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  1. #1
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    Question Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Can I get a few opinions from the knowledgeable reader base on a plumbing incident?

    During a biennial sanitary sewer clean out (to remove root intrusion near the connection with the city main in the street) a contracted plumber broke his snake upon retrieval at the point where 6" reduces to 4" (6' below ground under a driveway). The only clean-out is a 4" access in the basement.

    Who is responsible for the excavation, pipe breaking and repair, and subsequent back-filling/driveway repair?

    Thanks!

    Inspection Referral SOC

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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Linoski View Post
    Can I get a few opinions from the knowledgeable reader base on a plumbing incident?

    During a biennial sanitary sewer clean out (to remove root intrusion near the connection with the city main in the street) a contracted plumber broke his snake upon retrieval at the point where 6" reduces to 4" (6' below ground under a driveway). The only clean-out is a 4" access in the basement.

    Who is responsible for the excavation, pipe breaking and repair, and subsequent back-filling/driveway repair?

    Thanks!
    All plumbers that I know have it in their contract that if anything happens (snake breaks) the customer is responsible for all cost.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Did you sign an agreement with the plumber before he undertook the snaking?
    Alternatively you could argue his equipment was faulty, not kept in good repair or he was careless in the use of his equipment.
    Then again does he carry general liability for such instances?

    The fact is the onus is on you to prove he was at fault for the mishap and cost to repair.

    I assume since you did not tell us, he is refusing to pay for repair?


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Did you sign an agreement with the plumber before he undertook the snaking?
    Alternatively you could argue his equipment was faulty, not kept in good repair or he was careless in the use of his equipment.
    Then again does he carry general liability for such instances?

    The fact is the onus is on you to prove he was at fault for the mishap and cost to repair.

    I assume since you did not tell us, he is refusing to pay for repair?

    WELL...it was a family member (cousin, long time professional plumbing business).

    NO prior agreement. Foolishly went on assumption that since in wasn't a broken pipe that caused the snag, my responsibility ends with payment for the clean-out service.

    So the gist of my post is the "onus" : Is getting a snake stuck in a 6" to 4" pipe reducer the homeowner's fault or the plumber's?


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    You paid the plumber to send his snake into your drain to clean any obstruction. If your drain is in need of repair and cause the snake to break it is the property owner's responsibility to have the sewer dug and repaired in which time the broken snake can be removed.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Hasil View Post
    You paid the plumber to send his snake into your drain to clean any obstruction. If your drain is in need of repair and cause the snake to break it is the property owner's responsibility to have the sewer dug and repaired in which time the broken snake can be removed.

    Ron, you wouldn't call a 6" to 4" reducer a "drain is in need of repair", would you? That is the issue here.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Linoski View Post
    Ron, you wouldn't call a 6" to 4" reducer a "drain is in need of repair", would you? That is the issue here.
    If the 4x6 is so root impacted that it causes the cable to break or if it is not a proper transition fitting (4" slide into 6" pipe and cemented in place) it is in need of repair.

    I have dug up 1000's of 4x6 joints to do a proper transition fitting and eliminate the source of roots entering the sewer.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Hasil View Post
    If the 4x6 is so root impacted that it causes the cable to break or if it is not a proper transition fitting (4" slide into 6" pipe and cemented in place) it is in need of repair.

    I have dug up 1000's of 4x6 joints to do a proper transition fitting and eliminate the source of roots entering the sewer.

    Root infiltration is 35' away from the 6" to 4" reducer. Plumber says his line backed up on itself and would not fit back through the reducer.

    So, if the sole reason is a reducer and not roots or a broken pipe, is the plumber responsible (no prior written agreement)?


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Why not just split the cost? Since you don't have a contract, its a he said - he said thing.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Why not just split the cost? Since you don't have a contract, its a he said - he said thing.
    Hope that could be a result. We'll see over the next few days.

