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Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 05:18 PM   #1
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Home repair ripoffs

When I was working full time I settled for paying a lot for home repair because I lacked the time to do things myself. Now that I have time, I find that I have to kick the habit or get ripped off.

Two ripoffs that I hope to never repeat.

1. Removal of a hornet nest in my attic for $500 when all the guy did was go up there and spread some white powder in the area. This time I went up myself, well covered, and sprayed the nest at night with a long distance hornet spray I got for about $5. No more hornets.

2. Replacement of a slow flushing toilet that the guy said had to be replaced because the toliet had hard water deposits and could not be fixed. Another $500 for new toilet and work. This time I had the same problem with a downstairs toilet, poured in some Drano, let it sit for a few hours, and it is now flusing like new. Warning, some of the Dranos say not to use in toilets, this one was safe for toilets.

Hard to believe I was that dumb. Any other home repair ripoffs we should avoid?
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 05:31 PM   #2
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

If you want to save some money - go to a building site and ask the workers doing what you want done - how much would they charge.

Other rip offs:
Duct cleaning
Deck building

Just buy a new house and avoid the hassles.

I live in Georgia and generally the cost of work is reasonable - if you shop around.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 05:53 PM   #3
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonToRetire
When I was working full time I settled for paying a lot for home repair because I lacked the time to do things myself. Now that I have time, I find that I have to kick the habit or get ripped off.

...2. Replacement of a slow flushing toilet that the guy said had to be replaced because the toliet had hard water deposits and could not be fixed. Another $500 for new toilet and work. This time I had the same problem with a downstairs toilet, poured in some Drano, let it sit for a few hours, and it is now flusing like new. Warning, some of the Dranos say not to use in toilets, this one was safe for toilets....
Interesting - I'm very familiar with hard water deposits plugging the holes at the rim and interfering with a speedy flush, but given the diameter of the trap next to the bowl I can't imagine drano helping, unless it removed deposits in the jet many bowls have at the bottom. Do you remember the name of the product? Always looking for an easy chemical fix!
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 06:33 PM   #4
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by calmloki
Do you remember the name of the product? Always looking for an easy chemical fix!
It's the Drano Buildup Remover.
http://www.drano.com/plumbing-problems/

I know, I was surprised it worked but didn't have much to lose, maybe $4-5. And it worked. The plumber had told me the upstairs toilet had build up inside the rim and I believe him, but he never tried pouring a buildup remover down the toilet. I suppose with enough buildup it would keep the toilet from flushing. The toilet would drain the water, but so slow that it would not flush.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 07:57 PM   #5
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Ah - enzyme cleaner - shouldn't have any effect on mineral deposits but may help on organics - be sure to flush on a regular basis over the next week - I've used it in 1 1/2" drains and had it liquify build up, move it to the nearest elbow, and then plug up really well. Were I you I'd fill a 5 gallon bucket with hot water from the tub after the enzyme has had it's time and dump a few 5 gallon hot water flushes into the bowl.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 08:13 PM   #6
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by calmloki
Were I you I'd fill a 5 gallon bucket with hot water from the tub after the enzyme has had it's time and dump a few 5 gallon hot water flushes into the bowl.
Mmm... OK, just flushed it three times with superhot water from the tub. If it plugs again, should I use one of those snakes or call rotorooter? Anything should be cheaper than replacing a toilet.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 08:17 PM   #7
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonToRetire
Mmm... OK, just flushed it three times with superhot water from the tub. If it plugs again, should I use one of those snakes or call rotorooter? Anything should be cheaper than replacing a toilet.
Replacing a toilet yourself isn't very difficult, unless you have some kind of fancy dancy sort of toilet. I wouldn't pay anyone to do it. May be cheaper than calling rotorooter who may very well tell you to replace the toilet.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 08:30 PM   #8
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonToRetire
Mmm... OK, just flushed it three times with superhot water from the tub. If it plugs again, should I use one of those snakes or call rotorooter? Anything should be cheaper than replacing a toilet.
You can get a new bottom-of-the-line toilet for about $80 at bLowes or Home Despot.

