Recently, as temperatures plummeted, many of us in the area were experiencing problems with our plumbing.
I live outside of Red Deer in the small community of Benalto. I have a manufactured home and came out of it with a frozen sewer line in our guest washroom.
I called a plumbing company in Red Deer and told them that I had water moving from my tub, toilet and vanity sink, but there was no drainage. I suspected that it was frozen in the three-inch pipe that runs outside, under the unit.
I work out of town every day and I get home late. I was not able to deal with this myself.
I called the plumbing company and gave them the diagnostics over the phone. A lady on the other end said it sounded like it was a blockage in the toilet.
I had run a 10-foot snake down there myself after work and found no such blockage; yet, she was sure that was the problem.
When the plumber did show up a day late, I was working and my wife was home. We were charged $50 for travel from Red Deer to Benalto, 30 km, give or take. OK, no problem.
The plumber came in, ran a longer snake in and told me over the phone that he was going to have to take the toilet off the flange to do this, which now puts us into another price category — instead of the modest $80 per hour rate. Now we have about a half inch of water all over the floor.
The plumber doesn’t find a blockage and tells me it was a line to the street and that the job could run up to $1,200.
He crawled under my unit and found out that it was indeed frozen, but he couldn’t do anything about it because he did not have the right equipment to do that job. He was willing to come back the next day for another $50 travel charge. I told him not to bother, so he left my wife with a bill for $429.
My problem, however, had not changed. There was a big mess in my washroom and it was still frozen.
I called a friend of mine, who has a steamer, and asked him to come over. In about an hour and a half my problem was solved. I also put heat tape on the line.
I got a really great deal from my friend for a fraction of the plumber’s cost.
In the future, I will ask around before I let any professional screw me over like this.
I was right. We were frozen up and I could have saved myself all that money, but I had no time available to do this myself.
In the end, I had to take the time.
Just because tradesmen are professionals does not necessarily make them your best option.
I think this way of doing business is disgraceful. The plumber took my money and did nothing at all, except leave a big sloppy mess for my wife and I to clean up.
The friend, with his steamer, got the job done quickly. He had done six such sewers in the previous week and did not hose anyone in the process.