Tree roots, a stuck machine and $$
November 20, 2016 8:14 AM   Subscribe

So my sewer has tree roots again. I've had my handyman clear them before but this time I had ****** Sewer Service do it. It was supposed to be a $250 job. Their machine is stuck 50 feet down the pipe.

They have been trying to get it unstuck for hours, like 4 hours so far. He gave up last night after calling another guy in to run a camera down to see what, exactly, it was stuck on (big ball of tree roots). He is back again this morning saying It's usually $97 an hour after the first 2 hours but "we'll work it out". I understand it's a bigger than normal job but most of it has been trying to extricate their device from a big knot of tree roots, shouldn't a company that specializes in this know how to accomplish it without getting the equipment stuck? I'm also worried about my old, 1920's era, clay sewer pipe as they jerk on the tree roots. This is a big, well reviewed company that has been around for awhile. There is a sign on their truck that says "NO extra charges". Any thoughts either on solving the stuck rooter machine or a well reasoned argument when it comes barter down the charges time? I don't want to be unreasonable but, ticktock (at $97 an hour).
posted by BoscosMom to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
I would be treating his machine being stuck the same as if it had broken down. It's not solving your problem and I wouldn't agree to pay for time when he wasn't solving my problem. I would also be very clear to him about your concern that he might be damaging you pipe as he tries to get his machine unstuck. The company should have insurance coverage for when damages happen during a job so this might be a situation it gets used. Make sure that the main office knows about the issues and your concerns because sometimes the guys in the field don't give the all the info they need to correctly assess the problem.
posted by victoriab at 8:30 AM on November 20, 2016 [8 favorites]

I would guess that you will be charged extra--Simply,if somewhat ruthlesslyput, it is your ball of roots, and clay pipe that are almost 100 years old. If they guaranteed a satisfactory outcome for $250 that is one thing--if it was an estimate based on unknowns then it would seem to me they have a business interest in recouping their costs. While a root ball might be anticipated it could not be known--also--extra diagnostics may be warranted to avoid more costly errors or disruptions. I hope they offer a reasonable discount on good faith but it is their time, equipment and your problems.
posted by rmhsinc at 8:30 AM on November 20, 2016

When I had this done a few years ago (covered by insurance), the insurance company sent round three companies to quote for the job. Every one of them ran a camera along the pipe first to see the extent of the roots. If your guy didn't do that, then I'd say it's on him now that there's a problem.
posted by essexjan at 10:08 AM on November 20, 2016 [4 favorites]

So I would argue that you're not on the hook for any time they spend getting their machine unstuck. It is their lack of preparation that got their machine stuck in the first place, and their problem to extricate.

You want to calculate time from start to machine stuck, and then time from machine unstuck to finish. If they damage the pipes in getting the machine unstuck, then I would say they're on the hook for that damage as well.
posted by corb at 11:09 AM on November 20, 2016 [2 favorites]

I hope you have enough money to replace that clay pipe. It's already perforated and the sewage is going into the ground and things you never expected will come up your toilets. Been through this. Sorry.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 11:41 AM on November 20, 2016 [1 favorite]

The clay pipe needs replaced. No way around that.
posted by patnok at 1:28 PM on November 21, 2016

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