    Thx all for the opinions.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    If it is just a ball of roots stuck on the end of the rod that is bigger than the 4" pipe, it should come out eventually. I have been rodding sewers for 30+ years now never had a rod get stuck due to a ball of roots. I have gotten stuck at a heavy root infiltration at the 4x6 joint which was in need of repair, I have gotten stuck due to the pipe being collapsed or broken. But never had an issue where I couldn't retrieve my rod due to a root mass on the end of the rod... It may of taken some time back and forth with the rod to get the mass to break down small enough to get back, but never stuck.

    Look at it this way. It's al part of the job of getting the line clear, you have to pay the plumber for his time even if it involves extra work. No one can foresee what is under ground and what is going to happen to the rod during a drain cleaning. Just like when a surgeon opens you up for a routine surgery and complications happen during the surgery. They are not going to fix the complications at the original cost, they are going to bill you for every minute extra it takes them to repair the complications along with the original surgery.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Hasil View Post
    Just like when a surgeon opens you up for a routine surgery and complications happen during the surgery. They are not going to fix the complications at the original cost, they are going to bill you for every minute extra it takes them to repair the complications along with the original surgery.
    Reminds me of a joke
    A Doctor calls a plumber to unclog the toilet. Plumber comes out and 10 minutes later hands the Doctor a bill for $150. The Doctor takes the bill, looks at the plumber and says to him, "Isn't that kinda high for 10 minutes work. I don't even charge that much." The plumber looks at the Doctor and says, "When I was a Doctor I didn't either."

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    A system engineer was forced into retirement from a company that he had worked at for 25 years, with the reason that he is overqualified for the work that he preforms. basically was told any new graduate can do the same job for half the cost.

    One day one of the machines acted up at the company and all the new guys spent days trying to figure it out and they just could not get this machine up and running. So the owner of the company calls the system engineer asking him if he could tell the new guys how to repair the machine. The system engineer said no I can not do that, but you can hire me for 35 Grand as a consultant. The owner agreed, since with each passing day he is losing money with this machine on the fritz.

    The system engineer shows up the next day, and all parties signed contracts. He then walks up to the machine, opens a control panel and hits a reset button and tapped on a component , and the machine springs back to life. The owner outrage said " You mean to tell me I am paying you 35 grand for just pressing a button and tapping on a part?!?!" The system engineer said "No sir, you are paying me 35 grand for knowing what button to push and which part to tap on."


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    I had a similar problem at the 4 to 6 inch connection out near the street a few years ago, the plumber could tell the snake was caught. He worked it for awhile and got it free, it appeared he knew what to do based on previous experience. It was clay drain line cemented at the joint.

    Removed it 6 months later and installed all new PVC to stop the roots from getting in the line.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Hasil View Post
    If the 4x6 is so root impacted that it causes the cable to break or if it is not a proper transition fitting (4" slide into 6" pipe and cemented in place) it is in need of repair.
    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Linoski View Post
    ... plumber broke his snake upon retrieval
    Ron,

    The way I read that is that the plumber cleaned the roots out as his snake went in ... and it was upon retrieval - coming back through the pipe he had just cleaned - that the snake broke off.

    From what I have read in the original post and the other posts ... we have not been given sufficient information to know the cause of the breakage of the snake:
    - a) was the snake run past the point it broke and had it removed the roots as intended
    - b) was the snake damaged or otherwise ready to break when too much retraction pressure was applied
    - c) were the roots not fully cleaned out as the snake went through
    - d) was the sewer line cracked to the point that it caused the snake to get hung up
    - e) ??? there are likely other potential reasons the snake broke, some which I would consider the homeowners responsibility while others would be the plumbers responsibility

    Regardless, though, it was a cousin - who was a long time licensed contractor - and without knowing the cause of the breakage the bill should likely be split ... at least that should be the agreement until and unless it can be determined without dispute that the cause was either the homeowner's or the plumber's.

    Then, the family (cousins) are both happy and upset, but they shared the cost as a family.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ron,

    The way I read that is that the plumber cleaned the roots out as his snake went in ... and it was upon retrieval - coming back through the pipe he had just cleaned - that the snake broke off.

