Roof Vent Pipe, Help Please

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by DavidD, Jul 15, 2007.

  1. DavidD

    DavidD New Member

    Messages:
    14
    I am pretty sure our vent pipe is obstructed. I can't see what exactly it is (too far down, but must still be above where the upstairs toilet joins as that still flushes. I don't know if it is bird, squirrel, etc.)

    Is there a safe way for me to remove the obstruction without great risk of pushing it down further?

    I am not opposed to having a professional do the job but have no idea how much a typical plumber would charge. What would some of you plumbers charge (and what part of the country are you?) We are in Northeast Indiana, if anyone is close.

    If hiring a professional is the way to go, I will make calls this week. But, I wanted to get an idea of the price/cost first.

    Thanks!

    DavidD
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,641
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    vent

    The cost will depend on how long it takes and that depends on what, if anything, is in the vent and where it is.
  3. MPM will probably tell you that 3" is not required as VTR in the state. If you have 1.5" or 2" sticking through the roof, and your roof is a 9/12 or 12/12 pitch, expect hazard pay for the work to be done to unobstruct the vent.
  4. DavidD

    DavidD New Member

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    14
    Good info. Never hired a plumber before. What is the typical mid-west hourly rate (range)? Is there an outdoor rate that is different than indoor? I am sure most of the plumbers have done a few of these. Is this a ten minute job - or at least less than 1 hour (1 hour minimum charge) or a 2-3 hour job (typically)?

    I don't know the pitch of the roof, but it strikes me as a little steep. Probably would get charged hazard pay. How much more does this typically add on (double rate, 1.5x rate, rate plus $10, etc)?

    I didn't measure the pipe, but it is larger than 1.5 - 2 in. Probably 3-4 inch. It is located along the driveway side of the house, maybe 4 feet in past the roof line (gutter), on a 2nd story roof.

    Thanks for your help!

    DavidD
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2007
  5. DavidD

    DavidD New Member

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    14
    Regarding my question about typical mid-west rate range... I am not looking for specifics necessarily.

    I don't know if plumbers charge $30/hr, or $75/hr or $150-200/hr.

    Main focus with this: 1hour x $30/hr = $30 job; 3hrs x $200/hr = $600 job. Big range! Just trying to get an idea.
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

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    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Why don't you call a couple of locals and ask them?
  7. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

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    Licensed Grump

    BRILLIANT!
  8. DavidD

    DavidD New Member

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    Did I not say this in my first post? What is the point of this forum if I can't run things by people first who are NOT interested in getting my money?

    Please read the posts before making such 'BRILLIANT' comments.

    I've already admitted my ignorance on the matter, which makes me a prime candidate to be taken advantage of. Pretty pointless to have a forum to help, when no help is offered.

    DavidD
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2007
  9. a forum is good to have, when you are unsure about things. For example, how do you "know" that the vent is obstructed? That might be worth discussing. Your skill at diagnosing may not be up to the task; you might pay for an expert to do something that then turns out to be the wrong thing to do, or not enough, or whatever. Far better to get experts in to perform both stages, 1. querying, probing, and diagnosis, and then 2. recommendation of one or more solutions, and execution of the agreed-upon one.

    As for pricing, you can certainly find out locally what range you are in by talking to friends and neighbors; you do have some. No-one in this forum (or in other forums, AFAIK) likes to name prices because so many things can vary regionally and depend on the scope of the work -- which is not defined yet regardless of the few questions answered so far. The first response, from hj, said a lot in a few words. It could be argued that everything he didn't say didn't need to be said.

    Some threads sit without any responses for several days. Yours got a lot of posts. When no-one answers a specific question, and you ask again, you haven't struck any taboos, but the answer you got was fair and I wouldn't mind hearing you thank the forum.

    When one person then posts something sarcastic, you can certainly extrapolate and blame the whole forum, but I wouldn't recommend blaming everyone, assuming you will listen to me.

    I did say above that you can ask friends and neighbors; there is an easy quip coming from anyone with a sarcastic mind, and here it is : "Assuming you have friends" Glad we got that out of the way.

    David :)
  10. run it by us.

    I like helping persistent people who are able to figure out what they don't know and what they need to know. If people call themselves ignorant in certain matters, that is fine by me.

    Plumbers will state their hourly rates when you call them on the phone. It's not a big deal.

    David
  11. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

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    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    I read the posts before hand.
    That was humor, intended for Gary's note on the obvious.
    Put the gun down...no need to shoot me.
    Also, I am a plumber, I get these calls all the time "Can you give me a quick price on remodelling my home over the phone?"
    You can definitely get an hourly rate on the phone, but there's no possible way to tell you how long it'll take...it could be a pile of dried leaves, it could be some mangled piece of metal thats hooked onto the sides of the pipe, my guess...something more in the line of leaves.
  12. DavidD

    DavidD New Member

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    14
    Thank you, geniescience and others who responded.

    "The first response, from hj, said a lot in a few words. It could be argued that everything he didn't say didn't need to be said."

    Others did add very useful information, to which I did reply, "Good info." I didn't want to say thank you till the end so as not to imply I didn't want anymore information. I didn't know anything about hazard pay, although I still don't know how much it could amount to. I understand that folks don't want to quote money, but asking for an approximate range, I didn't think was out of line. Regardless of the regional hourly rate, I also thought it was fair to have someone more clearly define hazard pay. 1.5x normal rate, doesn't disclose anything too specific, but gives me a very good idea as to what to expect. But if no one wants to tell me any approximations, that's fine.

