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Is This a Good Price for Replacement Underground Waste Piping?

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Evan!

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The night before last, I was doing a load of laundry, and when it discharged the wastewater, it started coming up through the floor drain in the laundry room. Then...the water wasn't really draining at all. I tried snaking the floor drain with my 25 ft pipe snake, no dice. I opened up the cleanout on the main waste stack, and the liquid line was standing at about slab level...so I tried snaking that too. Still nothing. So I called roto-rooter and they came out yesterday. He brought out his motorized 150 foot auger and after a little while, he finally got the clog undone...but he said it felt rough all along it. So, he got out the pipe cam and we had a look. The first 10 feet were fine...cast iron. Then, abruptly, it changed to this stuff that he called "orangeburg" or something like that, which is apparently rolled and cured tar paper. It was supposed to last a long time, but they discovered that after awhile, the hot water running along the bottom of it makes it bubble up.

So we looked further, and it's all blistering up, very nasty, and very likely to clog up again. Then we got out the camera locator and walked around the yard trying to see where the line was...it goes straight out back to a manhole in my neighbor's yard. The roto-rooter guy said that it obviously needs to be replaced, and that they could do it for $4500. It doesn't involve trenching, though...what they do is dig a hole where my cast iron ends, then dig a hole just before the manhole, and push this heavy duty rubber piping through, with a big cone blade on the front which essentially displaces the old pipe as it goes along and pulls the new pipe through with a cable and hydraulics. He also said they'd refund half the cost of coming out yesterday ($250/2=$125), and while they were waiting for the line to go through, he would take care of another plumbing issue in my laundry room (the waste water from the washing machine backs up into the utility sink) for free.

SO, does anyone know anything about this new magic underground replacement stuff, and if so, is this a good price for the service? We're looking at about 100 feet from where the cast iron ends to the manhole.

Thanks!
 

GreenwoodRover

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So does the cone blade split the old tarpaper pipe, or does it push it out of the hole near the manhole?
$45/lf sounds a little high but i'm comparing it to directional boring for commercial (IE long runs).
 

NJTomatoguy

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That is the trenchless technology, they also fuse the pipe sections with heat. If you are concerned about your yard, or your neighbors property being dug up, that is an option, especially if it goes under expensive patios, or things like that.
If not concerned with digging in the yard, call a local plumber and get an estimate to replace.
 
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Evan!

Evan!

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That is the trenchless technology, they also fuse the pipe sections with heat. If you are concerned about your yard, or your neighbors property being dug up, that is an option, especially if it goes under expensive patios, or things like that.
If not concerned with digging in the yard, call a local plumber and get an estimate to replace.
Yeah, it goes under the patio, under a stone wall and fence, and under the neighbor's yard. Trenching is really not an option, so I'm glad they have this technology, but I just have no idea how competitive this price is.

So does the cone blade split the old tarpaper pipe, or does it push it out of the hole near the manhole?
It splits and displaces it outward, creating a space for the new piping to slip in after it. It doesn't push it forward.
 

NJTomatoguy

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I was with Roto-Rooter when that technology came out. Went to the training and everything. It is one long run on a roll, they only cut it if something ties into the line. That is a very good price. Consider the other option.. Plumber comes and does his thing, then you get to pay everyone else to fix what was done. Also depends how much of a PITA your neighbor is...

In summary, you are getting a new line with minimal damage to your property, your neighbors property, getting half the cost of the previous job back, and getting another issue fixed.(laundry line.) Sounds more than fair.
 

GreenwoodRover

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Is the technology proprietary? Can someone else do the same thing? If not then I would go with the rooter, it's worth it to not have to redo a patio, fence and sod...
 
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Evan!

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I'm gonna call "speedy-rooter" on monday and see if they can do the same thing, and if so, for how much.
 

menschmaschine

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Definitely good to at least get a second estimate (and ideally a third). The question for Roto-Rooter is, can the cost be quantified?

-How many man-hours (assume maybe $60.00/ hour for a foreman, ~$40.00 for a laborer)
-Material costs + 15% markup
-Equipment usage costs
-Other overhead (travel, vehicles, etc.)
-If the technology is proprietary, that's worth something

Obviously, they need to make some profit here, but I doubt all that adds up to $4500. Heck, you could build a brewhut for that. But I'm not a plumber... just a skeptic with construction estimating experience.
 

david_42

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It is always a good idea to get another estimate. The last roofing job I had done, the prices ran from $7,800 to $22,000. The latter included the shingles "at his cost".
 

