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Objective, Unbiased
Sewer & Drain Line Inspection,
Location, & Consulting Services

Schedule Inspection

Get the complete picture before purchasing a property or scheduling a repair.

Mainline Inspection Services, LLC provides comprehensive video examinations of sewer lines, downspouts, drains and other pipes, empowering you to make educated decisions about major investments and repairs.

Unlike other companies that offer video inspections, we are not a plumbing sales organization. Instead, we provide unbiased, objective examinations and assessments of the condition of your pipes. We do not up-sell repair work,  nor do we offer repair services.

We want our customers to have a complete picture of the condition of their sewer lines and other commonly overlooked infrastructure–giving them a real advantage when making decisions about home purchases, sewer line maintenance and repairs, real estate investments and more. Give yourself an advantage today, call Mainline Inspection Services at 513-349-3357 or email info@MainlineInspection.com

What our customers are saying about us

"When I met Patrick, the owner of Mainline inspection Services, and learned of his 'consultative approach' to helping people with their sewer and drain pipe problems, I was impressed. He's not a plumber. He just takes a look at your of sewer lines, downspouts and drains and tells you what's going on..." (Read More)

Testimonials

Customer Testimonials

“The information your report gave us for buying our home was invaluable.”

—Anthony H.

"I first met Patrick at a Cincinnati Real Estate Investors Association meeting where we are both vendors. I was immediately impressed with his presentation of reports and videos that showed remarkable information and detail. I immediately realized this could be a very valuable service for my clients and it wasn’t long before an opportunity arrived to test Patrick’s expertise. One of my investor clients went under contract on a bank-owned property. After the contract was executed, my buyer had the opportunity to perform his inspections. We completed the structural and mechanical portion of the inspection, but in order to inspect the plumbing portion, the bank had to turn on the water. It is common practice on bank-owned properties for the bank to charge a fee to “dewinterize” then “rewinterize” the house, usually around $250. I recommended to my buyer that, instead of paying $250 to just turn on the water and visually watch the drains, he contact Mainline Inspection where for about the same amount he could get a complete video inspection. My buyer agreed and called Patrick who scheduled an inspection right away. The report was completed and showed that water and waste were being held in several sections of the sewer line. My buyer took the report to a plumbing company and obtained a repair estimate based on the results of the video. The repair estimate called for replacing the entire line at a cost of about $10,000! I then presented the independent inspection report and repair estimate to the bank with our request for a price concession. With the report as our basis, we were able to get the bank to agree to price concessions for the repairs saving my buyer thousands of dollars! The inspection paid for itself many times over! I would highly recommend Patrick’s service for to any of my real estate clients. He provides very prompt and professional service which can save you thousands in hidden costs!"

—Marty Russell, Exit Realty West

“I own a company in Cincinnati called Inspection Plus. We have done over 34,000 full house inspections since 1991, throughout the Tri-State area. I have been sending my clients to Mainline Inspection Services for over a year whenever I suspect there may be an issue with their underground drain lines. In my line of work, it’s great when clients ask if I know someone who can perform a task—Patrick has been a big help to my clients and I am sure Mainline Inspection has saved my customers thousands of dollars prior to closing on a house. I would recommend Mainline Inspection Services to any of my clients.”

—John Cordell, Inspection Plus, LTD

"As a consumer, I tend to be skeptical and am always in search of the “right company.” For this reason, I’m sharing my recent experience with Mainline Inspection Services. Due to a sewer problem, I had five plumbers evaluate my situation and provide quotes for the repair. Estimates ranged from approximately $12,000 to a couple thousand dollars. Although I was hesitant to make yet another phone call, I contacted M.I.S. and found Mr. Hooper to be professional, honest and patient. As unbelievable as this sounds, with his help I was able to complete the project myself for only a few dollars and some sweat equity. I believe that difference between M.I.S. and the others is that, unlike the others who are plumbing contractors, Mr. Hooper was not invested in soliciting a plumbing contract. Finding the problem was his agenda; providing a repair quote afterwards was not. For this reason I highly recommend M.I.S. I realize that my situation is quite atypical and that my story almost sounds not believable. I also realize that my review probably sounds like a commercial. Probably so. Regardless, understand that I had never met Mr. Hooper prior to my situation and have no investment in writing this review other than for the protection of other consumers like myself. As consumers, I think it is important to protect each other against fraud, deceit, etc."

