cost for main sewer line fix?
December 5, 2011 7:27 AM   Subscribe

[main sewer line]: looks like we may have a block. how much should it cost to fix?

estimate to pull toilet up and go through there was close to $700. my basic internet research says that is pretty high but i don't know anything about this. we ran the laundry last night and the downstairs shower and toilet overflowed. running sink water causes it it to plug, slowly, too. upstairs plumbing still working ok. can they just snake the shower? is $700 a lot? thanks!
posted by anya32 to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
Where are you located and who did you call for an estimate? Because my local drain guys unblocked our place for ~ $300, and that was for two visits including a video scope to see where the block was. This was for a shared line, with a T intersection between the shared line and the main line, and the block was right at the T. It took them several hours to get the thing cleared.

If it's the toilet or shower that is the only issue (really, it can't be, because doing laundry is causing a backup) then any reputable drain service would just use a small snake with a drop head down the toilet or shower drain itself. There is no need to remove the toilet to do that.

There shouldn't be any reason to remove the toilet if you have sewer drain access elsewhere, like in a basement. The ONLY reason I can think why you'd need to pull the toilet to access the drain would be that you have no basement, you're on a slab foundation, and there IS no accessible drain - but that makes no sense to me, there should be one somewhere (crawl space? Garage? Utility closet, by the water heater?). Your house should have access. I think it isn't up to code not to have a removable sewer drain plug somewhere down there.

Whoever gave you the estimate sounds like they are trying to take you for a ride. Don't call Roto-Rooter or any other big chain. Find someone small and local. If it was a local service that gave you the $700 estimate, call someone else for a second opinion.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:46 AM on December 5, 2011

ironically it just "unclogged" faster than expected/with less work so he is going to charge me a lot less. i also challenged the price a bit. thanks for your advice. not understanding how things work certainly leads to being more vulnerable. thanks!
posted by anya32 at 8:21 AM on December 5, 2011

Just for future comparison, there's a guy here in So Cal, good reputation, advertises widely, that has charges a flat $99 for a stoppage, including a main line. Here are his exclusions, which all seem pretty reasonable to me:
This is a "per stoppage" rate.
There is no "House Call" fee on stoppages.
This applies only to residential stoppages.
Applies to all appointments run during normal business hours 7 AM - 7 PM, 7 Days a week (Yes we can clear that Sunday or Saturday stoppage so you don't have to miss work)
Excludes major holidays
Stoppage must be fixable by cabling method. Rate does not include jetting and other advanced methods.
Chemical Drain Cleaner in drain line does not apply*
Stoppage must be reasonably accessible. We cannot place our plumbers in hazardous positions.
We do not go through roof vents. This is a very effective way to cause roof leaks but an ineffective way of clearing stoppages.
posted by DandyRandy at 9:16 AM on December 5, 2011

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