Can this be real? $700 drip

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by exj625, Oct 8, 2007.

  1. exj625

    exj625 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Looking for anyone's thoughts on this....
    We live in northern california (sacramento area), and called out a plumber (from a well known, larger outfit) to fix two leaks.
    Drip 1 - drip at the threads of a 1" copper thread fitting to 1" PVC thread fitting (see pic - lower left corner) - Quote: $200
    Drip 2 - drip between two 3/4" couplings which would entail replacement from the T that goes into the house, the main valve (red), and probably the 90 elbow. (see pic) Quote: $500

    So the total was $700! I have done my own plumbing fixes for several years, including two full bathroom remodels; but I finally decided that I didn't have the time right now. But wow, is this really what it should cost? I'm all for paying good rates to good contractors, but Drip 1 would only entail cutting the vertical copper pipe, tightening the leaky threads add a coupling, and sweat; would it take more than 1 hour for a pro?

    Drip 2 would be a bit more challenging, no doubt, with more joints to fit and sweat.

    I was expecting to pay $200-300. Figuring <$50 for parts, $50 for the service call, and 2-3 hours of work at anywhere from 75-100/hr. Am I way off?

    Unfortunately I wasn't home, so my wife was there to talk to the guy, who, incidentally gave her the "preferred discount" hahah. I also wonder if he was overpricing because he didn't like to sweat pipes and wanted to move to the next job.

    So, should I get another quote? or plan to spend Saturday with my favorite propane torch... (oh, and incidentally, should I replace the main valve with a gate or ball valve?)


    Thanks for any comments.
    Ed

    Attached Files:

  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,537
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    $700

    Leak #1 just needs an elbow and a threaded PVC nipple, not a male adapter. About 5 minutes.

    Leak #2 remove the couplings and stub from the tee, and everything including the elbow. Install two pieces of copper with a good ball valve and a new elbow, maybe one hour, depending on whether there are any problems removing the stub from the tee.

    No different than what we run into every day, and would love to be able to charge $700.00 for doing it, although we might not get any repeat business from the customer. Your problem is calling a nationally franchised plumber/drain cleaner plumber.
  3. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,339
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    Is that backflow preventer to an irrgation system or whole house?
  4. tonykarns

    tonykarns In the Trades

    Messages:
    82
    Location:
    wisconsin
    5 minutes?

    There is no such thing as a 5 minute job.
    1. Get parts
    2. Travel time
    3. Get tools from truck
    4. Repair problem
    5. Put tools away
    6. Write invoice

    $700.00 is however excessive in my humble opionion
  5. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    I also think $700.00 is an excessive fee...call around and if you can find a company that doesn't pay its employees a % of the call you should get a better rate...
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,537
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    job

    5 minutes to do the work. The rest of it depends on how fast he drives, whether he walks fast or limps to the jobsite and back to the truck, and whether he can write or has to print the invoice.
  7. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    You could probably fix that first one by releasing that union, unscrewing the female adapter from the PVC, add some new pipe dope and Teflon tape, and put it back together. You can probably fix it yourself in less time than it would take to call the plumber.
  8. exj625

    exj625 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Thanks for the feedback, guys!

    cwhyu2 - the bfp is for an irrigation system which runs off through the PVC. I installed it (and the irrigation), with the help of this forum this past summer. o'course it happens that the copper joint that is leaking is not the one I touched when doing the bfp....however, I'm guessing that by adding on the bfp, it may have added some stress to the other side of the T where it failed. As soon as I get this fixed, I'm going to secure the whole thing down.

    bob - yup, I considered doing that - however....that whole bfp and union mess took me a _very_ long time to get together without leaking; actually, it leaked for a couple days (i was too frustrated to look at it), and then it magically stopped, so I'm reluctant to take it apart again. THe problem I had was that it's heavy, and there was no good way to mount it real secure so that I could get the unions lined up nicely. and not having a lot of experience, I really didn't want to screw up that bfp ($$).

    tonkykarns - yup - I agree, no 5 min jobs. they've got bills to pay as well, so I don't mind paying a reasonable rate for their time doing the things you mentioned.
  9. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Messages:
    836
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    $700.00 I bet the guy was in a good mood. I think with the set up you have the price is more than fare. I would also not forget to think of the cost of phone book adds and driving to and from the job and the labor.
  10. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    An hour labor and less than $20 in materials.