    From what I have read in the original post and the other posts ... we have not been given sufficient information to know the cause of the breakage of the snake:
    - a) was the snake run past the point it broke and had it removed the roots as intended
    - b) was the snake damaged or otherwise ready to break when too much retraction pressure was applied
    - c) were the roots not fully cleaned out as the snake went through
    - d) was the sewer line cracked to the point that it caused the snake to get hung up
    - e) ??? there are likely other potential reasons the snake broke, some which I would consider the homeowners responsibility while others would be the plumbers responsibility

    Regardless, though, it was a cousin - who was a long time licensed contractor - and without knowing the cause of the breakage the bill should likely be split ... at least that should be the agreement until and unless it can be determined without dispute that the cause was either the homeowner's or the plumber's.

    Then, the family (cousins) are both happy and upset, but they shared the cost as a family.
    Same thing I said, except, I only used 6 words.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    "Plumber says his line backed up on itself and would not fit back through the reducer".
    He broke his snake. Maybe it was damaged already. No roots.

    If a machine operator breaks his machine on my property, I don't have to pay for the repair of his equipment, and I don't pay for his lost time fixing it.

    But if the breakdown damages something of mine, we have to come to a mutual agreement.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    Same thing I said, except, I only used 6 words.
    19 words ... but who is counting?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ron,

    The way I read that is that the plumber cleaned the roots out as his snake went in ... and it was upon retrieval - coming back through the pipe he had just cleaned - that the snake broke off.

    From what I have read in the original post and the other posts ... we have not been given sufficient information to know the cause of the breakage of the snake:
    - a) was the snake run past the point it broke and had it removed the roots as intended
    - b) was the snake damaged or otherwise ready to break when too much retraction pressure was applied
    - c) were the roots not fully cleaned out as the snake went through
    - d) was the sewer line cracked to the point that it caused the snake to get hung up
    - e) ??? there are likely other potential reasons the snake broke, some which I would consider the homeowners responsibility while others would be the plumbers responsibility

    Regardless, though, it was a cousin - who was a long time licensed contractor - and without knowing the cause of the breakage the bill should likely be split ... at least that should be the agreement until and unless it can be determined without dispute that the cause was either the homeowner's or the plumber's.

    Then, the family (cousins) are both happy and upset, but they shared the cost as a family.
    a) Yes (no roots attached to the head as one post speculated)
    b) ?? wasn't my equipment, wouldn't expect an experienced plumber to use damaged equipment
    c) roots cleared thoroughly
    d) mentioned before - no line damage, only a 6" to 4" reducer well away from the root issue
    e) not sure what these would be

    It is the case of a twisted cable stuck in a reducer - homeowner or plumber's liability without any prior agreement?

    I may hope for a split of a $2,500 bill (w/o driveway repaired) but first statement was for me to pay it all.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Linoski View Post
    Root infiltration is 35' away from the 6" to 4" reducer. Plumber says his line backed up on itself and would not fit back through the reducer.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Hasil View Post
    If the 4x6 is so root impacted that it causes the cable to break or if it is not a proper transition fitting (4" slide into 6" pipe and cemented in place) it is in need of repair.

    I have dug up 1000's of 4x6 joints to do a proper transition fitting and eliminate the source of roots entering the sewer.
    Ron,

    Question: The 4x6 reducer is 4" coming out of the house and going to 6", or 6" coming out of the house and going to 4"?

    From the description I am visualizing the 6" is coming from the house and going to a 4", but that does make sense.

    I ask because of this:
    - P3005.1.7 Change in size.
    The size of the drainage piping shall not be reduced in size in the direction of the flow. A 4-inch - - by 3-inch (102 mm by 76 mm) water closet connection shall not be considered as a reduction in size.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Ron,

    Question: The 4x6 reducer is 4" coming out of the house and going to 6", or 6" coming out of the house and going to 4"?

    From the description I am visualizing the 6" is coming from the house and going to a 4", but that does make sense.

