Why does house not work
September 3, 2019 1:24 PM   Subscribe

A plumber cleaned our flooding sewer drain, look in it with a camera, and said it needs to be descaled soon or else the backups would keep happening. The cost would be $1600. Does that sound right/reasonable? Our house was built around 1930 in Illinois.
posted by michaelh to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
Yes, that sounds very reasonable compared to the cost of a sewer backing up into your home.

If you aren't sure, ask for a BID (not an estimate) from multiple companies and choose the company and the price you want.
posted by terrapin at 1:27 PM on September 3, 2019 [7 favorites]

Do get the work done. But your your sewer can back up for reasons unrelated to the scaling, due to clogs or flooding farther down the system. For this reason, any residential sewer connection should have a check valve (AKA backwater valve or backflow preventer).
posted by beagle at 2:09 PM on September 3, 2019 [5 favorites]

In my city, when you get a sewer scope (view with camera) you can get the sewer company to provide you with a video of the whole length of the sewer. Ask your plumber to share the video with you. If they don't have it anymore, get another scope from another provider. $1600 sounds good and is worth it.
posted by matildaben at 2:29 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Definitely get estimates from other vendors. The video inspection and estimate is usually free. Do get them to consider other possible causes. I paid a lot of money to dig up and level a sewage pipe only to find that wasn't the problem. They would have found the problem if they had explored the piping from inside the house as I originally asked them to. At the time they said it was "impossible" that the problem could originate from there. Also, you should feel free to haggle. I figured out there was a lot of leeway in pricing after the guy kept pretending to call his manager to negotiate a better price on my behalf. This was Roto Rooter whom I had always considered a reputable company on the up and up.
posted by xammerboy at 10:44 PM on September 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone. We looked into competing costs and legitimacy of this and ended up going for it. We were told that the scaling in some areas was almost too much for the descaling brushes, and we would have had to replace the pipe a few years from now. We can’t prove a negative but hopefully the lack of sewage backup over the next few decades will bear out the need to have done the work. And we got some cool before and after videos, too.
posted by michaelh at 10:41 AM on September 7, 2019

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