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How much would it cost to remove concrete from drains?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ November 11, 2013 ~ No Comments » | Respond to this question

We were thinking of buying a foreclosed home, but we think the previous owner may have poured concrete in the toilet, tub, and possibly the water main. The home also has a concrete slab. How much could it cost to repair?

-Melissa

Jeffrey Anderson

Melissa, unless they are practically giving this house away, my advice would be to look for another home to purchase. In my opinion, repairing a plumbing leak that's below the concrete slab in a finished house can be one of the worst issues that can arise for a homeowner. Locating where the water is escaping is pretty much guesswork and the only way to be sure is to cut the concrete, use a jackhammer to break the section to be removed into pieces, and then dig down through the gravel to the pipe. If the leak isn't there, then you start all over in a different spot.

Keep in mind that this is all done in rooms that have floor coverings, painted walls, and in some cases cabinets and furniture. Cutting and jackhammering concrete creates an unbelievable amount of very greasy dust that sticks on everything and is extremely difficult to remove. Then there is the gravel - it must be removed from the trenches and placed in piles on the concrete slab to access the pipe. While carpeting can usually be pulled back and then reused, hardwood and vinyl flooring often must be completely replaced in the areas being disturbed and sometimes in the entire room.

The drain lines in the house you're considering may not be leaking, but removing the concrete damaged pipe will entail the same process. I'm not aware of any way to dissolve concrete in plumbing pipes once it has hardened. That means that if the concrete has gotten down into the pipes under the slab, in all likelihood the sections affected must be removed and new pipe installed. The contractor doing the work would start at the various fixtures and work toward where the sewer main enters the house.

Eventually all of the drain lines will come together into one pipe but until that happens, there will be several trenches. Once they reach a point where the lines or line is clear, I would suggest going a little bit farther just to ensure the next section of pipe is free of concrete. Even a little stuck in a pipe joint could eventually cause a clog when waste is flowing through the line.

As you can imagine, all of this cutting, jackhammering, and pipe replacement can cost quite a bit and that's only a part of the total job cost. The concrete will need to be poured back and that is going to be a very labor intensive job. The contractor will have to wheelbarrow the concrete into the house from the outside. Then in all likelihood there will be painting that must be done, new flooring covering installed, and someone is going to have to do a lot of cleaning.

I don't believe you are going to find a contractor who will give you a set price to do the job unless they make it so high that it should cover any contingency. They are probably going to want to work by the hour, and when materials are added in those costs can add up very quickly. If you're getting the house for next to nothing, it might be worth it, but if not, I recommend you keep looking for a home to purchase.

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