter is cracked (quite possible if it is supporting the BFP) disconnecting the union and unthreading, retaping and doping (use a teflon dope approved for PVC) and reassembly should take care of that leak.

    I would also replace those galvanized nipples with brass or bronze. In fact, after I properly secured the BFP I would likely repipe the whole darn thing with PVC.

    It is also a good idea to keep the dust caps in place on the test cocks.

  13. #13
    Consultant cwhyu2's Avatar
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    Default Bfp

    It might be a good ideal to install before and after the BFP the ones that came with it are for testing only.Ball valves should installed to isolate and
    not use the ones that came with it.Put the caps back on as to debris
    will cause an improper reading.I think that is to high of a price to repair
    2 IPS leaks.

  14. #14

    Default

    Thanks, cwhyu2; i'll put the caps back on! I'll have to look to see if I have room for an additional ball valve on either side; i think it will be a bit tight. When I read the instructions that it must be isolated, I assumed the valves included were intended for that purpose. Thanks for correcting me.

    Furd (or anyone) - could you suggest a proper way which you'd support this thing independent of the piping? what you say makes sense and probably would have made the original job much easier for me, but not sure the best approach since it's not flat on the back and is darn awkward; would you build up a wooden frame and use pipe straps? drive something into the ground and somehow attach? I just can't picture a good solution. Eventually I'll put a wooden box around the thing to hide it.

    Maybe replacing the run w/ pvc is the right idea... That's why I like this place - lots of ideas!

    thanks -
    ed

  15. #15
    DIY Member theelviscerator's Avatar
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    Default

    I thought rule of thumb was 3 quotes anyways.......

    But looking at that I guess I just saved myself about 5000 dollars replumbing and installing all new plumbing to my laundry and running dedicated circuits with ground to replace the old stuff non grounded circuits.

    Just do it yourself, and buy something worth 700 for yourself...new flat panel for the kitchen or something....hehe.
    The world is a grindstone, whether it wears you down, or polishes you up, is up to you.

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