Avoiding the Sewer Scammer

By: Patrick Hooper

I know and trust that most sewer repair providers–plumbers, excavators, contractors, etc.–are honest, hard-working folk who want nothing more than to offer customers ethical, straightforward solutions to their problems. I work with many such service providers, who, not wanting to offer repair work without being certain of what needs to be done, bring me in to examine pipes and pinpoint problems before digging up a yard or busting up a basement floor.

However, as with all industries, there are exceptions, and consumers need to be on their guard at all times. And it isn’t always because of dishonesty either. Sometimes even the most seasoned plumbing professionals, counting on their years of experience and instinct, can mistakenly misdiagnose problems that they cannot visually see.

However, with many of my examinations, I have also experienced instances in which I believe service providers have been guilty of misleading customers for profit. Case in point is a homeowner who contacted me when sewage water backed up through a floor drain in his basement. Prior to calling me, he had contacted a company that “specialized” in waterproofing basements. Their “diagnosis” was that rain/ground water was somehow making it into their drainage system, forcing waste water to backup through the floor drain. Their solution? Waterproof the basement.

Unless there is a major failure with the sanitary drainage system, rain/ground water getting into a home will have nothing to do with sewer water backing up through a floor drain–a fact that a company specializing in basement waterproofing would have known. My video examination showed that the line had several “bellies”/low areas/”valleys” in the pipe. This prevents water and waste from running out of the pipe and can lead to buildup and blockages in the line. Additionally, a back-flow valve installed in the customer’s front yard, right at the curb, was an indication that backups from the city sewer may have been an issue in the past.

This scenario is exactly why Mainline Inspection Services exists. We don’t offer or sell repair services–we only provide honest, unbiased inspections, assessments, recommendations and repair cost estimates. We are consultants and consumer advocates whose mission it is to empower our customers with information they need to make informed, cost-effective decisions on the repair and maintenance of their sanitary and drain pipe infrastructure.

Since 1994, Dale Becker has worked with buyers, sellers and investors in all kinds of real estate markets in both California and Colorado. He writes The Colorado Real Estate Blog and has a nice piece on how to avoid sewer scams:

Beware of Sewer Scams

If you are a Cincinnati-area real estate professional or service provider, and have any stories/experiences related to sewer, sanitary infrastructure and/or drain pipe problems, I would love to hear from you and include your story in future posts.