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Sewer Camera Inspection sometimes finds tree roots growing into your sewer line. Here’s a typical call giving info about tree roots in a sewer line in NJ.
Client: We have a 70 foot line about 70 feet from the risers in the basement from the cleanouts to the street. I just had a NJ plumber snake it and we videotaped it and it showed a lot of areas of tree roots. NJ Plumber: You need to jet it. It’s not a flat price for jetting we have to know how much time we are going to spend there and how many tree roots you have. Is it five little sections? Is the whole 70 feet packed with roots? The video inspection determines the price of the jetting that’s why you do a video inspection first.
Client: So I saw the video and the roots are at around 5 feet, between 24 to 38 there are a lot of roots and its bellied under water, between 45 and 60 there’s roots at almost every joint, so every 2 to 3 feet.
NJ Plumber: Is it clay pipe?
Client: Yes, unfortunately.
NJ Plumber: O.K. so if it’s clay pipe then its every 3 feet. That’s how clay pipe was put together with cement way back in the days.
They used to put it together with oakum and cement. Now don’t say unfortunately because clay pipe is actually good pipe, it’s a lot better than orange berg or even cast iron.
But where the joints are they would put them together with cement and oakum.
Now what’s happening after 40, 50, 60 years that cement is like stale bread, its falling out of the joints and its letting the tree roots go into the opening.
Obviously roots want moisture and there you have it probably every 3 feet, which was how it was built back in the day.
There’s no fittings, it just like they caulked it over 2 inches and then the pipe would go on a slight angle.
It sounds like we would have to be there a good part of the day. Its 70 feet long and it’s in a lot of sections. You’re going to have to video camera and jet as you go.
Client: I had the video done today.
NJ Plumber: No, I know that. What i’m saying is that when you jet you have to have the camera inside the pipe. You don’t just stick the hose in, hit a button and your roots go away.
You have to methodically go in every 3 feet working with the jetter machine and the camera so you can see where you are giving it a haircut so to speak.
We charge a minimum of 4 hours for $_____. That’s a minimum charge.
Client: O.K. that’s less than what the other plumbers is charging. If you go to 5 hours how much is it every extra hour?
NJ Plumber: Then you’re talking about $____ an hour thereafter.
In your case, let’s say we are there all day for 8 hours, you may spend $_____. I don’t know. I don’t know how sever or how thick the roots are. There’s a lot of variables.
But there is a minimum to bring the trailer out with a camera and 2 men, it’s a minimum of 4 hours.
Obviously if we can get it done in less than 4 hours great but from what your telling me I don’t think that’s going to happen because you’re telling me they are almost every joint and it’s 70 feet.
Client: It’s not every joint. It’s at 5 feet and then between 25 and 60 it’s at every joint.
NJ Plumber: Yeah, so jetting is very time consuming because you may sit at one spot for 10 minutes and you may sit at another spot for an hour.
You see what I am saying. So, like you said part of it was underwater because of the belly and that piece could take very long.
We don’t know so it’s very hard to give flat rate pricing, which is why we came up with the 4 hour minimum.
Client: Your quote is lower than the other plumbers, both the initial minimum and the per hour afterwards. We also got a quote to replace the entire pipe, which was $8,000. So to buy us time I’m considering the jetting.
NJ Plumber: Yeah, it’s going to buy you 8 years. In my experience the roots will grow back for about 8 years before it blocks the pipe again.
Client: So the jetting lasts for 8 years? Do you do an enzyme treatment during those years or is that just BS?
NJ Plumber: No, I sell an enzyme treatment and I am a believer in the enzymes, not a lot of the other nonsense though.
I have RootX which is a pretty good maintaining root system that you can pour into your toilet periodically and that will maintain the length of the roots once I’m done jetting it.
So no, I am a believer in the enzyme treatments. I have been selling enzymes for 20 years for grease and other factors as well.
Client: So if I want you to do the jetting do you need to come first to see the camera inspection or do you just do it?
NJ Plumber: No, we just do it. We will come to your house with the jetter and the camera and two men and we’re just going to do it. We’re going to go with the camera into that first 5 foot section and just go.
Client: A big concern of mine is that we have to have a NJ plumber come and snake it once a year because it clogs up and now it looks like its bellied at 33 feet but i’m concerned that these cables damaged the clay pipe, but the other NJ plumbers told me that if the pipe was damaged the snake wouldn’t go all the way through like it did.
NJ Plumber: Not necessarily, unless he saw the entire pipe on a camera crystal clear then you don’t know.
Client: No we did not see it all. We did not because some of it was under water.
NJ Plumber: Correct. So once I get done jetting the sewer, now you’re going to have a crystal clear picture of the entire line.
So you have to jett first which is your best investment, if there’s no broken pipes, which 9 out of 10 times there is not.
You have to jett first, invest in that, and then we will give you an after tape and for example we’ll say we got 95% of the roots out, you have some hairs at 10 feet, no big deal they will grow out only in 8 years, you’re good you just saved $7,000.
Your best option as a fix is jetting. If you want a permanent fix forever and ever then you have to replace the pipe.
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