Roter Rooter got Auger Stuck, refuses to correct, who’s liable?

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    • #279092
      MasterPlumbers
      Keymaster

      My home is about 50 yrs old. I’ve had the lines “rooted” out just about every spring by a pro. This year, I called Rooter Rooter (since they could come on Sat. with no additional cost). At this point, the only problem was a comode that was gurgling when I ran the dishwasher or laundry. But I figured it was just a matter of a month or so before water would be backing up.
      The Roter rooter guy seemed to be pushing the auger very hard. In the past, I’ve observed the guys sending the auger in a short distance, bringing it back out, cleaning the blade and sending it back in again. This guy just kept pushing it harder when it slowed down.
      Well, you guessed it. It got stuck. He attempted to put it in reverse but was not able to retrieve it. He simply cut the cable about two feet above ground level and said he’d be glad to send someone to give an estimate on digging up the front yard. Needless to say, I now have a seriously stopped up drain…stopped up with his auger!
      His claim is that the pipe had a break allowing the auger to enter the dirt. I complained to Rooter Rooter and they sent two guys to try to pull the cable out by hand! It would not budge. Surely there’s a machine that can do this???

      My question may be more legal than plumbing related, but in your opinion, Is Roter Rooter liable for getting their Auger out of my pipes at their cost? If my pipe does indeed have a break that allowed the blade to enter the dirt, does this matter? They still are the ones who got the auger stuck.

      I would love any help anyone can give. I simply cannot afford to have the pipe dug up…but I’m getting tired of running to the corner gas station! LOL

    • #300022
      Robert Stephen Morton

      windsong. Your post annoys me immensly. However I will restrain myself.
      Obviously your sewerage is in a very bad state if you have to have them snaked out every year, your sewer apparently was blocked by roots tha you were obviously aware and which have obviously become a major inhibitor of free flow.
      These apparent roots have caught the cutter head to the point of the operator disconnecting rather than damaging the expensive equipment.
      His equipment is not stopping your drainage it is the faulty drainage which has captured his equipment.
      You should have dug up the problem years ago but now would be an oportune time because the offending problem should be easy to find. However you should now engage a Fully Licensed Master plumber to do this work as you should have in the first instance.
      Dont be so fickle & pay your dues.
      Bob

    • #300023
      WindSong1

      Bob,
      I appreciate the time you took to answer, but your response didn’t help much. Perhaps I didn’t give enough information.

      The drains are not in such bad condition. I have a yard full of trees, rich dark soil so everything grows exceptionally fast, and pipes with joints that allow tiny roots into the drain. As most people do around here, we simple have the roots removed periodically. Problem solved.
      And the drain wasn’t backing up. In fact it has never backed up. The only symptom that let me know it was about time to have it rooted was a gurgling sound in the commode after doing a large amount of laundry while the dishwasher was running and kids in the shower. So you see, I haven’t neglected the situation.

      So back to my basic question, Do you think Rooter Rooter is responsible for removing their property from my drains. Especially if, once the yard is dug up, it turns out that there is no break in the pipes.

    • #300024
      robertgf

      i agree, any drain that needs to be cleaned out annually runs the risk of eventually needing replacement.ask any plumber what his greatest fears are and getting the auger stuck has got to be in the top ten. perhaps this is something yuo can work out with roto rooter out of court. a big firm like that probibly has some kind of reserve built into its pricing for this kind of situation.you were going to have to take care of this eventually, this just came a little sooner

    • #300025
      Robert Stephen Morton

      Windsong1. No I didnt misread your question.
      Fact – most growing plants need water. They love to get their toes wet. A rubber ring normally provides about 5 lbs of pressure on the joint. A root can exert 40 lbs pressure on a joint. Once a root has penetrated a joint it expands with finger roots protruding. When a root is cut off in a sewer the plant survives & the roots continue to grow. The gurgling sound you have is a partial blockage causing air traps in your drainage, each time you use a fixture the pressure of the extra water expells air through your traps (gurgling.
      The Rooter mob may have used excess pressure in cutting the roots, but the stuffed drg problem was yours, the costs involved in cleaning the drainage is yours & part of that is extracating the Cutter head. The condition of your Drainage is a Latent Condition ( couldnt be anticipated by a competent person unless a visual inspection was made) I am not commenting about the competency of the Rooter mob, But had you engaged a Professional Licensed Plumber to visually inspect the drainage & who then attacked the problem with this knowledge & got the cutter head stuck then he would be responible, but only to remove the cutter.
      The problem with society these days is that the consumer believes that they shouldnt have to pay for anything but a minimum.
      Mr Windsong1 you engaged this mob to snake your drainage, they did this at your request, you were the competant person who should have known the condition of the drainage.
      You also stated that the drainage was not blocked, so why was it necessary for the rooter mob to attend after hours? As you said they could attend on Saturday at no extra cost.

      Bob

    • #300026
      WindSong1

      Bob,
      Thanks again. This answer has helped a lot. And just as a side note, the reason for the Sat. call was just so I wouldn’t need to miss work during the Mon-Friday grind. I called several companies, explained there was no urgency but I couldn’t afford to miss work. The all charged a preium for anything other than 8-5 M-F.

    • #300027
      WindSong1

      Robertgf,
      Thanks also for your help. Do you know of any situations where a situation like this went to court? I don’t object to paying for the cost if it turns out he is correct and the pipe is broken allowing the auger to enter the soil…but I truly believe the blade just got tangled in the roots. Had he pulled it out and cleaned the debri away before sending it back in, I don’t think it would have gotten stuck. Of course the only way to determine the problem is to dig the pipe up. So I guess I’m asking, If it turns out that the pipe is not broken, Is Rooter Rooter responsible?