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Yea everyone said it already but get the other bid. I am getting estimates for getting an aluminum wired house fixed and one guy quotes me 5700 and the guy I called today quotes me 2800. Big, big difference.
 

keelanfish

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Definately get another estimate. I've done pipe bursting and cured in place trenchless pipe replacement, but on much bigger civil engineering projects. Both are fine techniques, but unless you have a highly landscaped backyard or an extremely deeply buried pipe, it doesn't make much sense in such a short length. If it's just a typical three to five foot deep trench, It would be far cheaper to use a ditch witch and lay new glue-joint pvc pipe.

If there is a good reason to use trenchless, then the only other negative thing I have to say about it is that the alignment follows exactly the old pipes alignment. If the old alignment was good, then no problem. But if it had a vertical sag in an area, then the new pipe is also going to have a vertical sag that will collect grit and be a potential clogging problem.

Good luck!
 

Sea

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Definitely get at least one more bid, but that doesn't seem that high to me. One thing to keep in mid is that contracting work is not all of equal quality. You wouldn't want to have to redo this in ten years. Just because on guy is lower, doesn't mean he will do as good of a job. Ask for references. Especially if someone is substantially cheaper than the rest, ---I'd be pretty leery of that.
 

NJTomatoguy

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Definitely good to at least get a second estimate (and ideally a third). The question for Roto-Rooter is, can the cost be quantified?

-How many man-hours (assume maybe $60.00/ hour for a foreman, ~$40.00 for a laborer)
-Material costs + 15% markup
-Equipment usage costs
-Other overhead (travel, vehicles, etc.)
-If the technology is proprietary, that's worth something

Obviously, they need to make some profit here, but I doubt all that adds up to $4500. Heck, you could build a brewhut for that. But I'm not a plumber... just a skeptic with construction estimating experience.
Not even close-but please, no offense, just explaining what i dealt with for 2.5 yrs..

Roto rooter employees own their own trucks and get paid commission here in nj- so no foreman/helper. IN 2002, Labor rate was $175 hr, not $60. Parts would not be an issue since roto rooter gets paid by the job, corporate doesn't care if the guy takes a bath.
It got so bad at one point I stopped chargeing for parts. Wasn't worth explaining it. Markup was obscene! Also factor in that any small plumber in his right mind would not touch that job. I'm solving your problem, but i have to dig up your neighbors yard to do it. That's 2 properties, 2 sets of permits, 2 inspections, 2 certs. Ties into a manhole, now township/city/county is involved.
Roto rooter corporate has the legal backing to step up if your neighbor becomes a PITA.
 

GranillaNutz

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plumbers are usually the most expensive of all construction workers. i'm an electrician and we charge 125 an hr. overhead's a mofo, but in the end you really do get what u pay for, and bigger companies can give u a solid guarantee. sounds like you've gotta major pile of sh!t in your house and i wouldn't risk some fly by night contractor at 60 an hour. unless of course you know where the guy lives.
 

GranillaNutz

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on the other hand... when u hire a gigantic company like roto rooter, there's a good chance that they have some yahoo with no experience actually doing the work. but as i said before, they do hold a solid guarantee. i'm sure u could find a reputable company for a better price than roto rooter but i honestly think 60bux an hour is a bit far fetched... would u stick your arm into a pile of sh!t for 60 an hour if most of the money was goin to something else (overhead)? that's y i'm not a plumber.. i would rather get electrocuted than get anywhere near poo poo
 

NJTomatoguy

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So that rate includes all the other overhead I mentioned.

Isn't that about the going rate for attorneys?:D
Don't know about that, but I do know this...
Had a really obnoxious customer tell me that her husband doesn't do
"laborer" work, and when she got the bill,I charged more than her husband per hour, and he was a surgeon.

(insert smiley here.)
 

GranillaNutz

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Don't know about that, but I do know this...
Had a really obnoxious customer tell me that her husband doesn't do
"laborer" work, and when she got the bill,I charged more than her husband per hour, and he was a surgeon.
good call... it's good when we can stick the people who don't really do any work with the bill eh?
 