    I ask because of this:
    - P3005.1.7 Change in size.
    The size of the drainage piping shall not be reduced in size in the direction of the flow. A 4-inch - - by 3-inch (102 mm by 76 mm) water closet connection shall not be considered as a reduction in size.

    6" from street to within eight feet of house, then reduces to 4" (between two 45 angles).
    All root clearing was successful and no prior pipe damage at the site of the jam (the reducer).


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    The 4" is coming from the home tying into the 6" line here in Illinois that tie in is within 5' of the building.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post

    Ron,

    From what I have read in the original post and the other posts ... we have not been given sufficient information to know the cause of the breakage of the snake:
    - a) was the snake run past the point it broke and had it removed the roots as intended
    We can only hope it was ran past the point, and all the way till it makes the connection to the city sewer. As that is the only way to ensure no future back-ups.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    - b) was the snake damaged or otherwise ready to break when too much retraction pressure was applied
    While pulling a rod back there is no such thing as to much pressure, if there was a large ball of something on the rod it would spin at the one point till the ball gets chewed up and made smaller. Now if the cutter end got hung up at the joint (misaligned joint) to much torque can lead to breakage of the cable. I have had this happened, when there is not much cable in the line and the cutter suddenly stops max torque can be achieved rather quickly and unexpectedly.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    - c) were the roots not fully cleaned out as the snake went through
    I can tell you if it was only the first pass, more than likely the roots were not fully cleaned out yet. When I rod sewers I make a pass with a small starting tool to get the line flowing, then increase size with each pass. In most cases its three to four passes.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    - d) was the sewer line cracked to the point that it caused the snake to get hung up
    This in the past was only to be answered when the sewer is dug up and inspected. If the line is still not flowing digging is the only way since camera's do not show a good picture when there is waste in front of the lens. If the line is flowing then televising it would answer this question.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    - e) ??? there are likely other potential reasons the snake broke, some which I would consider the homeowners responsibility while others would be the plumbers responsibility
    Misaligned joints: can cause the cutter to bind and build up torque which in turn can break the cable.

    Heavy roots: The OP says the plumber said the rod turned around on itself and knotted up at the 4x6 joint. This is rare, but there are times the cutter will hit a heavy root blockage and do an about face. This can lead to the rod just not wanting to come out and only way to remove it is to dig.

    Broken pipe: Broken pipe the rid can leave the pipe and dig into the soil outside the sewer and get stuck.

    The above would all fall on 100% building owner reasonability. As for the plumbers fault here is the list that could of gone wrong on the plumbers end.

    Cable partly broken: I have removed tons of broken cables from lines where I hear the operator said oh the outside wind of the cable was cracked but the inner cable was fine. So in other words the people that run in cracked cable are inexperienced and did not know better.

    Connecter is worn: The cables are held together with connecters of different types depending on brand of cable and machine. The connectors get so worn out that they will come undone in the line.

    Cable was in an Acid: Lots of home owners tend to use these acid base type cleaners before they call us. This ruins our cables, but it takes 24 hours for it to show and in 99% of the cases the cable comes out of the drum in pieces since it breaks like peanut brittle. There is the rare case that it comes out ok but once a little torque is applied it breaks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post

    Regardless, though, it was a cousin - who was a long time licensed contractor - and without knowing the cause of the breakage the bill should likely be split ... at least that should be the agreement until and unless it can be determined without dispute that the cause was either the homeowner's or the plumber's.

    Then, the family (cousins) are both happy and upset, but they shared the cost as a family.
    My dad always refuses to do work for family due to most cases they want the work done for nothing and if things go horribly wrong with their plumbing they are pointing fingers. There are a select few he will work for, and they get 25% off the labor.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Ron,

    So the only way to know what was the cause would be to locate the reducing fitting and find out what caused it to hang up and break ... if even possible to determine that.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    This is kind of like the garage door failing and breaking when it is tested during a home inspection!