    You do the math.


    It's not like it's electrical work or anything difficult :)
  11. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    I'd owe $20 for doing this job.
    Simple math tells me the amount of time it takes me to do this job would be in the negatives as this thread progresses.
  12. Furd

    Furd Engineer

    Messages:
    446
    Location:
    Wet side of Washington State
    Do I understand correctly that nothing is supporting that backflow preventer in the first photo but the connecting piping? It really needs to be supported independent of the piping.

    Unless the PVC thread adapter is cracked (quite possible if it is supporting the BFP) disconnecting the union and unthreading, retaping and doping (use a teflon dope approved for PVC) and reassembly should take care of that leak.

    I would also replace those galvanized nipples with brass or bronze. In fact, after I properly secured the BFP I would likely repipe the whole darn thing with PVC. :rolleyes:

    It is also a good idea to keep the dust caps in place on the test cocks.
  13. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,339
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    Bfp

    It might be a good ideal to install before and after the BFP the ones that came with it are for testing only.Ball valves should installed to isolate and
    not use the ones that came with it.Put the caps back on as to debris
    will cause an improper reading.I think that is to high of a price to repair
    2 IPS leaks.
  14. exj625

    exj625 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Thanks, cwhyu2; i'll put the caps back on! I'll have to look to see if I have room for an additional ball valve on either side; i think it will be a bit tight. When I read the instructions that it must be isolated, I assumed the valves included were intended for that purpose. Thanks for correcting me.

    Furd (or anyone) - could you suggest a proper way which you'd support this thing independent of the piping? what you say makes sense and probably would have made the original job much easier for me, but not sure the best approach since it's not flat on the back and is darn awkward; would you build up a wooden frame and use pipe straps? drive something into the ground and somehow attach? I just can't picture a good solution. Eventually I'll put a wooden box around the thing to hide it.

    Maybe replacing the run w/ pvc is the right idea... That's why I like this place - lots of ideas!

    thanks -
    ed
  15. theelviscerator

    theelviscerator New Member

    Messages:
    72
    Location:
    Elkhart, IN
    I thought rule of thumb was 3 quotes anyways.......

    But looking at that I guess I just saved myself about 5000 dollars replumbing and installing all new plumbing to my laundry and running dedicated circuits with ground to replace the old stuff non grounded circuits.

    Just do it yourself, and buy something worth 700 for yourself...new flat panel for the kitchen or something....hehe.
  16. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,339
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    Ok to support your BFP try mounting cast iron wall flanges to your walls
    then all thred 3/8 all thred rod to clamps to your piping.Iknow this is confusing
    but look around and you will find something.Still typing with one hand.
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,537
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    valves

    Those ball valves are adequate for isolation purposes also. you should not even have PVC above the ground where it can be damaged or exposed to sunlight.
  18. Wet_Boots

    Wet_Boots Sprinkler Guy

    Messages:
    798
    Location:
    Metro NYC
    Replace the galvanized nipples with brass. Cut the copper about six inches away from the connection to the PVC. Add a coupling, some pipe, and an elbow, plus the pipe-and-adapter you cut off, to make it all copper into the ground. Then connect the PVC, and use a PVC union to simplify the job. The added copper will mean the weight of the RPZ and pipe is resting on copper, and not on PVC. That will make RPZ support bracing less necessary.
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2007
  19. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    You can put two shelf brackets on that wall, set to support the pipes on each end of the BFP. You can attach the pipes to the shelf brackets with U-Bolts or pipe clamps of some kind.

    Aside: Those steel form-ties sticking out of the foundation are usually designed to be broken off just inside the surface, and the hole is filled with mortar.
  20. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,341
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    My irrigation set up is essentially the same as yours except mine is below the surface. My supply is teed from the 1" mainline from the meter, through a stop and waste valve then up to the BFP. After the BFP, I go with 1" copper down to the PVC pipe that goes to the manifold. I have never felt the need to do any kind of support, but I would not rely on PVC pipe as a support. As noted by others, PVC should always be below ground.
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