When we get a call for an estimate on a large project we always let the customer know up front that we don’t do free estimates except for over the phone. They will understand that if your a company then you are usually booked up for at least a week and some times longer than that. So if they want us to visit the job site and figure a fairly close estimate that we have to charge a service call for the estimate. Although if they like the price we gave them and they want us to start on the job while we are there. We won’t charge them for the estimate. It stands to reason if we don’t have to make another trip to do the work then it saves us our time and money and we will pass this savings on to our customers. Like a job we did the other day. We sent our guys to the job site to give an estimate on a leak in the basement. When they arrived they diagnosed the leak. It was on their main drain stack. The four inch cast iron pipe where the stack came from upstairs all the down to where it went through the floor in the basement. Which is a concrete slab. The leak was actually on the drain stack right were it enters the concrete slab floor. This meant we would have to break out the concrete slab and follow the four inch cast iron drain line until they found good pipe again that wasn’t rotted out to tie onto. We gave the customer the estimate and they agreed on the price and said to proceed with the repair. Now an estimate like this is always a rough estimate for the basic reason we cannot see under the concrete slab floor and would not be able to say how far we will have to break out the concrete slab floor to repair the old rusted out cast iron piping. We can always run a camera in and some times you can see the issue but they are not always 100% accurate and there is an additional charge of three hundred dollars just to run the camera so we try to let the customer know up front that it would probably be an expense they should not incur. Since we have to bust out the concrete anyway. (Most other plumbers will tell the customer they need to run the camera to see the issue so they can just go ahead and charge the three hundred more dollars). At this point we will usually leave one tech on the job to start breaking up the old concrete slab floor and cutting the old cast iron piping out of the way so they can replace it with new PVC. This no easy task. The cast iron pipe has be cut with either a cast iron cutter or diamond saw blades. The cast iron cutters consist of what looks like a motorcycle chain with cutter blades attached to it and a ratcheting handle that will wrap around the cast iron piping and clamp on to it. Then you use the ratcheting handle to slowly ratchet down the chain and cutters until it snaps off the pipe. Usually leaving a nice clean cut. You also have to be very careful with the old pipe. Cast iron cutters are most definitely the easiest way to cut the cast iron pipe but if the pipe is to old you could end up crushing or cracking the pipe on down the line. Then you will end up cutting out more pipe trying to fix what you broke and it could turn into a real problem. Sometimes you can not use the cast iron cutters because they are fairly large and the won’t fit into all of the areas you are trying to cut and repair. This is when you have to use the diamond saw blades. They are very expensive and require a lot more time to cut. It is a lot more work and extremely hard to cut the cast iron with the diamond blades. It will basically wear your tail out quick. Then when we get a good clean cut we will usually tie on to the cast iron piping with a no hub fitting on each end of the pipe and run new PVC in between. The no hub fitting consist of a rubber connector with a stainless steel sleeve to go around it. The stainless steel sleeve is held tight with two large hose clamps and it makes a very strong connection compared to a rubber cantex adapter which is rubber with a hose clamp on each end to hold it place. Its a good connection but a no hub is a better connection by far. After the repair is done and all connections are tested for leaks we will then repack the dirt and sand above it. (This very important to make sure the concrete does not crack in the future). Mix the new concrete. Usually using sackcrete or ready mix concrete. Trying to mix it as dry as possible (This will allow for a quicker finishing time) and then pour the wet concrete back into the hole over the repacked sand. Trying to fill in any voids. Level out the concrete and float it down smooth with a hand float. Then it has to dry more until you can trowel it. Troweling is the last part of the finish job and makes it as smooth as the old concrete it is poured next to. All we have to do now is clean up our mess, load up our tools which I might add are covered with concrete so you have to wash them immediately or it is on there for good. That is it. It just has to dry over night before being walked on. In the end we will always try to keep our customers 100% satisfied.
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