5 Ways to Avoid a Sewer- or Drain-Cleaning Scam

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W. Ryan

Subject: Liners, Trenchless Technology & Drain Scams

There many good points here as far as scammers go in this article sad but true.When it comes to liners & trenchless technology John is off. John Musella needs to do more research on liners or maybe we won't because he is just an old school plumber not willing to move with the cheese. About liners in NYC he is 100% right the DEP will not approve and there were scammers installing them in the city at one time, they were busted. Sadly they are still out there under new names with a new scam. However it is approved in NYS. We install them and have saved customers headaches of unnecessary digging and in the end it saves them $$$. I would recommend looking at some of the bigger company's that pay there tech's nothing but straight commission or offer 49.00 dollars to clear any drain. Warning lookout for the up sell. That's my two cents. Small sewer & drain owner A+ Rated with the BBB. :-)

CDM cesspool

Subject: Video inspection frau

Wow, I cannot believe what I am reading !
My technitions were taught to have the customer be present at time of video inspection ! And for any reason they cannot be present, We always video something recognizable to the client before we insert camera into pipeline to perform the video inspection as well as our equipment records in real time and audio and a foot counter to give approximate issue if any at all. We also provide customer with sd card from video inspection.

Juan Diaz (TrenchFree CEO)

Subject: 5 Ways To Avoid a Sewer or Drain Cleaning Scam

It is a tough world in the plumbing business, but it is even tougher for the consumer, as we read through the article and others comments. If we as professionals can't come to a uniform thinking, you can imagine how difficult it is for a single home owner to make a decision...

Like everything there is pros and cons for every method, the problem is not the method, The Problem is THE PLUMBER, if we don't practice or educate ourselves on every method, how can we be certain that the solution we're offering is the best for the customer, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the methods.

Open Trench
Pipe Bursting
Pipe Lining
Directional Drilling
Pneumatic Bore

I personally recommend all of them based on project.
Always ask for 3 estimates.
Have each estimator run a video camera (it should be a free service), this way they will give you an estimate based on what they see and not what you or other people saw.
Don't pull the permit yourself "Always have the contractor pull a permit" (this way the city inspector will double check the work) and it will also take away insurance liability from the home owner.
Check reviews and ask for referrals.

Thank you for reading.

John Rodriguez

Subject: Liners & Trenchless Technology

Lots of bad things are being said on this article about liners. I find that many old time plumbers are not educated on liners and have no clue on what they are saying. Will also say something doesn't work well simply because they don't like the technology and not because it doesn't work.

Sewers that go under drive ways and under public roads can be very deep 25ft deep. An excavation of this magnitude, digging up a public street, having traffic control and to top it off the home owner would need to hire another contractor to redo the concrete driver way. This scenario can cost 20-50 thousand dollars or more depending on depth and safety tools required to complete the job.

Lining/Trenchless technology would run around 6k for the same work why because ther is not need for excavation and the job can be completed in hours vs weeks. Lining is 3mm or 4.5mm if you want to get technical. This does reduce the pipe diameter but we are talking millimeters here. You will never notice a clog or a malfunction in your drain system due to a mm. To say the least the plumbing system was designed oversized from day one.

With the above said lining Trenchless is the future and is here to stay. Works very well and saves home owners thousands. Whoever wrote this article needs to do some research and provide readers with more educated advice. The best tool for a home owner is always get 3 estimates this will eliminate the bad apples. There is nothing wrong with lining and is backed by a 50 year warranty in most cases. Do your research before writing an article like this.


Subject: Comments about liners

The other comments here are written by other plumbing companies and are liers the new liners make the pipe much smaller so a 4 inch becomes 3 inches and the price is higher then if you did it up and replaced it also roots go right through it and it is banned in most city's my calif Nevada it does not last and the company will not give you a guarantee more than 1 year the best is replace with cast iron or abs will last 25 years but want to avoid all this clean main sewer line 1 time a year and never suffer

Terry wright

Subject: sewer liners

Anyone who would listen to this article is as ignorant as the person who wrote it. Do your research and always get 3 estimates and opinions before you spend money it's common knowledge. Also when it comes to pipe bursting or lining sewers it's newer technology but he there is a reason why it's set in place. It may cost the same as getting new pipe. But the savings in put back is were it benefits you meaning tearing up driveway or in house for stabbed homes. But that is where the professional and Homeowners wave option which is more cost affective for the future product. Thanks for listening and good luck.


Subject: Sewer Linings

Sewer Linings are a great option. The cost is reasonable compared to dig up under a driveway, road and under a concrete slab. Most manufacturer's offer a 50 yr warranty on the liner itself. I have never seen a liner fail over time. Also, the decrease in size is minimal at best. The drainage fixture unit count in the house is never enough to exceed the size. Linings are the future and excavations will soon be extinct!

James Leasure

Subject: Liners and Damage

I am not entirely on board with what this article says.
In areas where there are small front yards that sit up on retaining walls and the sewer is 16 feet in the ground, I would say pipe relining is a great alternative to excavation. Where public side walks and excavating in the public road are very expensive and cause great inconvenience to the general public, as well as safety issues, relining the pipe is cost effective and much less a hazard and public nuisance. (My Company, does not utilize this technology. I just want to state my case here, due to the number of customers I recommend to have this procedure done. Not stating this causes home and business owners to lean toward the idea pipe relining is useless.)

Damage control is an issue. As a sewer and drain cleaning company, I run into situations, quite often that require a company such as Serve Pro to precede me on the job. Sometimes, the basements are so full of sewage, I can not safely enter the basement and operate until the sewage is extracted and the basement is generally cleaned. I'd love to post some pictures of this. Just look on line. The problem does exist.

Many times, buildings, such as apartment buildings have basement space where he tenants have the opportunity to store belongings they do not have room or use for in their apartment. This situation is often controlled by a locked door. Where would the sewage begin to occupy the building? In the basement. If the door is always locked and the only person having a key is the manager, then the basement has plenty of opportunity to back up unchecked. I pulled up to an apartment building in Fall River, Massachusetts. When I exited my van, there was the familiar odor of an out house hanging in the air.

People who write these articles should be considerate of the consumer and the professional service provider. Don't do an injustice to these people by being so narrow minded in your advice. See all of the possibilities. Then write a well informed article.

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.