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Question DetailsAsked on 7/5/2013

For a clogged drain under a slab house what would the average cost of repair be?

Three plumbers have determined the drain from kitchen/laundry room is clogged approx. 6 feet from where pipe enters floor. Plumbers snaked drain and came back with mud-probably broken tile from tree roots. We were told the floor would need to be dug up to get to pipes under slab. What would the time and cost be on a job like this?

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It sounds pretty clear you have one specific point problem - did they run a camera to see if there are more bad joints, not just this one. If this is a clay tile drain it is probably REALLY old - like pre-1970's, so might have multiple bad spots or root infiltration at multiple joints, making replacement a better choice than repair.

The reason I am asking, is it might make more sense to just put through a totally new sewer pipe of modern materials if you are going to be digging up at least a portion of the slab anyway. Of course, depends partly on how far the point where the sewer pipe goes underground is from your outside cleanout, if there are underslab branches, and of course what your soil material is (i.e. can it be readily drilled horizontally, or is it rocky or hardpan). Might be something to ask about for comparison. Of course, replacement would likely cost maybe twice as much or more, depending on ease of putting in the pipe and how many slab cuts are necessary to make connections, but you would then have long-term peace of mind with respect to that issue, particularly if tree roots caused the problem initially, because that will keep coming back unless you clearcut all trees within about 25-40 feet, and further for mature invasive root trees like willows, cottonwoods, alder, etc which I have seen penetrate piping and manholes 100 feet away.

Just to cut or jackhammer through the concrete, open up probably a 3-4 foot by 2-3 foot opening, and repair the pipe is likely to be a 3-6 hour job for a 2 man crew, so about $600-1200.

Repair concrete slab (probably needs a separate contractor, not plumber, as they don't like concrete work, and are pretty pricey for that type of work) probably about $300-500, as that size opening should be reinforced again to prevent progressive slab cracking from the opening point, so about 1-2 manhours drilling and putting in reinforcing, 2-3 manhours to place and compact fill to subgrade level, then mix and pour concrete mix and finish it. The concrete repair is something you could research a bit on replacing reinforcing and do yourself, if desired.

Bear in mind that from the time they start cutting into the slab till the pipe is repaired you will not be able to run any water or use any toilets in the house, so make alternative living arrangements for that timeframe. Also, the current problem (if using it now) could collapse any time, so you could potentially be into a no-sewer situation from anytime from here on till the pipe repair is done.

Be prepared in advance to do some pretty serious ventilation so the entire house does not get saturated with sewer smell - if the plumber does not have one, I would suggest you rent a high-volume low-pressure exhaust fan unit (probably about $25-35/day) to maintain a negative pressure on that area during the work time, and visqueen and tape off the rest of the house.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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