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Expensive to have drain unclogged.
Old 02-23-2019, 11:30 AM   #1
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Expensive to have drain unclogged.

Curious, what it cost for drain cleaning service. San Francisco, Bay area, Calif.
Washer drains into, basin, in garage. Roto Rooter, came out, removed "P" trap.
Snaked drain, about 1 hr. Cost $400. (2 years ago, $275 was cost).

Also, told, they no longer go on roof, to clear clogs.(ie. snake down air vent).
So, if necessary, they have to remove toilet, (+$275) to access drain pipes.

Is this just a S.F. Bay area, phenomenon, (very expensive place to live), or is this happening nation wide.
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Old 02-23-2019, 11:34 AM   #2
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It's expensive everywhere unless you are lucky enough to have a good handyman who works fairly cheaply.

But yes, in high cost areas, it will cost more. It costs more to eat and live there, so they need more to make ends meet.

We're pretty lucky in that shortly after moving last year, someone in our church hooked us up with a good handyman who has done a few projects for us already, and he's done good work for $20 an hour. He painted the whole interior of our 1,900 SF home for a total of $800. Recently, he replaced two toilets for us and hauled the old ones away for a total of $100 (including a few cheap parts).

Problem is, he's busy enough that it can be difficult for him to pencil us in sometimes.
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Old 02-23-2019, 12:30 PM   #3
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I paid $275 not to long ago to clean out the main drain inside the house out to the septic tank, that included removing the toilet. Definitely a lower cost of living area compared to SF.
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Old 02-23-2019, 12:34 PM   #4
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Ship your pipes to Arkansas or Missouri for better service rates.
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Old 02-23-2019, 12:35 PM   #5
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Last year we had all drains roto-rootered to the main street sewer. If I remember it was between $200-300.
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Old 02-23-2019, 12:38 PM   #6
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My last shower drain Roto Rooter was about $400, 18 month ago iirc. S. Fla.
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Old 02-23-2019, 12:39 PM   #7
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A few years ago, while DH was away on a two week trip, our sewer line clogged. After cleaning up the mess (the draining washing machine caused the lowest toilet in the house to overflow) and checking with DH, I called Roto-Rooter. They came, pulled out the lowest toilet to access the line, and cleared the clog. It cost about $300 and was worth it!
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Old 02-23-2019, 12:41 PM   #8
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My Dad (who owned a commercial HVAC company until 1990'ish) said he missed out on the great pay. When he wrapped up his company, the going rate was about $35 an hour. A few years ago, he had a service company out to work on his AC and the rate was $125 an hour. There is good money to be made in "the trades".
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Old 02-23-2019, 01:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolf View Post
Curious, what it cost for drain cleaning service. San Francisco, Bay area, Calif.
Washer drains into, basin, in garage. Roto Rooter, came out, removed "P" trap.
Snaked drain, about 1 hr. Cost $400. (2 years ago, $275 was cost).

Also, told, they no longer go on roof, to clear clogs.(ie. snake down air vent).
So, if necessary, they have to remove toilet, (+$275) to access drain pipes.

Is this just a S.F. Bay area, phenomenon, (very expensive place to live), or is this happening nation wide.
Last year my kitchen sink got completely clogged up. (EDIT: No, I was wrong; I checked and this was in February of 2017.) I tried vigorously with my trusty plunger ("plumber's friend"), applying lots of muscle. F tried that too, and checked the trap under the sink, but we got nowhere with it.

So, I called my handyman, and he came over and brought his plumber friend with a truck full of roto-rooter equipment. They had to try two different sizes. The total charge was $200. The plumber told me to pour vinegar down my kitchen sink now and then to help keep it clear.

But I don't know if what they did, was similar to what the wolf had done or not.

My handyman is getting old and I hope he wants to keep working for a long time. He's a real gem and knows a lot of the tradesmen around town that he calls in for various jobs, like he did with this plumber.
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Old 02-23-2019, 01:36 PM   #10
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The local plumbers have a serviceman unclogging simple drains for $89. If things get complicated and much digging is required, rates will go up from there.

I have replaced 3 toilets--one of which was last week. It's really just a 30 minute job. With decent toilets @ $150, everyone with old generation toilets needs to change them to the long, tall high efficiency units.

