Toilet not draining - been told all pipes need to be repaired??

8 Replies

Tenant property in Birmingham, AL (35204): Tenant reported "blocked toilet".  Plumber went today and explained pipes are blocked, and some corroded (expected with the age of the property), but unable to say where the block/corrosion is to quote properly until they "start to dig".  Been quoted $8-10K for work based on it not being the solution to the problem.  Looking to get 2nd & 3rd opinions, but not in living in the area, so hoping to get personal recommendations from other property owners.  Any help, suggestions are gratefully appreciated.

Did the plumber showed you where the clogged is ? There are cameras that can be utilized to see this before any major repairs are done , so if you get a second opinion make sure they have a camera . good luck .

Unfortunately they couldn't get the snake through - "hit a wall".  When asked if a camera could be used, was told they wouldn't "see anything" as the pipes are blocked and not able to be cleaned out.  Any suggestions to find another plumber for a quote other than using the white pages?

@Julia Lennon , that's a bad plumber.  The entire purpose of the camera is the see where the block is!!  If they've hit the wall then that's where the block issue.

My primary home had 'orange pipe' which was popular and cheap in the 60's/70's.  My city actually had an insurance plan for a few bucks per month that you could pay and they'd cover up to $5,000 of the repair.  Typical repairs were $4,500-5,500.  I would call your city just in case they have a similar program for corroded pipes.

@Julia Lennon shoot I’ll travel there and do it for $7k. Probably take them a day to replace this drain pipe and maybe they’ll have $100 into material and one helper @ $12h and one guy @$20h. That’s about $260 labor, and $100 = $360 expense for the business, let’s just say $500 and the company keeps $9,500 for doing nothing but sending their guys out if it’s $10k. Find a handyman or plumber to knock it out for like $1-3k and you’ll be good and they’ll be good. You just need 1 guy that operates his own business. I see these companies like Anderson plumbing etc rip people off bad, but they get the plumbing working.

@Julia Lennon

What @Theresa Harris said is correct. There is a sensor on the camera that pinpoints the location of the damage. Otherwise, are they just digging holes all over hoping to find the problem? Also especially because you're not there, most machines have the ability to insert an SD card to film what they find. Get that emailed to you. If it's roots or whatever, you'll see them. 

Get other opinions. Even if it costs for a service call. You need to be satisfied with the explanation before you spend that kind of money. 

crappy snake oil plumber. Keep calling plumbers on yelp and angies list until you find a plumber willing to use the least invasive method, with the right tools.

I had a plumbing issue just this past weekend, a tub clog, and one plumber was a snake oil plumber telling me "honestly, you'll probably have to dig under the concrete slab and cut out the p-trap, which means we'll have to totally demolish your bathroom, remove the tub, jackhammer the floor"

I was thinking WTF are you talking about?

A second plumber came out and got to snaking right away, and if that didn't work, maybe hydrojetting would help? I dunno. But he busted the clot.

he said the tub drain connects to the toilet drain, which connects to the main house drain out to the sewer. And each of these pipes has a bigger diameter than the one before it.

So if your toilet is clogged, does your tub back up as well?


@Julia Lennon

Third confirming recommendation: Julia, this plumber is lying to you, and Jonathan has given you clear numbers on this that I am confirming, this is NOT a $10K job. Ideally, the plumber would either feed the camera in through the toilet or take the toilet off the flange and feed the camera down into the drainage hole until it reached whatever blockage there was. There is no "wall" to hit inside the drainage piping, that's just a ridiculous lie. Again, as Jonathan said, this sounds like a company/service that's desperately trying to maximize its take on this job. The most likely scenario is that it's just a clog in either the stack or the line to the street. You should be able to find a handyman service to come in there with a rented heavy-duty snake to chew its way through the clog. The kind of snake I'm talking about costs $86/day to rent at Home Depot. This is the sort of craziness that you get if you don't have people you can trust on-site at your rental.

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