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    This is kind of like the garage door failing and breaking when it is tested during a home inspection!
    Except it is not the inspector's garage door.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Ron,

    Mine is the posted question. Looking for a clear answer on liability. It seems as the thread moves away from the conditions specific to the question.

    As stated:

    Root intrusion is 40' away, near the connection to the main.
    Roots were cleared successfully.
    NO root ball on the head.
    6" to 4" reducer is within 8' of house.
    NO broken pipes.
    NO misaligned pipes.
    Cable had tangled back onto itself.

    No written contract.
    NO mention it was on my tab to tear up driveway, excavate, break pipe, retrieve snake, repair pipe, back fill with no concrete repair.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Frankly, relative or not, if a plumber (or any service provider) breaks something in the course of their work or repair, and has no contract or disclaimers agreed to prior to commencing the job, then it's on him to prove it was your "faulty" drain pipe, which is concealed and hidden from view until excavation.

    Otherwise, it's his responsibility. Perhaps he didn't maintain the rod or used a damaged section on your job, or lacked the skills necessary to complete the job to industry standards. Why should you pay for that?

    Dom.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dom D'Agostino View Post
    Frankly, relative or not, if a plumber (or any service provider) breaks something in the course of their work or repair, and has no contract or disclaimers agreed to prior to commencing the job, then it's on him to prove it was your "faulty" drain pipe, which is concealed and hidden from view until excavation.

    Otherwise, it's his responsibility. Perhaps he didn't maintain the rod or used a damaged section on your job, or lacked the skills necessary to complete the job to industry standards. Why should you pay for that?

    Dom.
    Dom
    It doesn't work like that. The person making the claim has the burden of proof.

    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

  29. #29
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    My sympathy is with the plumber, but at least around here, that goes to small claims court, the judge is likely going to split the difference.

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Dom
    It doesn't work like that. The person making the claim has the burden of proof.
    Who is making the claim???

    The plumber is claiming that the HO has bad, or failed, drain lines. How would you proceed, with no contract or disclaimer?


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dom D'Agostino View Post
    Who is making the claim???

    The plumber is claiming that the HO has bad, or failed, drain lines. How would you proceed, with no contract or disclaimer?
    Dom, the way I see it is:
    The OP is the HO, and he wants the plumber to pay for repairs. Unless the plumber decides to just write a check to the HO, the HO will need to file a claim in court.
    So, the HO files a claim against the plumber. The burden of proof is on the person filing a claim.
    Not just showing that he has suffered a lose, but also that the plumber is the cause of that loss.
    The Plumber says "Judge, I didn't break it (the drain line). It was already broke when I got there, that is why it stopped working and he called me."
    Now the HO has to have some evidence that the plumber did (or did not) do something that caused the HO to suffer damages.

    Last edited by Rick Cantrell; 03-16-2014 at 03:59 PM.
    ' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.

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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    It seems that all of you are are fixated on the replacement of the snake for the plumber.

    Allen is asking about the cost of getting to the broken snake in the pipe and removing it from the pipe. Which will require digging down to the waste line to remove the snake that is now an obstruction in the line.

    Contractor breaks equipment on a job its the contractor who eats the replacement cost unless there is an agreement to the contrary.

    The plumber mess up in allowing the snake to turn back on itself. He must have gotten carried away in feeding the snake down the pipe. I

    I question what type of snake he was using. The large power snakes I am accustomed to using would be almost impossible to turn 180 deg back on itself without me doing something stupid. The head is to big and the cable is to stiff to bend backwards.

    Would love to know how he did it. (((Have the cable bend back on itself))))

    Would have to say that it is the plumbers responsibility to retrieve snake and clear it from line, what ever it took. I think that he did something down right stupid to get it stuck and break it of in the first place.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    It seems that all of you are are fixated on the replacement of the snake for the plumber.
    To me, the posts don't indicate a fixation on replacement of the snake for the plumber, it seems to me that the discussion has been about the "why" the snake broke, not the replacement of the snake.