—Keith M., Finneytown

“Patrick, Two follow-ups to the investigation you did for me—first, because you were able to pinpoint the leak in our sewer lateral as being under a paved alley, the sanitation district took on the full responsibility to repair the problem and, I believe, even remove the root ball that you found near the leak. Without that proof, it would have cost me a bundle to make the repairs. My cost to prove the location had the added benefit of identifying the unexpected routing of the sewer lines under the basement floor. Second, I mentioned to a friend in REIAGC about the inspection and your comment that a low-occupancy house can get by without realizing that the drainage system has a partial block. That blockage can be a real problem if a larger family moves in. My friend had experience with a similar problem where her grandmother's sewer always backed up when the family gathered at Thanksgiving. So, foreknowledge of drainage problems can help the buyer recoup some of the repair costs during the negotiations.“

—Ken Truman, Conscientious Craftsmanship in Residential Rehab, Restoration and Repair

“I hired Mainline Inspection Services to inspect my backyard drain lines in order to determine where they were located and if they were working properly. Patrick provided amazing customer service—he called prior to arrival, arrived on time, completed the work on time... and most important (to me), completed the work on budget. No offense to Patrick, but I hope I don't need to hire him again for this service... but if I ever do need my drain lines inspected, Patrick would be the person I would contact first. Thank you for the great work!”

—Ryan M., Madeira

When I met Patrick, the owner of Mainline inspection Services, and learned of his 'consultative approach' to helping people with their sewer and drain pipe problems, I was impressed. He's not a plumber. He just takes a look at your of sewer lines, downspouts and drains and tells you what's going on...he’s not there to up-sell any service. This way, for example, you can see if a property you're considering purchasing has issues with the sewer lateral. Or, he'll let you know if you really do need that big repair bill the plumber said you need to pay. I didn't have either of these issues--what I did have was an upstairs bathroom sink that I couldn't unclog. I had two daughters wanting it unclogged and a wallet that didn't want to pay for Mr. Plumber. So I called Patrick for advice--On a Sunday! It's not his line of work but he gave me a couple suggestions and a bit of reassurance (i.e. he consulted) and I got my drain clear. No charge. Just helpful. If I ever do have an issue with my sanitary system, or any drain pipe for that matter, I know who I'm calling.

—Howard M., Bellevue, KY

Service Providers

Service Providers

Mainline Inspection Services’ mission is to provide unbiased video examinations and assessments of sewer and storm water drain lines. We are consultants—we do not offer repair or maintenance services.      

Because we receive so many customer requests for recommendations of excavation and plumbing service providers, we have developed the following list of vetted professionals.  The decision to include these companies on our website is based on:

  • Positive ratings and reviews from online resources
  • Required insurance, bonding, state licensing and workers’ compensation coverage
  • Face-to-face interviews with a Mainline Inspection Services representative
  • Feedback from M.I.S. customers

The inclusion of these companies on our website does not constitute an endorsement.  Mainline Inspection Services strongly recommends that you do your own research when deciding on a contractor—the best referrals often come from well-informed friends and family.

We have provided this information to offer our customers a more-complete service experience.

Service Providers
Terms of Agreement
List of
Service Providers

Service Provider List

Service Provider List

A All Valley Plumbing

Services provided:
– Hydro-jetting and drain cleaning
– Sewer contractor
– Complete plumbing services

Phone: 513-733-3311
110 East Mechanic Street, Cincinnati, Ohio 45215

aavp@zoomtown.com

Aaron Andrews Septic Services

Services provided:
– Septic pumping and cleaning
– Septic and cistern tank repairs
– Septic and leach line repairs
– Septic and cistern tank inspections

Phone: 513-625-0059
Mobile: 513-508-0653
3193 Pennington Lane, Williamsburg, Ohio 45176

aaronn_andrews@yahoo.com

CME Sewer Repair

Services provided:
– Industrial, commercial and residential
– Sewer and drain pipe re-lining
– Excavation/sewer repair and replacement
– Hydro-jetting

Phone: 513-672-8302
12077 Mosteller Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45241

customerservice@cmepipelining.com
CMEPipeLining.com

Ken Neyer Plumbing, Inc.

Services provided:
– Complete commercial and residential plumbing service
– Sewer cleaning and hydro-jetting
– Sewer and waterline repair and replacement by excavation or trenchless pipe bursting.

