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Question DetailsAsked on 2/4/2018

Paid a Angie contractor $345 to clear my sewer line, job was never done properly. 9 days later it was clogged again

Called back, they were going to send the same guy out and it would be up to him if I got
charged another$345. He said he cleared the line when he was here the first timr. They would not say we would not be charged again. Decided to call another contractor since first one did not do the job. Second company found a large blockage and pulled out alot of tree roots.Called first contractor and requested my money back,they refused and said they didn't get a chance to make it right, and they do not give refunds. Talked about a $120 credit but since we will not be using them in the future this credit is useless.

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1 Answer


That is on the high side for a sewer line cleaning by $50-100 assuming your line is not over about 100 feet long and did not require a re-entry at a mid-run cleanout, or did not require entry by removing a toilet (in any of which cases the price sounds normal to me), though not totally out of the ballpark regardless, and might be normal if in a high-cost urban area or you are out in the boonies so he had a long drive to get there.

Sounds like he either did not run the entire length of the line, or maybe used a snaking tool or jetter rather than a "scraper' head on a router, so if he made it to the root clog at all it may have just punched a small hole in it, not removed it all. Commonly, just clearing a clog in the underground portion of the pipe (low slope portion, as opposed to in-house vertical stack and branches) can break up a clog, but if not chased to the tank/street can just reclog at another restriction further down the line and cause another blockage in a few hours to days. Which since it took 9 days to reclog, sounds to me like what likely happened here.

My recommendation is always, if the guy is using a jetting outfit rather than a full diameter mechanical router with full-diameter scraper head, to require that it have an on-board camera so you can see, as it is pulled back out, any remaining debris or buildup or roots or such and rework them at that time to remove them, because many jetting tools tend to just ride on the bottom of the pipe and not clear full diameter, can have skips in coverage, and the operator cannot "feel" whether you have cleared all the roots with them - too easy to just push on through without fully clearing blockages or soap scum/fiber/grease buildups in the lines.

Full-diameter cleaning should normally be done every 10-20 years anyway (on shorter end if a lot of food garbage goes through disposal or grease is dumped down the drain, longer end if not and there is a goodly flow of hot water down drain from frequent washer loads or hot showers. (Tub use does not count because water is not "hot" when discharged, and dishwasher generally does not count much because volume of flow is too low to really wash the pipe insides much).

If you have a full-priced Angies List membership, contact Member Services about whether you are covered by the Angies List guarantee - though that might well only be for vendors you get as part of a Deal or Coupon.

Since you did not give them a chance to redo the job and got another contractor in to do it, you did lose the opportunity to have them make it right - though them not giving you a recleaning for free was cheap on their part unless they could prove a broken pipe or sag in the line as the cause. And of course, check invoice - if they warrantied the job (some do so for say 30 days) then your claim is strengthened a lot. A residual root mass certainly should have been caught, IF you had him clean it clear to the septic tank or street. But he may have just cleaned till the backup drained away as he broke up the first clog he came to, and it just movedon downstream and caught up at the next root mass.

Assuming the second contractor documented the root mass (or you took pictures of what he was pulling out), you might, remotely possibly, be able to succeed with a claim for the lesser of the first charge or the second contractor's bill, from the first contractor's bonding company. But not giving them the chance to make good on the job themselves reduces that possibility - but you do have the good excuse that it was an "emergency" needing immmediate remedy so you could not wait for a claim to be processed.

I would send a letter with a copy of the second contractor's bill including his statement about the clog and any photos, via certified mail, return receipt and signature required, to the first contractor - signed with your name, address, current date etc. And of course keep copy and mailing and mailing receipts nd return receipt card. In it I would state that they cleaned your sewer on X date, and it reclogged on Y date and they refused to redo the job for free, that you feel they failed to perform the work right the first time and because they would not redo it at no additional charge, you got another contractor to perform the work correctly, and that you are demanding a refund of Z amount. [That Z amount being the lesser of the original $345 or what the second contractor charged]. And state that unless you receive the refund within 7 days, you will be filing a claim with their bonding company and a complaint with the applicable state and local licensing agencies. [I assume they were bonded ? Or that local/state law requires they be bonded - in which case if they were not you could file a complaint against their contractor/business license]

That is likely to shake loose a refund, especially considering the small amount involved - especially if they are required to have a contractor's license for sewer cleaning (some states/localities yes, others not).

And of course, after all is said and done, sounds like an honest Review on sites like Angies List and Yelp might be in order.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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