    The "why" the snake broke would be answer to the original posters question. Seems to me that was what the question was all about anyway if the "why" is the plumber's fault, or if the "why" is the system piping's fault - that would then answer his question.

    Ron has more experience in the "why" than the rest of do ... probably even the rest of us combined, that is why I was asking Ron those questions.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    And in the end, an important lesson (hopefully) learned for the OP is to never have a relative perform work on your property, without a written contract in place specifying who is responsible for what.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    POI

    Was reading a contract offered by Roto Router (Franchise and not in this case it was Roto Router) and they have an arbitration clause in their contract, but since there is no contract... I would think that would be a common contract term in any contract for this type of service and possible limited liability.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Dom, the way I see it is:
    The OP is the HO, and he wants the plumber to pay for repairs. Unless the plumber decides to just write a check to the HO, the HO will need to file a claim in court.
    So, the HO files a claim against the plumber. The burden of proof is on the person filing a claim.
    Not just showing that he has suffered a lose, but also that the plumber is the cause of that loss.
    The Plumber says "Judge, I didn't break it (the drain line). It was already broke when I got there, that is why it stopped working and he called me."
    Now the HO has to have some evidence that the plumber did (or did not) do something that caused the HO to suffer damages.
    Rick,
    I see your point. Excavation is needed to repair it, and the cause may be visible then. Or not, depending on variables.

    Upon reflection of the issue, I would think that line was already in need of repair to eliminate the need for "biennial root clearing", and since it involves the connection to the city/municipal sewer, the HO was probably advised at some point in the past to dig this up and fix it properly. Don't most plumbers tell people that rodding is a temporary fix?


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Interesting...how do you know there is a pipe reduction and where? I have to assume at some point a camera was sent down the line. Surely the issue is that the line is already broken, otherwise the would be no root infiltration. Having the line rooted it a band-aide approach to what really needs to be done to fix the underlying problem. Both the homeowner and plumber should be aware of possible consequences, having performed the service on previous occasions. Just because the previous clean-outs were semi-successful doesn't mean the problem is fixed. I think both parties share responsibility but the shared extent of which will not be determined until full excavation an exposure. If the plumber doesn't want to get involved have the work performed by a third party, determine the damage, hang up etc. and make necessary repairs, allow the original plumber to oversee the work and if necessary sue in small claims court for reasonable compensation.


  38. #38
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    19 words ... but who is counting?
    I could have told you that was coming.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    All in all, it's an unfortunate incident, and it doesn't sound like it was handled very diplomatically, especially by the cousin who handed you a bill for $2,500. Between the roots and a reducer installed with two 45 deg. elbows, you've evidently got some problems with your sewer lateral, and getting in there and fixing them would save you some future costs and grief. It also sounds like your plumber cousin either used defective equipment, incorrectly sized equipment, or used it wrong, causing it to break. (Acid? Don't you guys ever rinse your equipment off when you're done with it?)

    He should have told you that the line has some problems that really need to be corrected, but he tried to help you with a temporary fix anyway, and now he's broke his equipment off down there. He should have offered to help you fix it over the weekend when you're both available. You pay for all materials, he eats his broken equipment, he helps with the labor and makes sure you get a good repair, and you furnish the barbeque and beer. It's either that, or you pay the whole thing yourself, and don't invite him to Thanksgiving dinner.


  40. #40
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Helping relatives out is great when everything goes well. When it goes bad it usually results in hard feelings.

    My advice is to fix the lateral. OP pays for excavation and his plumber cousin replaces the pipe for the lateral, correcting any problems.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Allen you should pay for "excavation, pipe breaking and repair, and subsequent back-filling/driveway repair", why,a biennial pipe clearing is not normal nor customary. By asking the contractor to even split the cost:
    A. Would allow you to get the original problem fixed at 1/2 price which would be a case of unjust enrichment.
    B. Would cause bad blood in the family - are you going to sue him ?