Phone: 513-353-3311
4895 State Route 128, Cleves, Ohio 45002

NeyerPlumbing.com

Reliable Leak Detection, LLC

Services provided:
– Underground leak detection
– Slab leak detection

Phone: 513-488-6234
5545 Bridgetown Road, Cincinnati, Ohio 45248

brj@reliableleakdetection.com
ReliableLeakDetection.com

Service providers may be added to this page as they are vetted and approved by Mainline Inspection Services.

Service Providers Terms of Agreement

Service Providers Terms of Agreement

To be listed on MainlineInspection.com, all service providers agree to the following terms:

  • The inclusion of a company as a service provider associated with Mainline Inspection Services will be permitted by referral/invitation and interview only.
  • Service providers represent and warrant to Mainline Inspection Services that they have all required insurance, bonding, state licensing and workers’ compensation coverage.
  • All price quotes provided to customers of Mainline Inspection Services will be offered in good faith—assuring honest and fair estimates for services to be provided.
  • Services provided to customers of Mainline Inspection Services are to be completed in a timely and professional manner—the contractor agrees to return all phone calls/emails and to show up for all appointments as scheduled. Should an appointment need to be cancelled and/or rescheduled for any reason, the service provider agrees to contact customers as soon as possible to do so.
  • All work performed for customers of Mainline Inspection Services is to be guaranteed by the Service Provider.

List of
Service Providers

Schedule Inspection

Schedule Inspection

Before scheduling, please review and look into the following items to help prevent potential problems with performing your inspection:

  • Access into drain lines can sometimes be limited or completely unavailable. Access to the property’s waste-water line(s) should be confirmed prior to the inspection, if possible.
  • If you will not be attending the inspection, please be available by phone during the inspection time slot in case there are any complications with performing the assessment.
  • Water usage should be restricted during the inspection. If you are scheduling a pre-purchase appointment to be conducted at the same time as a whole-house inspection, please let your home inspector know ahead of time.

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Schedule Inspection Form

Schedule Inspection

Schedule Inspection Agreement

Why a Service Agreement?

Mainline Inspection Services is fully insured and 100% responsible for any
accidental property damage. However, Mainline Inspections Services
will not be held responsible for pre-existing conditions/damage.

 

Mainline Inspection Services Agreement

Please read and sign at the bottom.

I understand that Mainline Inspection Services has agreed to perform a video inspection of the main sewer line and/or other pipe infrastructure and/or line location at the property indicated for a fee of $325.00—and that there is the possibility of additional fees should additional time and materials be required. This service will include a video inspection of the entire line or to a distance previously agreed upon, a digital copy of the video, a written report and consultation.

However, I also understand that there may be obstructions in the pipe or other unforeseen extenuating circumstances, including but not limited to natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, floods), performance failure of parties outside the control of Mainline Inspection Services, such as failure of suppliers, subcontractors, and/or carriers or of the premises’ owner to substantially meet their performance obligations, such actions that may inhibit or prevent Mainline Inspection Services from performing the work described. Regardless of this outcome, I agree to pay the minimum fee based on the rate described above.

I also understand that in the event that the inspection may not be fully completed, Mainline Inspection Services agrees to return for a second attempt to provide the agreed-to service(s) at a reduced rate of $275.00. This offer shall be extended for period not to exceed 30 days from the date of the initial inspection.

In requesting a pre-purchase video inspection of the main sewer line and/or other pipe infrastructure, I understand that the condition of the pipes cannot be conclusively and/or completely determined prior to visual examination and that the pipes may be deteriorated by such causes as age or exposure to acid or other chemicals, and thus render impossible and/or impracticable the entire scope of services originally agreed to. I also understand that all inspections are limited to an inspection of the interior of the relevant pipes.

Therefore, in consideration of the services requested, I hereby release and forever discharge Mainline Inspection Services, LLC, its parent company, affiliates, subsidiaries, officers, employees, agents, contractors and/or subcontractors, servants, heirs, administrators, executors, insurers, successors and assigns (hereafter collectively referred to as “Mainline Inspection Services”) from any and all claims, demands, controversies, damages (including but not limited to consequential damages), expenses, costs, attorneys’ fees, and causes of action of any kind whatsoever which I might later have against Mainline Inspection Services for property damage arising from or related to the services performed by Mainline Inspection Services as contemplated by this agreement. I further agree to indemnity and hold harmless Mainline Inspection Services against any such claims made by any third Party.

I represent and warranty that I am the owner or duly authorized agent of the owner(s) of the premises or have been granted permission by the current owner(s) and accept full responsibility.

I represent and affirm that I am of full age and that I have every right to contract in my own name.

