Get a Free Second Opinion on Sewer Line Replacement

This week we had a homeowner call us because his daughter had a plumber out who said he cleaned the sewer line and discovered it was broken. He sent a sewer scope (camera) down the line to show the customer the problem.

When we took a look – we saw an even bigger problem – a faulty technician who was unskilled at best and a liar at worse. Here’s the story…

The technician states his and his company’s name and identifies himself as a master plumber. He uses the camera to show the space (good because it proves it’s this customer’s property), and says he ran the line approximately 90 feet. He said he didn’t pull back any roots. (This is jargon for saying that when he cleaned the line, there were no roots on his cable indicating there were any roots in the line.) This is important to note, because you can clearly see in the video, there are roots in the line. In fact, the video shows them at several spots.

The pipe turns from cast iron pipe to clay, and any time there is a transition in the pipe (called a joint), there is a space for roots to grow in. This transition happens at about 13 feet and there are no roots there. He slows down to show an offset around 16 feet. An offset means there is a separation of the pipes. This is also very common because sewer lines are placed in about 10-foot pipe lengths. As long as the offset isn’t so severe that it is allowing dirt in or sewage out, it is ok. Some people will line their sewer lines, replace them, or simply maintain them to prevent this.

It looks as though roots had likely grown in at that spot, but had been cut out, probably when the master plumber cleaned the line. Around 24 feet, he passes by another joint that looks like there are roots, but he doesn’t say anything. Around 39 feet, there is another clump of roots. At 43’ the technician says the sewer line is broken when the camera goes under water. The technician says it is a hole, and then shows the homeowner where “earth” is coming into the line. I took a still shot:

I was in agreement to the plumber up to this point. At 36 feet, there was a large clump of roots that demonstrates he didn’t clean the line past that spot. We know this because up until that point, you can see the roots have been cut down because they are flush with the pipe.

The master plumber told the client the line was broken and quoted him approximately $16,000 to repair the line.

This is where Garvin’s comes it. The client’s father called us and asked for another opinion. He sent us a copy of the video for us to review (which we do for free). We felt the line could be cleaned and re-scoped and offered to do that for under $400. We offered this because we really didn’t see a breakage or concern. Full disclosure: had we seen a repairable concern, we would have offered to bid the sewer replacement and see if we could come in under $16k.

Our drain cleaning technician went out and cleaned the line and re-scoped it, just as we said. This is a still shot of the same spot the original master plumber said it was broken. You can clearly see the difference a cleaning made. What you may not see as clearly, because you don’t have a trained eye or sewer expertise, is that the line isn’t broken like the first plumber said. Further, in the video, he said he ran 90 feet, yet when we ran the line, we found it to be 52 feet long. Curious and curiouser.

To keep it simple, here’s the summary:

Plumber 1:

  • Said he cleaned the line, but it appears he only cleaned about 30 feet (half the length of the line)
  • Said he didn’t pull back roots (there were CLEARLY roots in the line in several spots. Maybe he didn’t pull any back because he didn’t actually clean it)
  • Said there was a hole in the line (there were low spots, but no holes we saw)
  • Said there was earth coming in (nope, they were roots)
  • Said he ran 90 feet (he couldn’t have, or if he did, he was in the city main)
  • Said he’s a master plumber (which tells us he is ignorant, or deceptive)
  • Unsure what he charged the first time, but quoted an additional $16,000 dollars to replace the sewer line


  • Cleaned the full length of the line
  • We clearly saw where the roots were cut out of the line and where they weren’t
  • We saw two low spots in the line, but no holes found
  • We saw more uncleared roots, but not “earth coming in”
  • We found the length to be 52 feet
  • We are truly sewer line specialists
  • Quoted and charged $400, with no additional repairs needed.

We stand by our motto: We Clean Drains, NOT Bank Accounts! ®. Contact us today if you need a FREE second opinion on a sewer scope or sewer line replacement.

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