    I would say suck it up get it repaired correctly once and for all and return the remnants of the snake to the contractor. Had this not been a recurrent problem the contractor may be exposed to greater liability.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Phil brody View Post
    Allen you should pay for "excavation, pipe breaking and repair, and subsequent back-filling/driveway repair", why,a biennial pipe clearing is not normal nor customary. By asking the contractor to even split the cost:
    A. Would allow you to get the original problem fixed at 1/2 price which would be a case of unjust enrichment.
    B. Would cause bad blood in the family - are you going to sue him ?

    I would say suck it up get it repaired correctly once and for all and return the remnants of the snake to the contractor. Had this not been a recurrent problem the contractor may be exposed to greater liability.

    Phil,

    Fixing the original problem was the every-other-year clearing. I did not need to dig, break, replace, backfill for that. All those steps were to retrieve the tangled snake in the reducer. All this is completed AND no mention of whose liability was discussed at the time I was told the snake broke.

    He would have to sue me as I am holding the bill deciding what I will send.

    Allen


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Fixing the original problem was the every-other-year clearing
    That's the problem Allen. That is only a stop-gap measure as roots in the line indicate a breach or failure. This action was inevitable, as roots never slow down, and they never surrender.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Linoski View Post
    Fixing the original problem was the every-other-year clearing. I did not need to dig, break, replace, backfill for that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dom D'Agostino View Post
    That's the problem Allen. That is only a stop-gap measure as roots in the line indicate a breach or failure. This action was inevitable, as roots never slow down, and they never surrender.
    Allen,

    If the underground sewer pipe is of a material such as PVC or similar with glued joints, roots would not be a problem - unless the pipe cracked.

    If the underground sewer pipe is of a material such as clay tile, Orangeburg pipe, or similar discontinuous piping methods where the joints are not sealed together but are unsealed, then tree roots will, and do, get into the sewer pipe for the nutrients which are in the sewer.

    As the tree roots grow into the pipe between the joints, the pipe section move slightly to accommodate the increasing thickness of the tree roots.

    The need to have to cut out the tree roots on a frequent basis is an indication that the sewer line is no longer performing its intended function of keeping the sewer water in the pipe all the way to the sewer connection - if the roots can grow into the pipe, the sewage water can flow out of the pipe.

    If is one thing to have to clean tree roots out once (which is an indication of future problems), it is another thing to have to do it bi-annually - that is an indication that the sewer line has failed and that having the roots cut out every so often is telling you that the inevitable is coming - replacement of the sewer line.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    As Jerry & Don state, the issue with the roots was only going to get worse till a proper repair was necessary. True you could probably pay half and he would be dis grunted and probably NOT sue you, but instead maybe bad mouth you. Is that the person you want to be and create family tension ? Remember, assuming the repair was done properly, you will no longer have to contend with the bi annual service or expense - who reaps the benefit from that ?


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dom D'Agostino View Post
    That's the problem Allen. That is only a stop-gap measure as roots in the line indicate a breach or failure. This action was inevitable, as roots never slow down, and they never surrender.
    The root intrusion is 40' away from where he trapped his snake in the reducer. The repair to retrieve the snake didn't repair the root problem. Biennial root cutting has worked for 25 years.

    It would only follow as you say IF: I do a very expensive "on city property" repair (I am responsible to the main which is in the middle of the street) so that my plumber doesn't catch his snake in a reducer (which most posts here say shouldn't happen).


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Linoski View Post
    "on city property"
    Allen,

    Here is a suggestion, I don't recall having seen it in the other posts but it may have been suggested already: have ANOTHER plumber use a snake camera and view the entire length of sewer pipe.

    This will give you a LOT of good information:
    - let you find out what type of sewer pipe you have
    - if there is a belly or dip in the sewer line
    - see where the roots are a problem and where they are not
    - by tracking the length of the camera snake going in, the plumber can tell you with pretty good precision where any questionable area in the sewer pipe is
    - and probably other useful information about your sewer line too

    For the work involved which you are asking about, the scoping out of the sewer line with a camera snake is a mere pittance. Quite possibly one of the better investments you may make.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Cantrell View Post
    Reminds me of a joke
    A Doctor calls a plumber to unclog the toilet. Plumber comes out and 10 minutes later hands the Doctor a bill for $150. The Doctor takes the bill, looks at the plumber and says to him, "Isn't that kinda high for 10 minutes work. I don't even charge that much." The plumber looks at the Doctor and says, "When I was a Doctor I didn't either."
    LOVE IT!!!!!