I represent and affirm that I have read each and every word of the foregoing.

    Sign below in the box.


    Pricing

    Pricing

    RATE 

    The rate for a single video inspection from a single access point is a non-hourly flat rate of $325 (no additional charge for report preparation). This includes the inspection itself; a digital report, which incorporates photos and video of the examination; and a report review and consultation with a Mainline Inspection Services technician. 

    SCHEDULE OF PRICING 

    Inspection Pricing

    Video Inspection $325

    Additional Inspections (if located at the same property)

    Short Line (Up to 25 linear feet) $75
    Medium Line (25 to 50 linear feet) $125
    Long Line (Greater than 50 linear feet) $225
    Storm Line Inspection (Requiring additional labor/equipment) $425
    Consulting Fee (separate service) $100

    Please Note: Drain line inspections that require relocation to one or more additional access points due to extreme length or any other issues/circumstances with the pipe will be considered additional inspections.

    In addition to requests for additional inspections, unforeseeable issues with the pipe and/or access can possibly increase the cost of the inspection. The most common additional costs are caused by additional labor and materials required to inspect lines lacking easily accessible cleanouts/entry points.

    Additional Labor and Materials

    Remove (drill out) and replace PVC cleanout cap (if necessary) $25
    Remove (cut/chisel out) and replace brass cleanout cap (if necessary) $50
    Clear debris/obstruction from pipe/cleanout/vertical stack $50
    Pull and reset toilet; replace wax ring $100

    Incidental Charges

    Trip Charge – Inspections unable to be performed due to circumstances
    beyond the control of the Mainline Inspection technician; often due to
    lack of–or inaccessible entry points/cleanouts that are located behind walls and/or beneath carpet or flooring

      $75

    Travel Charge – Additional charge for inspections located more than 35 miles (one way) from M.I.S. headquarters

      $25
    Stand-By – A rate of $50 per hour may be applied to inspections delayed more than 30 minutes for any reason outside the control of the Mainline Inspection technician.

    Saving Report to Thumb Drive

    If it is necessary to save the finished inspection report to a USB travel drive, please provide a minimum 8GB flash drive, along with a self-addressed and stamped “cushioned” envelope. If you need M.I.S. to provide and mail a flash drive, there will be an additional $25 charge, which includes shipping and handling.

    Additionally, should you call other companies for an estimate, below are a few things you should ask about:

    • Clarify whether or not the price you have been quoted is an hourly rate. We are very clear and transparent about our rate (which is flat) and all other potential costs. Often times, companies will offer quotes of around $175 to $250 but fail to mention that the price will increase, or possibly double should the time to inspect go beyond an hour. A thorough inspection should take more than an hour—M.I.S. inspections usually take between 1.5 to 2 hours—but can go longer.
    • Will the company provide a report detailing and reviewing their findings, as well as recommendations? M.I.S. provides two documents. The first is a digital copy of the video inspection report which includes the video, as well as photographs of the entire inspection from start to finish—detailing issues and concerns along the way (there is a sample on our website). M.I.S. also provides a separate review with an overview—as well as mitigation recommendations if warranted. This information can be invaluable should there be a need to negotiate any remediation.
    • Is the company also a contractor/service provider? When there is an incentive to find problems due to the possibility of being contracted to fix those problems, there is a potential conflict of interest. Since M.I.S. does not provide repair services—you know that our inspections and evaluations are 100% honest and unbiased.

    Schedule Inspection

     

    Schedule Inspection Before Page

    Schedule Inspection

    Before scheduling, please review and look into the following items to help prevent potential problems with performing your inspection:

    • Inspections typically require at least 12 hours of lead time to arrange. Pre-purchase inspections may take longer, as they must be coordinated and approved by the seller/seller’s agent.
    • Access into drain lines can sometimes be limited or completely unavailable. Access to the property’s waste-water line(s) should be confirmed prior to the inspection, if possible.
    • If you will not be attending the inspection, please be available by phone during the inspection time slot in case there are any complications with performing the assessment.
    • Water usage should be restricted during the inspection. If you are scheduling a pre-purchase appointment to be conducted at the same time as a whole-house inspection, please let your home inspector know ahead of time.

    Schedule Inspection Now

    Schedule Inspection (Weekend)

    Schedule Inspection

    Before scheduling, please review and look into the following items to help prevent potential problems with performing your inspection.