What is your tank water level setting? Try raising it up as high as possible without causing a continuous flow down the bowl fill tube. Also, check the flapper valve - it may be closing too soon causing a partial flush. If you have one of the newer 1.6 gallon-per-flush toilets, it will be sensitive to these things. If you decide to buy a new toilet, consider one with a large and "fully glazed" trapway that will allow massive amounts of waste to flush quickly. Happy flushing!
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 08:31 PM   #9
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by calmloki
Interesting - I'm very familiar with hard water deposits
You could stop the problem at its source-- put a water conditioner (ion exchange resin) on the pipe leading into the house. They used to be a plumbing specialty feature but Home Depot sells them for a few hundred dollars now.

Our toilets, sinks, & faucets hardly ever build up any mineral deposits. The vast majority of our toilet cleaning is done with a brush & flush. Maybe once or twice a year I'll scrape a mineral ring off the bowl with a plastic putty knife, but those minerals aren't coming from the house water!
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 08:56 PM   #10
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
You could stop the problem at its source-- put a water conditioner (ion exchange resin) on the pipe leading into the house. They used to be a plumbing specialty feature but Home Depot sells them for a few hundred dollars now.

Our toilets, sinks, & faucets hardly ever build up any mineral deposits. The vast majority of our toilet cleaning is done with a brush & flush. Maybe once or twice a year I'll scrape a mineral ring off the bowl with a plastic putty knife, but those minerals aren't coming from the house water!
Yah - back when the gal insisted on a magic water softener-esque product. $3-400? Worked through the catalytic-ionic-pixie dust method espoused by the makers of cow magnet fuel savers. Sometimes in a relationship one does that which one knows is a waste of money because to argue further would cost too much. I do agree with her: this product doesn't add any salt to the water. Or do anything else. Of any benefit.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 09:09 PM   #11
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
You could stop the problem at its source-- put a water conditioner (ion exchange resin) on the pipe leading into the house. They used to be a plumbing specialty feature but Home Depot sells them for a few hundred dollars now.
I believe you are talking about the "Clear Wave"
I've been tempted to try one to get the lime out of the water,( tired of the salt game) but I've heard good and bad about this product. How does it install?
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-10-2007, 09:15 PM   #12
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick
You can get a new bottom-of-the-line toilet for about $80 at bLowes or Home Despot.

What is your tank water level setting? Try raising it up as high as possible without causing a continuous flow down the bowl fill tube. Also, check the flapper valve - it may be closing too soon causing a partial flush. If you have one of the newer 1.6 gallon-per-flush toilets, it will be sensitive to these things. If you decide to buy a new toilet, consider one with a large and "fully glazed" trapway that will allow massive amounts of waste to flush quickly. Happy flushing!
Cheap as I am I haven't been happy with the low-buck toilets - if you get up around $120 or so the Kohler Cadet is pretty decent. I totally agree that a big exit is a good thing. One toilet that I had to remove to unplug had Q-tips kinda basket-woven over the exit - could push a snake through, but ...stuff.. would pile on top of the weave and replug quickly. Pointed out to the renters that there were a very limited # of things that should go in the drain, and blue plastic Q-tips weren't on the list. Oddly enough, they had no idea how the Q-tips could have gotten in the toilet. Another rental mystery. Small plastic toys, pill bottles, golf balls - all love to get caught in the top of the trap and make flushing solids tough.

I've seen the plastic guide on the wax ring warp and cause problems, but on our old places the problem is usually tree roots, Rooter man can take them out, on known problem locations I spring for a $10 bottle of copper sulphate root kill in the spring and fall.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-11-2007, 08:27 AM   #13
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by dex
Other rip offs:
Duct cleaning
Deck building
Can you elaborate? Wife periodically asks about duct cleaning, and we are considering a deck addition.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-11-2007, 08:46 AM   #14
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