NJTomatoguy

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on the other hand... when u hire a gigantic company like roto rooter, there's a good chance that they have some yahoo with no experience actually doing the work. but as i said before, they do hold a solid guarantee. i'm sure u could find a reputable company for a better price than roto rooter but i honestly think 60bux an hour is a bit far fetched... would u stick your arm into a pile of sh!t for 60 an hour if most of the money was goin to something else (overhead)? that's y i'm not a plumber.. i would rather get electrocuted than get anywhere near poo poo[/QUOTE
Sissy:D

Just don't eat finger foods!


when u hire a gigantic company like roto rooter, there's a good chance that they have some yahoo with no experience actually doing the work. but as i said before, they do hold a solid guarantee.


NO-

No, actually roto rooter has a very intensive training process since they do offer a guarentee.
And since the guy that does the work gets chraged back by another tech if they have a callback, believe me, those guys are doing the best they can.. Especially on a job like Evan needs, you are getting the golden boy of the branch- Don't forget, That guy that shows up to your house BOUGHT the truck himself, BOUGHT the backhoe himself, BOUGHT all the tools to do the job.
At least here in NJ, subs were not allowed- so we had to do the jobs ourselves, which meant a major investment in tools and equipment.
Like I said before, it was rough. I was better off working under my uncles license, than working for them.
 

NJTomatoguy

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my dad stopped by my house after I had a particularly rough job.. a grease trap.
he made it up to the truck, slowed down. stood still and proceeded to puke all over my lawn. I BUST HIS B**** to this day!!He was an engineer at the electric co because he couldn't handle rth poo poo factor.
 

pen25

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Not even close-but please, no offense, just explaining what i dealt with for 2.5 yrs..

Roto rooter employees own their own trucks and get paid commission here in nj- so no foreman/helper. IN 2002, Labor rate was $175 hr, not $60. Parts would not be an issue since roto rooter gets paid by the job, corporate doesn't care if the guy takes a bath.
It got so bad at one point I stopped chargeing for parts. Wasn't worth explaining it. Markup was obscene! Also factor in that any small plumber in his right mind would not touch that job. I'm solving your problem, but i have to dig up your neighbors yard to do it. That's 2 properties, 2 sets of permits, 2 inspections, 2 certs. Ties into a manhole, now township/city/county is involved.
Roto rooter corporate has the legal backing to step up if your neighbor becomes a PITA.
if the man hole is in the neighbors yard wouldnt that be in the right of way which is covered under the terms of the right of way? i know bell when they were putting thier cables under ground they would come by and let you know what they were doing. they would bore when they had too but if someone complained they would have the city issue a removal permit and put the cost of removal of anything that would block the burial onto the owner of the property. have seen a pretty nice gazeebo that was just built be pulled down because the owner decided he would try to fight the crossing of "his" property. now if this isnt part of the right of way then running the line a different way to where it crosses the yard in the right of way
 

socalamcor

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I dont do the trenchless technology but have a couple companies i recomend for this type of work. 4k for a long run is a damn good price, ive seen a few companies i no longer recomend charge that amount for a five foot patch on a line. though like another person said if its not deep it may be cheaper to just dig it up. ive had a few people expose the piping all the way and then called in a plumber to actualy replace the section needed. you have quite a few options and second and third opinions are always best. just try to get pricing for the other options as well.
 
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Evan!

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Yeah, this guy they sent out was no n00b. He knew what he was doing, that much was obvious.

And I doubt they'd send some dingleberry who has no experience to do an installation that they guarantee for 10 years.

I don't know about the right of way, either...chances are, this line was put in before my neighbor's house was built, and his property was part of this one. I don't typically see ROW's in the middle of a property triangle like this. Either way, it's not quite as simple as just digging a trench. It's about 4 feet deep at our end...then there's a bunch of concrete patio, then an old mortar-set stone wall AND the new wood fence we put in, then there's the neighbor's big 2-story shed that it runs underneath. So trenching is not really a viable option.
 
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Evan!

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My old man is a plumber and I use to go to work with him all the time when I was in high school. You never real get that close to Poopoo at all.
Yeah, the worst the rotorooter guy had to deal with was having to handle the pipe snake line after he reeled it back in...but he had some nice blue sanitary gloves that he said he rarely takes off when he's on the job.
 

Skins_Brew

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Yea snaking a drain is pretty nasty. For whatever reason, my wifes hair falls out (shes not old, and she has plenty of hair, I guess its like shedding?) like crazy and clogs the drain. Its pretty gross when I snake it out. It looks like a red squirrel attached to a cable when I pull the clog out. Pretty gross. ughhhh, speaking of which, I need to snake that thing out soon.
 
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