    • Access into drain lines can sometimes be limited or completely unavailable. Accessibility of the property’s drain line(s) prior to the inspection appointment should be confirmed if possible.
    • If not attending the inspection–you should be available by phone during the inspection time slot in case there are any complications with performing the assessment.
    • If you are scheduling a pre-purchase appointment with us, we recommend staggering the whole-house inspection and the sewer line inspection appointment times, so that the examinations are not taking place simultaneously.

    Schedule Inspection Now

    Schedule Inspection Form (Weekend)

    Schedule Inspection

    INSPECTION SERVICES

    Click Here
    To View
    A Sample
    Inspection
    Report.

    Sanitary Infrastructure Consultants

    The cost of replacing or repairing a main sewer line can top $10,000 to $20,000. That is why it is critical for you to know the actual state of the sanitary infrastructure before purchasing a property or making repair decisions.

    Don’t let a high-pressure sales pitch force you into making an uninformed decision.

    A Mainline Inspection Services Examination includes:

    • A video inspection, conducted using state-of-the-art Ridgid SeeSnake® color cameras
    • A digital video of the examination
    • A written review of the inspection
    • A consultation on potential remedies, including cost estimates
    • Line location/sewer line mapping (This service is offered when specifically requested and might affect the duration and price of inspection)
    • A 30-day Revisit Rate Reduction — if Mainline Inspection Services begins an examination but is unable to finish because of problems with the line (obstructions, standing water, etc.) our technician will return for a second attempt at a complete sewer line inspection at a reduced price. This offer will be good for a period of 30 days.

    Just as businesses rely on the advice of expert consultants to avoid unnecessary and inflated expenses, you can rely on M.I.S. to disclose the condition of your sanitary infrastructure and storm water lines, and advise you on a full range of the most cost-effective repair and maintenance options.

    Gain the edge — contact Mainline Inspection Services before deciding on sewer line maintenance and repairs, real-estate purchases, etc.

    DIAGNOSES

    What an Inspection May Reveal

    Mainline Inspection Services provides real-time visual examination of sewer lines, downspouts, drains and other  pipes, in addition to offering sewer line location services. M.I.S. examinations evaluate the operating condition of the sewer line that extends from the building to the city main or septic tank—located in the street, yard or elsewhere. Our high-resolution color cameras assess the state of the pipes and enable our specialists to identify areas of concern including:

    • Root infiltration from trees and bushes which prevents normal flow and function, and leads to pipe damage.
    • Collapsed Pipe that requires repair or replacement.
    • Offset and/or leaking joints where joints in the line have become misaligned due to shifting soil or settling and allow water and waste to escape into the ground surrounding the line.
    • Broken, cracked or corroded pipe due to severe corrosion and age, or outdated and inferior material.
    • Blockages/restricted flow from blockages like grease buildup, sanitary products, debris, etc.
    • Bellied pipe where a valley or dip is created by inadequate soil conditions, resulting in sunken or leveled sections of pipe.
    • “Ovaled” pipe where the line is compressed and misshapen by soil pressure. Often due to the use of substandard material, this deformity can restrict flow and may be a sign of an eventual collapse.

    At the conclusion of the inspection, your fully insured Mainline Inspection Services technician will provide you with a video of your examination, a written review that details the inspection findings, and suggestions for how to approach repairs and maintenance. And because Mainline Inspection Services does not up-sell repair work or offer repair services, you can be certain that our examinations offer an honest, unbiased assessment of the condition of your sanitary system.

    WHY GET AN INSPECTION

    Why Get An Inspection?

    A thorough examination of a property’s sanitary infrastructure–especially its sewer line–is a vital step in the real estate investment process. Identifying problems before committing to the purchase of a property is essential, as sewer repairs can cost thousands of dollars. Educate and empower yourself today.

    A Mainline Inspection Services examination package includes the inspection, a video of the entire process, a written summary and a service consultation–all of which help disclose the condition of the line and provide important information to property owners and sellers.

    If the sewer line appears to be in good structural condition, but is obstructed by tree roots, gravel, paper products, grease, etc., it may be possible to clear the line with an auger or high-pressure water jet system. Augering typically costs between $100 and $300, while the cost of water-jet cleaning is usually $400 to $900, though prices can exeed this range depending on the condition of the line.

    If the inspection uncovers a collapsed, decayed or unstable pipe, then it will likely be necessary to repair or replace a portion of the line, and in some cases, the entire line.

    Insurance Concerns

    Most homeowners are unaware that they’re responsible for problems that occur in the sewer system running from their home to the street. A blockage in your sewer line can backup into your house, resulting in serious property damage, costly cleanups and the potential loss of irreplacable posessions.