    I have spoken to friends, neighbors and family. Most of whom do for themselves and have never called a plumber. I would rather do this for myself, which is why I also asked about how to safely do it. No one has made any suggestions though. If I knew a snake would retrieve it and not push it down further, making it even more costly to retrieve, I would surely try that.

    About diagnosis, my friend who helped me first, didn't think that the vent was obstructed. We tried several things, none of which worked. I did have a diagnosis discussion in this forum earlier. No consensus was reached - which is hard to do not having it in front of you. My dad was over recently and he is pretty convinced that it is in fact obstructed. I agree with the points that he made, and am reasonably sure that the problem is in fact due to a vent pipe obstruction.

    In my diagnosis discussion, I stated that the problem happened all of a sudden, in the middle of winter. So, I don't think it is a leaf buildup, but rather a bird/nest or squirrel. Here & now, I did not restate all of the diagnosis info, but did theorize that it was an animal. It seemed reasonable to me that for someone who does this type of job fairly routinely might be able to tell me if it 'usually' takes less than one hour or multiple hours to remove an animal. But then again, I still don't know the normally used method(s) used to remove obstructions. Is it one method for leaves and another method for dead squirrel? A combination method for bird/nest?

    I am not the expert, so I don't know all the right questions to ask. Thanks to all who have helped and/or might respond further.

    DavidD
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2007
  13. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    You can expect to pay a plumber anywhere from about 60 to about 150 an hour; depends on your location, etc.

    Some outfits, in some places (like Manhattan) will charge a lot more than that, I've seen 250/hr (but only once).

    Some will charge you for travel time, some won't.
  14. DavidD

    DavidD New Member

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    14
    Well, I called several plumbers today. A couple gave me an estimated flat rate for the job, both around $275. Another gave a $65 service and $80/hr with 2 guys because of the second story (I understood this then to be $160/hr). Two methods were spoken of as I understood them: An augur (removal) operated by 300lb machine. Difficult and expensive to get up on a second story; and Power washing (forcing it through).

    Knowing these 2 methods, I chose to try my own hand at it. Took my Rigid professional portable 4 gallon shop vac up, ran the hose down, sucked up a bunch of stuff. No leaves, no squirrel. Mostly about 3.5 cups of rusted cast iron chips. There was 1 bird skeleton and 1 walnut. There appeared to be a bend in the pipe where the stuff accumulated. Checked the toilet flush and there was basically no air gurgle (got air through the stack instead of the bowl). I don't have a power washer, but put the garden hose with sprayer attachment down and did a final flush. If I need to, the neighbor has one I can borrow... just as soon as they get it back from their daughter... Checked the toilet flush - nearly perfect. I am not saying that professionals could not get it better, but I got it good enough in less than 1/2 hour and without a 300 lb machine.

    DavidD
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2007
  15. frenchie

    frenchie Jack of all trades

    Sweet! Shopvacs are the greatest thing (I can actually remember the days before shopvacs)... it's like there's always another use I never thought of.
  16. FloridaOrange

    FloridaOrange Plumbing Designer

    Messages:
    1,317
    Location:
    SW Florida
    +1! I suggested in another thread to clean out the condensate line with a shop vac. I had a clog in my condensate (under slab) last year that I cleared that way.
  17. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Now that your problem seems to have been resolved, and that is good, here is another Pro/DIY question to be considered:

    Do you owe anything to the plumber who mentioned the method you used?

    Personally, I can understand why some Pros are quite tight-lipped about how they do things ... as in "Loose lips sink ships!"
  18. DavidD

    DavidD New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Well, actually no one mentioned the shopvac method. My own ingenuity came up with that. I don't think that keeping methods a secret is really an issue. There are dozens of DIY television programs and countless books that disclose the best methods for getting things done. Is it wrong to have all of these? NO, of course not. In my opinion, service professionals are largely there to do for those who can't or won't do for themselves. Don't want to paint your own house, hire a house painter. He'll charge you an arm and a leg, but you won't have to spend the time & effort to get the job done. I think that most of us have a pretty good idea how to apply paint, but many of us don't want to and can afford to hire someone to do it for us. Personally, I like to paint. And no, I am not a house painter.

    I am not an avid reader of this forum, as I am not a plumber and have few plumbing needs. But in the threads I have read, someone is asking the best 'method' for getting something done or fixed. "How to solder correctly", for example. Shhhhh, better not tell, he should just hire a plumber. How about, "Repair Fitting for ABS Pipe," Shhhhh, better not tell, he should just... oops, now he won't call a plumber. :eek:

    I am very thankful for all those who responded and helped me. So, thanks to you all.

    DavidD
  19. GrumpyPlumber

    GrumpyPlumber Licensed Grump

    Messages:
    1,404
    Location:
    Licensed Grump
    When I first went self employed I had a potential customer call me and ask what materials I use, pipe sizes and how I'd install it.
    I took the bait, spent a half hour of my time explaining it to him, I thought he was looking to ensure I use quality stock.
    He never called back after that.
  20. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Please pardon me for missing that detail, and please know I was not being critical of you.

    Agreed, and my question was simply about any obligation for any presence or lack of willingness on the part of a Pro to reveal, share or suggest how something might be done.

    Agreed again, and I can imagine some Pros are rightly paid well for helping to produce them.

    Sure.

    Yes, and as Grumpy has noted from an experience in a different setting, that is a difficult decision any Pro might face from one day to the next.
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