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Originally Posted by SoonToRetire
Can you elaborate? Wife periodically asks about duct cleaning, and we are considering a deck addition.
Lot's of fly by nighters in the duct field. Get a recommendation and check the BBB.
Nothing wrong with decks if it is built right and priced right.
Buy a book like "Decks from Creative Homeowner" and learn about proper construction techniques and codes. Then get as many bids as you can from insured and experienced builders.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-11-2007, 08:52 AM   #15
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

I went the easy route with the BAD low flow toilets that I had...I replaced two with a TOTO. Here is a link that provides really good info about toilets. I love my Totos.

http://terrylove.com/forums/
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-11-2007, 09:11 AM   #16
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:

Another rental mystery. Small plastic toys, pill bottles, golf balls - all love to get caught in the top of the trap and make flushing solids tough.
2 years ago I had 2 infant diapers make it past the tiolet .... $500 later I was wishing they'ld clog the tiolet.

Back on topic ... Learned along time ago you'll get screwed alot less if you get 3 quotes. Fact is these guys bill based on thier WORK load. Busy? Mark UP the job to justify the schedule squeeze. Need work? Make damn sure you under bid the competition.

Nobody returns your calls: good sign everyone is real busy. Delay the job if possible; or get ready to get screwed.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-11-2007, 09:38 AM   #17
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by SoonToRetire
Mmm... OK, just flushed it three times with superhot water from the tub. If it plugs again, should I use one of those snakes or call rotorooter? Anything should be cheaper than replacing a toilet.
I replaced toilets in all 3 bathrooms in my house, and I am BY FAR not the most handy guy in the US..............

Got low flush Eljers on sale, cost $119 at Menards. Add $9 for a wax ring and gasket kit. Total cost was $127 each.

1st toliet: took 2 hours to isntall
2nd toilet: took 1 hour to install
3rd toilet: took 42 minutes to install.

$381 to replace 2 toilets? Priceless................
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-11-2007, 10:07 AM   #18
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

I had a toilet that wouldn't flush. Kept horsing around with it since the house was build it 1918, had very funky plumbing (sewer gas venting out sink, etc.).

Eventually, it became obvious there was a problem with the sewer lateral. As in sewage starting to seep up under basement slab.

I couldn't even begin to figure what it would have cost to have that fixed. I rented a jackhammer, bought a plumbing snake, broke out the slab, carted out sewage-laden soil, found the break, sawed off the old broken clay pipe, managed to find a boot with clamps on either side, repaired the break, installed a cleanout (thinking ahead), hauled pea gravel in, and repaired the slab.

Whew!!! Total cost was about $200. Can't imagine what I would have charged someone else, however, to do the same thing.
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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-11-2007, 10:19 AM   #19
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

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I couldn't even begin to figure what it would have cost to have that fixed.
How'd you figure out where to begin digging?

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Re: Home repair ripoffs
Old 05-11-2007, 10:57 AM   #20
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Re: Home repair ripoffs

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPatrick
I believe you are talking about the "Clear Wave"
I've been tempted to try one to get the lime out of the water,( tired of the salt game) but I've heard good and bad about this product. How does it install?
We have a Kenmore Ultrasoft 100 and we're still playing the salt game. Kenmore has upgraded a mechanical timer to a microprocessor controller, but the system's chemistry is pretty well established after decades of use. Our rental home has a mechanically-controlled 10-year-old Ametek that's still going strong. Never had a single problem with either of them.

Oh, that Clearwave. You would think that the Navy's nuclear power industry has investigated all the ways to obtain pure H2O for reactor plants. The method of choice is ion-exchange resins, along with evaporative distillation and reverse osmosis. Costs & applications vary but running distillate through an IX produces the highest purity. RO is starting to get pretty darn cheap, though, and will eventually replace the Navy's shipboard evaporators.

Clearwave is voodoo science. Don't waste your money. Or for more entertainment, buy your own water-hardness meter and see if the salesman will let you test his Clearwave on your house's water pipes. But he might demur if he thinks it could be a conspiracy to make them look bad.

As for Clearwave's disparaging comments about disposing of the IX's salty effluent, well, I'll take my chances discharging all that brine into Hawaii's sewage system and the ocean.
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