    If your property is properly insured, many insurance companies will cover a first backup, though you will have to pay a deductible and your rates will likely increase following the incident. However, a second backup will likely not be covered and the insurer may choose to revoke your policy.

    SIGNS OF PROBLEMS

    Recognizable Signs of Sewer Problems

    Sewer problems often leave indicators which can be easily identified during a routine property inspection. Some of the most noticeable signs are:

    Water Staining

    Water stains around the basement floor drains are an obvious sign the sewer line is not draining properly. Because the floor drain is usually the lowest access point to the sewer, it provides some of the first indications of a sewer problem.

    Physical Damage

    Cracked walls or floors suggest movement of the foundation. Shifting foundations can be caused by excess water in the soil, which could be coming from a broken sewer line. Other obvious indications of damaged sanitary infrastructure are sink holes and sewage odors indoors and outdoors.

    Replaced “Clean Out” Plugs

    Sewer lines usually have a “clean out” access that is typically found on the main sewer line in the basement, crawl-space, or outside the house. Prior to the 1980’s, a brass “plug” was used in residential construction. If the original plug has been replaced, it’s likely that sewer work, such as auguring or chemical cleaning, has been required at some point.

    Notching of the PVC “Clean Out” Access

    The most common method of clearing an obstructed sewer line of roots/debris is with an auger, which is normally fed through a cleanout. The rotating cable that turns the blade of the auger will often grind on the pipe, creating a small, visible “groove” or “notch” in the PVC material, just inside the clean out. There may be indications of this in other pipe material, but likely most obvious in PVC plastic pipe.

    Service Labels

    The presence of service stickers on or near sewer pipes is another sign that the sanitary system has required maintenance at some point. These labels might also indicate that the property is on a “preventative maintenance” program for regular cleaning to prevent future backups.

    Outside “Clean Outs”

    An outside cleanout that is not original to the home is a possible indication that a spot repair was performed at some point, or that an additional, larger access point was required for regular maintenance, such as mechanical cleaning of the line.

    Trees

    Trees, especially large ones, near the area of the yard where the sewer line runs should always be cause for concern. This is especially true if it is known that the sanitary pipe is made from clay. Older clay pipe often has non-sealed joints every 3 feet or so (though this can vary some), which present an excellent opportunity for roots to get into and damage the pipe.

    ABOUT US

    Our Philosophy

    Mainline Inspection Services’ goal is to educate our customers about the condition of their properties’ sanitary infrastructure, giving them an advantage when making decisions about real estate purchases, maintenance and repairs.

    This philosophy is guided by both our entrepreneurial spirit and personal faith–we truly want to help our customers, not just to grow our business, but because it’s the right thing to do. By helping our clients avoid, identify and solve problems, we’re able to support our families and our community, which is proving to be a winning philosophy all the way around!

    Our Experience

    The Mainline Inspection Services team relies on decades of pipe fitting, plumbing and pipe inspection experience to inform and empower our clients. We’re constantly striving to improve the quality of our service through ongoing education and training that enables us to give our customers clear, concise and comprehensive analyses of their sanitary infrastructure.

    Contact us today and put our experience to work for you — 513-349-3357 or info@mainlineinspection.com

    Mainline Inspection Services Is Fully Insured

    BLOG

    BLOG

    Every Mile Begins With an Inch

    By: Patrick Hooper

    You’ve likely heard the radio ads, television commercials or seen the banners online–companies in any number of service industries offering “special deals” on maintenance, cleanings, checkups, inspections, free estimates, etc. These “special” deals can be offered for things such as heating & cooling systems, automobiles, chimneys, and even plumbing, to name a few. I heard one on the radio today offering sewer line cleanings (auguring) for less than $90. As a former estimator (salesperson) in the sewer repair/replacement industry, I have a pretty good idea of what the cost is of doing business–and $90 to snake a sewer line doesn’t leave much of a profit margin, especially for a large company with a lot of overhead–so why do they offer it?

    These companies, like any other business, are always looking for revenue generating opportunities. Offering these basic services at such a low rate helps to make the phone ring. Once the service technician is in the home performing the advertised service, they are also tasked with identifying other issues/problems and up-selling additional products and services.

    It is important to point out that there is nothing inherently unethical with this practice, just so long as any additional recommendations and services sold are honest and in good faith. However, as with anything else, there are “bad players” in just about any kind of business, and the service industry is certainly no exception. It isn’t hard to imagine how unscrupulous  companies can use such a tactic to “pad” revenue rather than doing what is in the best interest of their customer.