What scares me is the HVAC serviceman, and he too always has a checkup service special of maybe $49-$59 in down seasons. He's as much a salesman as a HVAC man--and sometimes I feel like I'm being taken advantage of.
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Old 02-23-2019, 02:18 PM   #11
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Successful independent plumbers can make 6 figure salaries. Some of my neighbors who are in the trade are very well off. Call on a weekend or at night the rates go higher. Miss our handyman who was Jack of all trades. Much lower rates, really nice guy but ICE came by and took him away.
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Old 02-23-2019, 03:00 PM   #12
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The last time I had a clogged drain I rented a power drain cleaner for about $45 from Home Depot. It took me less than 10 minutes to clear the line.
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Old 02-23-2019, 03:03 PM   #13
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The local plumbers have a serviceman unclogging simple drains for $89. If things get complicated and much digging is required, rates will go up from there.

I have replaced 3 toilets--one of which was last week. It's really just a 30 minute job. With decent toilets @ $150, everyone with old generation toilets needs to change them to the long, tall high efficiency units.
OK, I should have mentioned shipping the OP's pipes to Bama.

The point is... Living in SF is a privilege of sorts. The cost of housing, and living, is high. Suck it up. Enjoy what you like about SF -- the weather, the mountains nearby, the sea nearby. The culture. Pay with the price of housing and basic services.

If you want something cheaper, move to AL or MS. Guess what? You still have an ocean close. Ask Bamaman.

I would happily work as a handy-man and do this service for a price of maybe $40 per hour. I can handle simple clogs, my dad was a plumber. P-traps disassembly and reassembly with subsequent snaking of the pipes is straightforward once you have just a tiny bit of experience.

But I won't do it for one reason: LIABILITY. The USA is full of people ready to sue for any reason. I'm out of this game simply based on legal reasons. Oh, and maybe that's why that's another reason the cost of this service is so damn high.
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Old 02-23-2019, 03:07 PM   #14
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Successful independent plumbers can make 6 figure salaries. Some of my neighbors who are in the trade are very well off. Call on a weekend or at night the rates go higher.
The guy who shuts the water off and drains the lines at my GF's 3-season cabin for the winter charges $120...she called him before checking with me as I could have done it. Anyway, I was there when he showed up and talked to him and found out that him and his son shut down about 300 cabins every fall. it took him less than a half hour.

300 x $120 = $36,000.
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Old 02-23-2019, 03:17 PM   #15
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The guy who shuts the water off and drains the lines at my GF's 3-season cabin for the winter charges $120...she called him before checking with me as I could have done it. Anyway, I was there when he showed up and talked to him and found out that him and his son shut down about 300 cabins every fall. it took him less than a half hour.

300 x $120 = $36,000.
And he has to have an LLP and insurance to cover the one time that some cabin floods and costs $50k to fix.

Most of this stuff is basic. But, it also requires heavy lifting, crawling through black widow infested crawlspaces, putting your hand in the toilet to grab the false teeth that fell into the sh**, etc.

Plumbing is an excellent trade. It isn't easy, though. My dad paid with this joints and back. All that lifting of pipes and toilets took a toll. Exposure to pathogens is a daily occurrence. And much more.

Owning your own business -- where the 6 figure numbers comes from -- incurs the legal and insurance expenses. One pipe burst can cost an easy $50k of liability. Etc.

I recommend that the typical homeowner learn a bit about how to deal with a P-trap. Learn how to threads work (lefty-loosey, righty-tighty). Teflon tape is your friend. A simple drain snake is affordable and works wonders. Etc. So much basic plumbing is within the grasp of most people if they are willing to learn and extend themselves. I'm talking about replacing faucets and snaking drain lines. Toilet replacement is the next step up, and clearly possible for the DYIer. Advanced DYIers can do more like work with PVC, PEX or copper pipe, but that's mostly left to the pros and only needed when construction is necessary.
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Old 02-23-2019, 03:18 PM   #16
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The guy who shuts the water off and drains the lines at my GF's 3-season cabin for the winter charges $120...she called him before checking with me as I could have done it. Anyway, I was there when he showed up and talked to him and found out that him and his son shut down about 300 cabins every fall. it took him less than a half hour.

