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Thread: Root Removal Problem

  1. #1

    Default Root Removal Problem

    My daughter had her floor drain backup and called in a drain service to check things out ... they ran a root cutter into the 4" main and ended up getting it stuck ... at that point they said the line must be damaged and ended up calling in a construction company to dig up the street to retrieve the cutter. At that point it was discovered that no problem existed, other than a lot of roots in the line, and the cutter was hung up because the operator couldn't pull it back ... it was all wadded up with roots and it had been pushed past the 4" cast iron line and into the larger clay tile under the street.

    The question I have is for the plumbers here as I was wondering if it is normal practice to bill the customer, my daughter in this case, for all of the excavation costs in this kind of a situation? While I understand the roots should have been addressed sooner (had she known) but it seems to me that at least some of the fault lies with the drain service for not being a little more careful in clearing the line

    Feel free to tell me I'm an idiot for thinking this but my daughter doesn't have the thousands of dollars to pay this kind of bill and this has put her in a big bind

    Thanks!
    Dave

  2. #2
    Rancher
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    I'd say if they lost their cutter past your daughter's line, then they are at fault. They didn't have to retrieve their cutter, they chose to do that, excavation was not on her property...

    Rancher

  3. #3
    Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek Mikey's Avatar
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    Default

    If it were me, I'd have my lawyer explain to them that they are supposed to know what they're doing, and if they screw up, it's their problem, no matter where they lost their cutter. Surely they carry insurance for this sort of thing?

  4. #4
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    One of the advantages of hiring a licensed professional is that they assume the liability of damages to property. This is clearly their problem. If they are seeking your daughter to pay for this, then I would urge her to consult an attorney immediately.

  5. #5
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    I agree. Fight the drain cleaning company. Anyone who does drain cleaning as a profession knows that you have to be very careful on root bound lines.

    Slowly keep digging into the roots, pull back and clear the end of your cable and repeat till it is a easy path through the main.

    The discovery of roots only and no collapsed line was a misjudgement on their part which has no responsibility back to your daughter. All she is liable for is the drain cleaning charge, no excavation.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  6. #6
    Rancher
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    In fact, you might try paying them only the drain cleaning fee, and tell them your attorney said they have no legal right to recoup any money lost due to damages beyond her control.

    Rancher

    Be sure you pay them the drain cleaning fee!

  7. #7

    Default

    I wouldn't even pay them the drain cleaning fee if there are still roots in the line. In fact, I might sue them for stress and aggravation, as well as for any time I might have missed from work. I'm sure one of you plumbers would be happy to be hired as an expert witness for the lady.

  8. #8
    Rancher
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    No they apparently cleaned the line, losing their cutter in the process. If you don't pay them the cleaning fee, then they are entitled to put a lien on your property, so always be sure to pay them for what you contracted for.

    Rancher

  9. #9
    Plumber plumber1's Avatar
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    I'd say operator incompetence and he tried to do the job too quickly.

    You always have to sneak up to the obstruction carefully so as not to get that bound up.

    And if you think there are too many roots, stop and talk to the customer and give them the choice having you continue or excavate.

    Explain it to them and let them decide.

  10. #10

    Default

    thanks for all the comments ... I guess I'm not crazy after all

  11. #11
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    One other thing. If they torn up your yard excavating the line, they have to restore it to your satisfaction.

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default sewer

    She is in a gray area. I might not have gotten the snake caught in the line, but if the roots are too inpenetrable the line might still have had to have been excavated to remove them and repair the pipe where they entered it. It is even happens in some cases that the pipe is not repairable and has to be completely replaced, but that does not seem to be the case here. Even if the sewer could have been cleared, that only cures the problem for a period of time. The roots would still grow back and each time they grow back they become harder to remove because they bescome thicker and longer each time. Eventually excavation and repair/replacement will be necessary. Normally I would side with the homeowner in a situation like this, but in this case I get the impression that the stuck snake was incidental to what was required to perform the job.

  13. #13

    Default

    sorry to be slow in responding to this but ...

    it's my understanding that after they dug up the line and removed the root cutter, the only thing they did was add PVC to the existing 4" cast iron so that it would drain into the city's clay tile (since they had to break the last section of clay to access the root cutter they would have needed to do something to "reconnect" the lines)

    Had they done something to fix the problem I could understand the bill but it looks to me like they dug up the street and didn't really do a darn thing to keep the problem from recurring

    I'll be having a little chat with them tomorrow on behalf of my daughter and we'll see where things go ...

    thanks again for all the input

  14. #14
    Master Plumber Dunbar Plumbing's Avatar
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    What are they charging in relation to what normal drain cleaning charges were?

    Leaving the problem to reoccur is not good......unless this discrepancy evolved midstream of the events taking place.
    Read what the end of this sentence means.

  15. #15

    Default

    I don't have a copy of her bills but I believe she said around $500 for drain cleaning and around $2500 for digging up the street

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