The dreaded clogged toilet call

12 Replies

Today first time in three yrs, I got it. The dreaded call "toilet and shower is clogged and wont drain".

So this house is less then 5 min from me. I went over there and after about a hour or so of snaking(there is no clean out, so I pulled the toilet) no success. I had to call a plumber "after hrs", if I would of called them first I would've saved 120 bucks.

My lesson here. Just call some one, it would've saved me 120 bucks and over a hr of my time.

Plumber is still not done and I'm crossing my fingers I wont need to replace the main line!

Hope it's not too expensive of a fix for you.  Something to consider while the plumber is already out there is have him install a cleanout, which might save you some time/money in the future. 

If there is ANY possible way it is caused by tree roots, have him put the power rooter on it with the knife sections that scrape the walls.  when it cuts thru the roots your problems are gone for a few years till the roots grow back.  IF he jams a snake thru it and gets it to drain today you might be right back at it next week.

Copper sulfate can keep the roots at bay.  A blue crystal you dissolve  and let it set as long as you can.  Like couple days if tenants are going out of town etc.

I'm glad you went over and tried.  I've been successful when toilet only or tub only (just a trap clog) but when both even I call my best rooter guy.

I go with a rooter specialist vs a plumber on these personally.  I know what you're going through though.

Well the plumber wasnt able to get the clog fixed. I need a clean out installed, and I guess they wont do it at night. I'm just hoping that they will install one tomorrow.

This will leave my tenant with no plumbing for over 24hr more then likely. What do should I do for the tenant?

Man I used to run over every time and fix these issues. I was usually successful, but at a cost of my time which is becoming more and more valuable. When I wasn't successful, I went through exactly what you are going through now having to call someone anyway and knowing that it would have been done faster and cheaper than my dumb wrangling of augers. As far as what to do for the tenant, I would offer him/her a couple of days rent refunded if it isn't fixed by the end of the day. It's a nice gesture and you have to put yourself in their shoes. That being said, if they flushed something stupid down the toilet/drain, they get a bill instead. I agree with @Steve Vaughan that you should get a rooter specialist on the job. I pretty much call the plumber or rooterman for everything that comes along. Even the smallest leaks/clogs can suck away your whole day.

@Greg Jeanfreau

I think this will be the last time I try to fix something my self, not worth it. Also the problem was a sanitary wipe tenants fault. With that said though, the kid has taken very good care of the house. It looks just as good as when I left it,over a yr ago. I think I'm going to cover the bill this time.

Originally posted by @Bryan Richardson :

@Greg Jeanfreau

I think this will be the last time I try to fix something my self, not worth it. Also the problem was a sanitary wipe tenants fault. With that said though, the kid has taken very good care of the house. It looks just as good as when I left it,over a yr ago. I think I'm going to cover the bill this time.

 I second that. I started investing in real estate with my mother in law, she with a load of cash, and us with high paid W2 jobs. We had little time to run around and do plumbing fixes. Started off with several older triplexes, and we'll get calls on clogs, toilets not flushing, changing faucet washers etc.

My mom law was from the old school, couldn't understand why we pay a plumber at the time to change a washer for $85.00. She couldn't understand that we had jobs paying $100K,  not 9-5 jobs.

Anyway she tells us about a friend of hers, invested with their sons, and they do every small repair, that the mom boasted they never call everyone. Suggested we do the same.

Then some 20 years later, we were talking about small repairs with my mom in law, and she bought up the subject of her friend and her 2 sons, forgetting she mentioned them to us once before a long time ago. This time, she mentioned her friend finally had to sell the properties after holding it for 6 to 8 years because small repairs was such a pain. People are constantly calling. As they invested in the same areas we invested in, I said they should have done OK, and they should have made at least $250K for each triplex as properties in NY went up that much over 6-8 years. So she pointed out that if they had it for over 20 years like we did, each would have gone up $600K, so we're way ahead of her friend.

In the final analysis, we're almost $1MM ahead at that point capital gain wise on the first two triplexes we got, compared to her friend, and we bought even more after that. But we were only able to manage doing so paying for small repairs which in my estimate ran at the time $3,000/year, which we could have done ourselves. It might have cost us $50K or so over 20 years, but in the end, to be $1MM ahead on just two properties is a very good return paying plumbers $85 to change washers, to clearing clog toilets.

Give that good tenant a good supply of Copper Sulfate AND a stern lecture on what goes and no goes in the toidy.  He can flush 1/2 a cup full of CS once a month as he is leaving for the day.  Tree roots can come from 100 feet or more seeking moisture.  That's what everything gets hung up on.

And yes, if you get another clog there a camera look is in order.

So I got a quote for a large company today for just a clean out 2300 bucks, Holy cow, is that what company's charge. I wasnt paying that. I called about everyone I know that's in the construction field. After about 10 calls I'm getting it done for 700. Still kinda think it's high, but it's getting done same day.

The problem with charging tenants is they're going to get creative on their own to avoid calling you. I don't want them dumping Draino in my pipes! I also think a lot of toilet problems are crappy early generation low flow units. I have 14 Cadet 3 toilets with 3" valves, and have never had one clog in the many years since I've started installing them.

Originally posted by @Bryan Richardson :

So I got a quote for a large company today for just a clean out 2300 bucks, Holy cow, is that what company's charge. I wasnt paying that. I called about everyone I know that's in the construction field. After about 10 calls I'm getting it done for 700. Still kinda think it's high, but it's getting done same day.

Wow, the $2300 price seems crazy high.  I'm sure every situation is different, but the last time I had to have a plumber come out and clear a clog on a house that didn't have a cleanout, I had the guy add one while he was already out there so it'd be easier next time and I only paid $400 to clear the clog AND add the cleanout. 

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