Someone shit bricks — literally. And you won’t believe how much it cost to fix.
*This post was recreated from my original blog about our first flip.
The story starts about three months into owning our first fixer upper when we noticed the toilet in the basement backing up as well as the floor drain. But don’t fret, we wound up getting the whole fiasco solved after three different plumbers, the discovery of bricks in the sewer stand pipe and roots in the sewer line… and you will not believe how much it cost us to fix.
So here’s the story…
One day after setting out to wash my paint brushes in the basement’s slop sink I noticed water sitting on the ground in the corner and seeping out from under the toilet. In the entire three months we had owned the house the basement had never leaked and there was no evidence of it ever leaking prior to us owning it so I was almost positive it couldn’t be groundwater seeping in.
Upon further investigation (aka walking two feet so I could peer around the corner) I saw that the floor drain looked a little wet. I put two and two together and figured that all of the water we had been using that day for cleaning was backing up into the basement. All I could think was “thank God I didn’t empty the full-to-the-brim tub soaking in bleach water yet!”
We decided to call roto-rooter because we didn’t know any good plumbers (yet) and we heard they have free estimates and usually can come out the same day (same hour in our case.) And as long as they make no attempt to fix anything they don’t charge you– awesome! The roto-rooter man figured out that someone threw pieces of brick down into the ‘clean out’ of the sewer line. The problem was he also thought there were more bricks backed up in the line that we couldn’t see because “whoever did it probably was mad and took a long poll and pushed the bricks up into the pipe.” And because he knew this information they’d have to dig up the entire pipe and replace 5 feet on each side of the stand pipe, oh and by that the way “that will be $5,000 and we can do it tomorrow” said the roto rooter guy.
I hate feeling pressured so I politely told him we’d get other estimates and he continued to tell us that no one else would do it cheaper and that we should “really just dig it up.” (I look back on that now and I’m so glad I went with my gut and didn’t use them!)
We decided we’d try to get those bricks out ourselves! How hard could it be!? So we had a friend weld a flat piece of metal to a long metal pole we found laying in the yard (oh the treasures we find while flipping) so we could use it as a scooper and drag the bricks up the pipe with it. “This has to work! I can’t believe they wanted 5 grand when we just made this for free!”
Our dreams were short lived because guess what, it didn’t work. Back to square one.
So next we decided to purchase one of those plumber’s poles that has a metal three prong grabber on the end. The problem was that nobody had it in the stores so we had to search for it online. I left this up to the BF and he came back with the report that the only ones he could find were hundreds of dollars… I’m not entirely sure he was looking at the right ones but that’s neither here nor there. We were back to square one again.
Then a light bulb went off and we decided to introduce ourselves to the neighbor who drove a vehicle labeled “Mr. So & So’s Plumbing” hoping, just hoping he might be a plumber and not some chemist using a plumbing vehicle as his mobile meth lab. After we verified he was indeed an actual plumber we found out he had the tool we needed! But he came over a few minutes later with the bad news that the tool was rusted shut! He couldn’t get the handle to move so it was essentially useless. (The ups and downs of this story are like a roller coaster ride… try and hang on.) Yet again, we were back to square one.
Mr. So & So wound up calling his supplier to see if they’d sell a grabber tool to us “regular old non-plumber Joe Schmoe folk.” They would and the tool was only $35! After we got back from the supply house we grabbed a flashlight and immediately got to work. Within a few minutes we could tell the tool was gonna work… we were able to grab two pieces in under 60 seconds. But then, darkness.
The flashlight we just bought died. And to top it off, the 48 pack of batteries that we got for $11 were thirty minutes away at home (an hour round trip.) Top all that off with this cherry… we were forced to pay $6 for 4 batteries at the convenience store– for those of you that don’t feel like doing the math, that’s… a shit ton more, but it was either buy the batteries and continue on our way or wait until the next day, which doesn’t fly for someone as antsy as myself.
So we bought the batteries and worked for half an hour at grabbing the rest of the small pieces of brick out from the standpipe. After we thought the pipe was clear it was time for the moment of truth. Plumber #2 said to have one person flush a toilet and one person watch the pipe to make sure water came gushing through. Can you guess what happened next?
The water didn’t come gushing through. So at that point we were back to square one yet again. Defeated, we bit the bullet and called another plumber who specialized in sewer lines. Our plumber neighbor had a plumber buddy who mostly worked on sewer plumbing and he suggested we call him because “root-rooter would try and charge you $2,000 for something like that and my buddy is probably a little cheaper than that…” and with that Plumber #3 was over the very next afternoon.
As a side note: apparently different plumbers do different tasks? Like there’s a plumber for regular house plumbing and water heaters and then there are plumbers that mainly focus on sewer stuff and then there’s sometimes still another plumber who would deal with the heating system & air ducts because other plumbers don’t do duct work. Whaaaat?
Anyway, when Plumber #3 showed up we told him the whole story and he decided to send a snake into the pipe to see what was going on. He wound up pulling out a few roots but mainly wads upon wads of toilet paper and other paper products (probably some spackle too, oops!) He said that he cleared the problem but would recommend getting root kill (not an affiliate) from Home Depot for added protection.
After he was done he went to his truck to write up a bill. I patiently waited wait for my bill inside and while I’m sure I looked calm, cool and collected on the outside, I was secretly freaking out on the inside thinking this bill was going to blow my budget. He comes back and hands me this…
$200! Only $200?!? I kept my mouth shut before he decided to change his mind and immediately wrote him a check.
And that’s the story.
Be sure to check out the before and after pictures of our first flip here and
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