300 x $120 = $36,000.
I had a pool company out a few days ago to help with a filter issue. He was there for about an hour (there was a minimum trip charge and 1 hour of labor) so had him do a couple of other odds/ends. He told me that he "worked on side" and if I needed something done, he would do it cheaper than the pool company. He said that he would winterize the pool (which can be done in about an hour) for the "low, low cost" of $150 and that the pool company charges about $250. Oye!
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Old 02-23-2019, 03:36 PM   #17
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And he has to have an LLP and insurance to cover the one time that some cabin floods and costs $50k to fix.

Most of this stuff is basic. But, it also requires heavy lifting, crawling through black widow infested crawlspaces, putting your hand in the toilet to grab the false teeth that fell into the sh**, etc.

Plumbing is an excellent trade. It isn't easy, though. My dad paid with this joints and back. All that lifting of pipes and toilets took a toll. Exposure to pathogens is a daily occurrence. And much more.

Owning your own business -- where the 6 figure numbers comes from -- incurs the legal and insurance expenses. One pipe burst can cost an easy $50k of liability. Etc.

I recommend that the typical homeowner learn a bit about how to deal with a P-trap. Learn how to threads work (lefty-loosey, righty-tighty). Teflon tape is your friend. A simple drain snake is affordable and works wonders. Etc. So much basic plumbing is within the grasp of most people if they are willing to learn and extend themselves. I'm talking about replacing faucets and snaking drain lines. Toilet replacement is the next step up, and clearly possible for the DYIer. Advanced DYIers can do more like work with PVC, PEX or copper pipe, but that's mostly left to the pros and only needed when construction is necessary.
The smart ones learn the ropes when they're young and then hopefully open their own business and let the young kids do the dirty work hauling stuff and crawling in crawl spaces.

PEX and Sharkebite have definitely made it easier for DIYers, but even without those most people should be able to replace a tap or toilet without too much trouble.
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Old 02-23-2019, 03:42 PM   #18
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The smart ones learn the ropes when they're young and then hopefully open their own business and let the young kids do the dirty work hauling stuff and crawling in crawl spaces.

PEX and Sharkebite have definitely made it easier for DIYers, but even without those most people should be able to replace a tap or toilet without too much trouble.
My Dad did this w/ his HVAC company. Went to w*rk for Carrier and learned the ropes. Got burned badly due to a compressor explosion and when Carrier terminated him (for being in the hospital for 6 weeks) he went out on his own. A few years down the road when things got busy, he hired son (not me) and son-in-law to help out. They did much of the lifting, but *never* worked as hard as my Dad did. Never.

As an aside, he was in business for about 15 years and in that time *never* advertised. He had a box of business cards printed when he first started and I still have that box that is still almost full. He got all of his business by word of mouth.
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Old 02-23-2019, 04:04 PM   #19
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I had a pool company out a few days ago to help with a filter issue. He was there for about an hour (there was a minimum trip charge and 1 hour of labor) so had him do a couple of other odds/ends. He told me that he "worked on side" and if I needed something done, he would do it cheaper than the pool company. He said that he would winterize the pool (which can be done in about an hour) for the "low, low cost" of $150 and that the pool company charges about $250. Oye!
This situation is a tough one for me. Yes, I'd like to save the money by having guys like this do a "side job," and I've hired masons, guys who do concrete flatwork, etc when I saw them on a job somewhere else and I made contact with them. But in your case, the guy is taking (stealing?) business from the company he works for. You called that company to do work, now the tradesman is encouraging you to call him directly next time. If he'll do that to them, how will he treat me as a customer?

I realize opinions may differ on this.
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Old 02-23-2019, 04:28 PM   #20
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This situation is a tough one for me. Yes, I'd like to save the money by having guys like this do a "side job," and I've hired masons, guys who do concrete flatwork, etc when I saw them on a job somewhere else and I made contact with them. But in your case, the guy is taking (stealing?) business from the company he works for. You called that company to do work, now the tradesman is encouraging you to call him directly next time. If he'll do that to them, how will he treat me as a customer?

I realize opinions may differ on this.
Virtually everyone that works in a trade gets side offers, but it's wrong to actively take steal business from your employer.

It must be tough for someone making $15 or $20 an hour being asked if they can do a side job for $200 that they know can be done in 3 or 4 hours to say no.
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