  49. #49
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Well I see your point and discontentment, that you will still be stuck doing bi annually service. After 25 years those tree roots must have enlarged the opening and must be pretty substantial. Trying to cut through roots tooo substantial can damage the cable leading to the cutter head.What happens 2 years from now when another contractor experiences the same thing by trying to bore through the obstruction ? Whose tree is it ? I would become a pita to the sewer district and figure a way to have them fix the core problem. Most municipalities own what is in the right of way. A supervisor can always view it as a district responsibility. Don't see the sense of a camera. You know what the problem is. Still think the contractor is entitled to full payment because bi-annual service is not the norm and he was probably up against something that he could not have anticipated and will likely have the same result with another contractor.


  50. #50
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Williams View Post
    Helping relatives out is great when everything goes well. When it goes bad it usually results in hard feelings.

    My advice is to fix the lateral. OP pays for excavation and his plumber cousin replaces the pipe for the lateral, correcting any problems.
    This is the best answer so far. As there was already a stated issue in the pipe that the plumber was aware of prior to entering, I don't know how he can claim the full cost. Was his equipment in good repair? Did he proceed causally or did he probe that pipe with exuberance? NO one knows. Personally, I don't see how he can justify charging you anything to repair his equipment as that is the cost of business. Sometimes things break. It's like saying that someone is using a scissor lift at your home, it breaks, and you are asked to pay for repairs.

    I would get the driveway repaired. While doing that, if there is a reduction in the middle, I would move it to the side of the driveway if possible. For some reason plumbers like to make joints under sidewalks, driveways, etc. I have see sidewalks broken up to get at leaky joint that could have easily been made on either side of the walk during construction, for maintenance access if needed.

    As for the $$ bill from a relative---that is the REAL question here. If you were paying a contractor to do the job I don't think they would bill you for the repair of their equipment. However, it is your responsibility for repairing the pipe. The best suggestion is to invite him over, shrimp on the barby with the usual accrument--beer, take the driveway apart, fix the pipe, and work out a settlement for the repair of his equipment taking into the cost that you would have paid to have someone come out to do the work



  51. #51
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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    Repair of the equipment is on the contractor - period, it is the cost of doing business.


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    Default Re: Plumbing Incident - Who Pays?

    I see hundreds of people saying PVC pipe never gets roots unless broke and clay pipes and such always get tree roots. Both of the statements are false.

    I can show you sewer with 80+ year old clay tile ran through a property full of trees, and there is not a single root in the line. I can also show you a less than a year old PVC sewer line with only a few nearby trees totally full of roots.

    With clay pipe back when they were joined with oakum and cement, and were properly aligned, they rarely have root intrusions. Then in the mid 70's they came out with slip-seal pipe which used a tar gasket to seal the joints, these failed regularly with root intrusions.

    PVC pipe has one advantage over clay pipe. Less connected joints. Depending on the material the joints would be every 10, 13, or 20 feet apart. Clay comes in three size 2, 4, and 6 foot lengths. The roots will find their way into glued joints as well as push gasket. PVC just has fewer joints and less likely to get roots. The reason the older clay joints didn't get roots, is lime. The oakum is packed with lime, also the cement had added lime, and the pipes were properly aligned with crushed limestone under, on the sides and above the pipe. The lime changes the PH of the soil around the pipe which makes the roots avoid it.

    I do have PVC lines I installed that are root free due to the fact I used grade * gravel ( crushed limestone with fine crushed limestone mixed) as my bedding for the pipe and all around the pipe. In towns that wanted grade 6 gravel (river wash stone with sand) these lines always get roots growing into the few joints that are in the line.


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