4 Reasons Why Your Sewer Repair Estimate May Vary from Your Bill

Posted by William Heinselman on Jan 18 2017

The planned cost of a sewer repair solution might vary somewhat from the actual cost of that solution.There’s a common stereotype about plumbers charging way too much for their services, or making up the charges that get put on the final bill. This misconception is only made worse when the final bill so often ends up being significantly more than the initial cost estimate on the plumber’s website.

While we can’t speak for every other plumbing company out there, in the majority of cases, there’s usually a good reason why the final bill for plumbing services might vary from your initial sewer repair estimate:

1: Your Repair Requires More Material Than Initially Estimated

There are a lot of cases out there where the “estimate” you get online for sewer repair is an average cost that makes an assumption of how much pipe needs repair/replacement.

However, if the sewer line or pipe being fixed is larger than that online estimate assumes, the cost for parts will go up. Also, if other sections of the pipeline are damaged, then they’ll need to be fixed too, which drives up the amount of labor and material needed to do the job right.

2: Excavation of the Pipe Takes Longer Than Estimated

For traditional sewer line repair solutions, the pipe that is being repaired/replaced has to be exposed first. Estimating the time and labor needed for this task is very difficult without a direct, eyes-on assessment of your property.

Things like statuary, sidewalks, and trees can interfere with the excavation process needed to unearth the pipe. Until the plumber takes a look at your property and sees where the pipe runs, how deep it is, and what’s between that pipe and the surface, the labor estimate for excavation will not be very accurate.

For trenchless repairs, however, this is rarely an issue.

3: The Repair Requires Special Tools

In most cases, the plumber will have all of the tools they need to get the job done when they arrive at your door. However, some jobs may end up requiring extra equipment to be completed.

For example, when working in especially loose or sandy soil, a plumber excavating the pipe may need to bring extra barriers to keep the soil from shifting too much. Or, a plumber that was planning on using one trenchless solution to fix the pipe may find out that the solution won’t work because of the soil or a completely collapsed pipe.

This can affect your final bill a little or a lot by adding extra labor and material costs.

4: Plumber Overtime

A major challenge in estimating the cost of a repair job is that it is all too easy for the work to fall behind schedule. Relatively minor issues can make a particular job take longer than estimated—which can drive up the costs for a sewer repair job.

The impact of plumber overtime varies from one plumbing company to the next. Some plumbing service providers (such as Express Sewer & Drain) don’t charge overtime for any plumbing repair job, while others might charge for labor by the hour.

Making Costs More Predictable

It’s important to keep in mind that most plumbers want to give you the most accurate estimate possible. You can help make sure the estimates you get are accurate by:

  • Shopping Around. You don’t have to take the first estimate for repair that you get. Shopping around with multiple plumbers can help you establish what the average cost for your repair should be, and how realistic the first estimate you got was.
  • Getting a Full Inspection. Some plumbers might try to remotely diagnose your problem by having you answer a couple of basic questions online or over the phone. However, these “estimates” cannot account for everything. Getting someone to physically visit your property and assess things in person helps ensure a much more accurate estimate.
  • Using Trenchless Repairs. Many of the unexpected costs for a traditional sewer line repair center around the need to dig up the pipe before replacing it. Trenchless solutions eliminate the need to unearth pipe, removing a lot of the associated time and labor cost variables.

Even with a good estimate, there is always a chance that something unforeseen might crop up that drives the cost for your repairs up. However, by being aware of the common reasons why your estimate might vary from your final bill, you can be better prepared.

Get a free, reliable estimate from an experienced Sacramento plumbing company today!

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Topics: Water Bills, Repairs, Leaks, Pressure, trenchless sewer repair, Sewer Repair, plumbing estimates

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