Typical costs of repairs and what factors increase the costs
Repairs range from a couple thousand to upwards of Ten thousand dollars dependent upon several factors. The depth of the pipe plays a huge part in a bid. If the pipe is below 5 feet deep a trench shoring system must be in place to protect personnel. This costs time and money. If the trench or repair is within a right of way then traffic control must be implemented and a permit to obstruct that traffic must be purchased. If the pipe goes under a curb or street then asphalt work and or concrete work must be completed, this also increases the cost. Trees or landscaping that are in the way must be dealt with also. Underground utilities will slow down the process of excavation so as to not disrupt the services. If these utilities are on private property then a private utility locater must be brought in to locate.
Non biased scoping companies vs out for profit companies. Not all are the same.
Non biased or third party inspection companies are not looking to gain a profit from the outcome of their report. As a third party I am looking out for the interests of my client. I simply wish to show the client the shape of the sewer line and explain what issues exist and the best way to deal with them.
Some plumbing companies invest in a sewer camera and locating equipment to be able to provide a better service to their clients. Technology costs a lot. Having personnel that will not abuse an $8,000 camera can be a challenge. Most plumbers are hard working folks that demand a certain level of resiliency from their tools and working environment. Having a fragile camera on the work truck is a liability.
Lastly are the plumbing companies that are using their camera to sell jobs. I have seen many incidents where a company used a video of a bad sewer to sell a sewer replacement when it wasn’t even necessary. If you have a video inspection performed ask to see the video. I try to show the room or surroundings before entering the drain. Some companies show the invoice with a date and time stamp. These are great ways of displaying an honest inspection.
I have a septic system. Should I get it checked out?
Septic systems are made up of a pipe that carries all solids (black water) and all liquids (gray water) to a separation tank. The separation tank has a concrete divider which allows the solids to remain trapped on the surface of the black water side and allows the gray water to flow to the down hill side. The gray water then travels down another pipe to a distribution tank or commonly referred to as a D tank. The D tank evenly distributes the effluence through a series of pipes that make up the leach field. The leach field pipes have holes in them so as to evenly disburse the effluence into the ground where the moisture evaporates and leaches into the soil.
Issues that could affect the performance of the system include improper maintenance scheduling, excavation within the leach field, problems with the distribution piping or tanks.
It is important to add enzymes to the tank on a regular basis. Enzymes will consume the solids in the tank, extending the time between pumping intervals. The tanks must be pumped or they will fill up with solids eventually leading to solids being introduced to the D tank and leachfield. This will eventually lead to solids being disbursed into the distribution tank and in turn the leach field piping. This will basically render the system useless.
I have inspected several leach fields that had some sort of excavation within the footprint of the field. This will usually fracture the pipes and disrupt the flow of gray water causing the system to back up. With the piping infrastructure all previous issues are relevant. Roots, fractures, offsets and belies will all cause problems if left unchecked.