    • #300028
      lndsh95725

      Were you not happy with the previous company that snaked your lines? If you wanted to live with roots in your line insted of footing the bill to do a replacement, at least a routine cleaning agreement should have been made with someone who knows your system. Your toilet gurgling obviously meant your line was more than just a little partially blocked. The guy you called, not being familiar with the situation, may have used a different technique to run the line through (perhaps he was less experienced), but that doesn’t make him responsible for a faulty line. Your next step is to pay someone to excavate the area where the cable snagged, retrieve it and repair the troubled area. Then reclean the line, run a camera through and you will have an idea of what needs to be done. Whether you have RR do it or not, you should make them aware of the situation. More likely than not, they will give you a discount. They don’t want an unsatisfied client. If you expect them to foot the bill for all this though, in my opinion that is unreasonable.
      Greg H.

    • #300029
      TheLocalPlumber

      OK heres my 2 cents.
      First off and an answer to your question, NO one other than the homeowner is liable for sewer repairs that go awry if there is a broken pipe.
      Now broken may be a relative term to you but to me, a person in this business a long time, a broken pipe is any pipe that has an opening to the outside of said pipe. If any roots are in the pipe, it has to be broken.
      It sounds like you have a whole neighborhood of broken pipes. This does not mean that it is normal, it means the whole neighborhood has sewer problems that can only be fixed by repairing or replacing pipe. If a sewer rod gets stuck in a pipe because of it catching on an old sewer rod, roots, dirt, anything. It is the responibility of the owner to bite the bullet and fix it right.
      Did you really think it would be right to have roto rooter come in now and replace your sewer to the street at no charge. Give me a break.
      Bill
      The Local Plumber
      Tustin, California http://www.TheLocalPlumber.com

      » This message has been edited by TheLocalPlumber on 23 September 2002

    • #300030
      Robert Stephen Morton

      Mr Windsong. I prom,ised not to respond but I cant help myself here, crikey you are a patient person if this line is still blocked.
      Bob

    • #300031
      robertgf

      i just watched austin powers again the other day, what does crikey mean?

    • #300032
      Robert Stephen Morton

      Corr lummey don’t you know nuthin or enythin.
      The Crocodile hunter invented it to describe his enthusiasm, surprise, loss of words in any given situation, sort of like bloody hell! or oh poop! or any of those superflous words used on American movies of Adults only standards.
      Only the word Crikey doesn’t offend.
      Bob

    • #300033
      robertgf

      thanks, i think it is a pretty cool word or euphimism or whatever

    • #300034
      WindSong1

      Oh I suppose I am a bit patient! This was going one for about two months before I ever posted the note. But actually the drain is not giving me any problems unless I try to run the dishwasher and laundry at the same time. And then it’s just a small puddle about two feet in diameter of what I’m guessing is considered “gray water”. I’ve never had water back up into the house or anything like that. But I’m getting ready to put the house on the market and there’s no doubt this will be an issue.

      But I am curious about what someone (up there) wrote about the definition of a broken pipe. These are tiny hair like roots that come in through the joints of a pipe…how is that considered broken? Is it relevant to mention that these are terracotta pipes? Are any of you guys in the deep south? Maybe the conditions are just different here….

    • #300035
      Robert Stephen Morton

      Mr Windsock. all trees or shrubs like to get their toes ” hair roots” into water, Drainage inherently carries water.
      When hair roots penetrate a drain they grow & anoy the householder.
      The Local Licensed Plumber comes along & trims these hair roots.
      The cut off roots grow more hair roots & the orriginal hair root becomes an adult root exerting up tp 40lbs of pressure on the joints it has penetrated & sends out lots of baby hair roots to anoy the householder enough to call the Licensed Plumber again.
      The Licensed Plumber comes along & trims the adult root & the adult root turns into a Grandfather root with lots of little hair roots to anoy the house holder.
      The Householder calls in the Licensed Plumber Who is by now deciding on the colour of his new BMW but will charge extra for weekend work, so the crafty Householder decides to call in a Franchiseee who doesnt charge extra as he is paying for the Franchise.
      By this time old grandfather Root has fractured most of the joints in the drainage system unbeknown to the unsuspecting but knowledgable householder, Knowledgable because every time he gets the Sewer snaked the Plumber shows him the hair roots.
      The Franchiseee inserts his rooter down the drain & old grand father Root says ” Crikey we have got to stop this carnage of our ofspring” & grabs the Head.
      It is this time that Mr Homeowner thinks that its the Franchisee wots caused this & reckons with the Franchisee.
      The Franchisee feeling somewhat overwhelmed by the critiscism agrees to remove the head, but alas the home owner wishes for the drainage to be like new, to which the franchisee cannot agree, the ensuing months allow old grandfather root to completely envelope the head & now the drainage is in a state of not being a drain but a pipe full of roots & a steel cable to boot.
      The moral to the story is


      Crikey I forgot, But Terra Cotta, Earthenware call it what you want breaks when subjucted to the pressure exerted by roots, oh yes I remember “The roots done it”.
      Bob

    • #300036
      John Aldrich1

      Bob, GREAT ANALYSIS, and GREAT RESPONSE!!!!

      CRIKEY “The ROOTS DONE IT!” :>)

      John Aldrich (Septic Tank Yank)
      Septic System Consultant
      Advanced Professional Engineering, Inc.
      Fort Collins, Colorado USA
      jaldrich@advancedpe.com

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