    We don’t watch or listen to a commercial or read an ad without realizing what the point of the ad is–to sell a product or service. As long as you understand that the purpose of these basic, discounted services is a way for companies to get their foot in their door for further sales opportunities–then you can be on your guard, be prepared to ask questions and even get additional opinions and estimates before moving forward with an unexpected service or repair recommendation.

     

     

    Just Say NO! to Thin-Walled PVC

    image-2014-05-19-11-48-01_4By: Patrick Hooper

    If you’ve read any of my blog or facebook posts about substandard pipe–which you can find here or here–you are aware of the serious problems associated with using weak, inferior pipe material for underground drain line.

    After having the front gutter on my house re-pitched (reversed) and a downspout added to accommodate the redirected storm water, about 40 feet of underground drainline needed to be installed to divert the storm water from our front yard to the back yard. After digging the trench, it was off to our local hardware store to purchase 40+ feet of 4-inch SCH 40 PVC pipe and fittings.

    Aimage-2014-05-19-11-52-22_17s I was loading the 10-foot lengths of SCH 40 pipe onto my cart, a  very nice and well-meaning  store employee approached me and asked what the pipe was for. When I told him I was laying an underground downspout  line–he pointed out that the thinner-walled PVC pipe at the the other end of the isle was made specifically to be used as downspout line and was also much cheaper. “Cheaper than what?“I thought to myself. Cheaper than having to dig it up and replace it after it collapses? Cheaper than repairing damage in the basement from storm water funneling to the foundation caused by a crushed and backed up downspout line?

    Of the hundreds of video inspections I’ve performed, I have never seen collapsed SCH 40 PVC–whether used as image-2013-09-30-10-37-57_7sanitary or storm/downspout line. Corrugated/flex pipe, thin-walled PVC, smooth, single- or double-walled PVC, etc.–all of which I see being used most of the time as downspout line– is more likely than not to be compromised at some point–if not fully collapsed.

    Does this mean you should not consider buying a home with thin-walled PVC downspout line? No, not necessarily. Unfortunately, cheaper, light-weight pipe material is very common, especially in newer construction. Should you hold out until you find a house that has SCH 40 or even SDR 35  PVC, you will likely be looking for some time.

    image-2013-04-05-10-26-10_16Builders/developers manage their expenses to keep their overheads low. Unless otherwise specified, they will likely use the least-expensive materials approved by construction code to maximize profits while making the houses as affordable as possible. To use an automobile analogy–when buying a house, it is not unreasonable to expect to have to eventually replace/upgrade some of the factory parts at some point. Contractors that offer to make those upgrades (repairs) and use the same substandard parts they are replacing may not have the best interest of their customers at heart.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I’ve heard the argument that as long as the weaker, thinner-walled pipe is installed correctly, it will be fine. Well, then nobody must know how to properly install this stuff because in my experience, failed thin-walled pipe is the rule, not the exception. But, I have yet to see broken or collapsed SCH 40 PVC.

    Downspout II

     

    Caveat Emptor—That’s Our Specialty

    By: Patrick Hooper

    When it comes to making a buck, there are those who will say anything to take your money from you. While this exists in most all walks of life, the sewer line repair industry can be among the most costly when it does occur.

    We often perform follow-up inspections for customers who have already received an assessment and  remediation quote from an estimator. Sometimes our inspections will validate those previous assessments, sometimes we validate while also offering additional and alternative—less-expensive options, and often times we expose unnecessary repair or replacement recommendations. Here are a few examples:

    Just Say No To The Backhoe!I received a call earlier this month from a customer who experienced two backups within a week–the only occurrences  since her 5 year old house was built.  She called a company to come auger the line. The  company did so through a floor drain instead of a cleanout with a 1/2-inch cable instead of the larger, standard 3/4-inch cable. Within a week her line backed up a again, so the company came back out to video the line, as well as auger it again. This company determined that the line was bellied and recommended that the floor be busted up and the line replaced, quoting a price of more than $5,000.

     

    When I arrived, I inspected the mainline through an outside cleanout and also through a pulled toilet. I tested the line by running water from the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and flushing the toilet. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the line. It was likely that the customer had what is known as a “soft clog” and because the company she called used a cable designed for 1- to 2-inch pipe rather than a cable designed for 4- to 6-inch sewer line, I suspect that the mainline was not completely cleared of all debris in the first attempt. No honest person who knew what they were doing would ever have recommended tearing up the floor to replace that mainline.

    Another example is when I was contacted by a very frustrated homeowner who had a floor drain in his basement that backed up when it rained. He had three different companies out to take a look. Of the three companies, none of them even attempted to diagnose the problem—all three just offered estimates to tear up the floor and replace the line, with quotes ranging between $7,000 to $12,000.

    Say No To The Backhoe #2I ran the camera through two different cleanout access points. Most of the line, though old and made of clay, looked to be in in good shape. The floor drain that was backing up was tied into a branch line that connected the outside downspout pipe to the interior mainline under the foundation (not unusual in older homes). The problem was a single ball of roots (between the mainline and the floor drain) that was causing the storm water to back up through the floor drain during heavy rain. The fix was easy and inexpensive, clear the line with an auger and follow up with a chemical treatment—a $300 to $400 remediation.

    Finally, one of my biggest pet peeves with underground drain line has to do with contractors using inferior pipe material—especially flex pipewhich in my experience, is the most common pipe material used for footer drains in new(er) construction. A customer contacted me to inspect the perimeter drain of his 7 year old house. When I lifted the cover off of the sump pump pit, I was pleasantly surprised to see 4 inch SCH 40 PVC pipe sticking through each side of the pit wall–which in my experience, is very unusual. However, when I put my camera into the line, it immediately transitioned to flex pipe in less than 6 inches. I can only conclude that the builder used  two short sections of pipe to create the impression that the much more durable and appropriate SCH 40 PVC was used as footer drain. This also tells me that the builder knew that the flex pipe is inferior pipe material. And yes, as is all too common, the line was  collapsed or collapsing in multiple locations.

    There are good, honest, hard-working contractors out there that do right by their customers. But as with all industries, you also have your bad players—and it can be difficult to weed out those bad players.

    Mainline Inspection Services does not provide repair services. We objectively inspect, assess and consult—that’s it.

    As the title says, Buyer Beware

    “Hodgepodge”—Unconventional Solutions for Drainage Problems

    By: Patrick Hooper

    Mainline Inspection Services strives to cover all the bases by consulting on all feasible remediation options for sewer, sanitary infrastructure, storm and all other water management and drainage problems. In addition to the more common fixes, there are also other, lesser known options that sometimes come up during a consultation. (more…)

    Spot Repair—Sometimes, Less Really is Less

    By: Patrick Hooper

    Mainline Inspection Services is an unbiased consultative company—not a sales organization. It is our job to visually inspect and objectively evaluate the condition of underground sewer and drain lines and advise our customers on the best, most cost-effective options for remediation.

    We recently performed an inspection for a customer who already had their sewer line looked at by an estimator from a different company that provides excavation and repair services. (more…)

    SCH 40 PVC PIPE—All the Time, Every Time!

    By: Patrick Hooper

    On my way to an inspection the other day, I pulled up alongside a pickup truck that was towing an excavator, and what appeared to be PVC drain pipe.After a closer look, I realized that the drain pipe this contractor was carrying—presumably to install underground for a customer—was Solid Smoothwall pipe, which is also called (more…)

    Dodging the “Sewer Repair Bullet” when Purchasing a Home

    By: Patrick Hooper

    This is an actual account of a main sewer line I recently inspected for a customer.

    My client had an offer on a house pending the sewer inspection. It was built in the 1940’s and was being renovated to be sold. Given the age of the home, there was concern about the condition of the lateral line that connected to the city main. (more…)

    Hold Your Horses—One Inspection at a Time

    By: Patrick Hooper

    As a consultative company, we pride ourselves on our honesty and objectivity. In fact, we like to say that “We Get Paid to be Honest”—even though sometimes, we don’t.

    Our consulting service doesn’t only begin after a customer agrees to hire M.I.S., but the moment they contact us. (more…)

    FLEX PIPE! What is it good for?

    By: Patrick Hooper

    In addition to sewer lines and sanitary infrastructure, M.I.S. also performs inspections on footer drains  (a.k.a. foundation, perimeter or curtain drains) and downspout lines. The kind of pipe used for sewer lines is pretty standard, normally SDR 35 or SCH 40 PVC for newer construction and clay or concrete in older homes. On the other hand, the type of pipe used for the management of ground and storm water can vary—with one of the most common types used (in my experience) being flexible drain pipe/“flex pipe.” (more…)