Incidents of backed up sewers keep increasing at an alarming rate of three percent annually. Blocked sanitary, and pipe breaks and insufficient capacity from aging sewer systems are responsible for 62 percent of these accidents which can cost an average homeowner thousands of dollars in damage to floors, electrical systems, walls, and furniture. These homeowners are included in the 80 percent of property owners using the municipal sewage system in the US but fail to maintain their sewer lateral-that is, the drainage pipe connecting their home sewage system to the city sanitary sewer main.
On the other hand, the approximately 20 percent homes using septic systems are also not immuned to drainage system problems. An estimated 10-20 percent of these septic drainage systems will also fail at some point in their operational lifetimes. Similarly, these drainage failures will be caused by poor maintenance, aging infrastructure, inappropriate design, and system overload. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that at least 23,000 to 75,000 sanitary sewer overflows occur in America every year.
As drainage systems issues are advanced plumbing problems best left to trained professional plumbers or drainage engineers near you who understand the industry standard and your municipal drainage system and laws. To be assured that you are hiring the right drainage system contractor nearby for your job, here are a few questions to ask:
Professional drainage system contractors practicing in the United States typically hold either a master plumbing license or a college degree in drainage or civil engineering. Plumbers are required to be licensed in the state, county, or city where they ply their trade. Only Pennsylvania, New York, Kansas, Wyoming, and Nebraskado not have a state-level licensing requirement for these tradesmen. However, California has a specific licensing requirement for drainage system contractors. A show of license is an attestation to your drainage system contractor’s proficiency in handling the intricacies of a drainage system and its associated problems.
Hence, it is expedient to see a copy of your contractor’s license or degree before committing the job to them. Note, you may run the risk of paying a fine for hiring an unlicensed contractor near you in jurisdictions where licensure is mandatory. To confirm the status of the license provided by a drainage system contractor, you may contact the local licensing department, state department of labor or the issuing organization.
Drainage system contractors suffer hundreds of occupational injuries yearly caused by prolonged work time in enclosed areas invaded by mold growing from leaking pipes. In 2017, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 730 occupational injuries among septic tank and sewer pipe contractors. The occupational casualties recorded for these professionals in the following years were 270 and 200 for 2018 and 2019 respectively.
Hence, hiring a drainage system contractor who is insured protects you from financial liabilities if the contractor or any of the apprentices or co-workers gets injured on the job. A contractor should have both general liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance at the very least. You can verify the insurance status by requesting a copy of the contractor's insurance certificate.
In a similar vein, it is important to ask your contractor if they are properly bonded. Hiring a bonded contractor protects you in certain contractor-related financial circumstances. For instance, if a contractor fails to complete a job according to the pre-agreed conditions, or fails to pay co-workers, bonding will exempt you from any liabilities. Always ask for proof of bonding and details of the organization that provided the bond. Any bonding information provided by a bonding contractor can be verified with the organization providing the bond.
Though the contractor may be operating their business near you, do not take it for granted to verify the insurance or bonding claims.
Proper drainage is important when it comes to maintaining a structure's foundation. You want to keep as much moisture as possible away from your home. There are four major types of drainage systems and it is important to pick the right one for your structure. These include:
- Residential Drainage Systems: These are useful for removing excess water from residential areas. They help prevent mold, mildew, rotting, and structural damage by whisking water away from driveways, walkways, and roofs.
- Surface Drainage Systems: Surface drainage systems contain shallow ditches which are dug in parallel patterns. These ditches serve as canals for run-off water by leading water into the main drain to avoid flooding.
- Subsurface Drainage Systems: Also referred to as french drains, subsurface drainage systems are placed under the top layer of soil to remove excess water at the root level. A subsurface drainage system uses a large collector drain to collect water from underground pipes.
- Slope Drainage Systems: Slope drains are used to allow water to flow downward from a structure through pipes moving down a slope.
- Downspout and Gutter Systems: These systems collect water from gutters and divert it to the ground. A downspout is usually attached to a gutter system on a building and diverts water away from the roof to the ground. The diversion is done on a slope to ensure that the water does not pool at the base.
These drainage systems reveal variations for different purposes; hence, hiring a contractor near you who specializes in the type fitting for your project should be top priority.
Although a drainage system contractor may have to carry out an initial assessment before providing a proper answer, you should not forget to ask the number of workers who will be involved in your drainage system job. In cases where there has been a blockage, the contractor may work alone. However, in large-scale scenarios such as fresh installations, removal of obstructing tree roots or multiple blockages, a contractor will likely have to bring along some co-workers to help on the job. You should ensure that each worker involved is insured and bonded. That way, if an injury occurs or if the job is not adequately handled, you are financially protected.
A warranty is a guarantee or a promissory note issued by a manufacturer or workman covering a repair or replacement if necessary within a particular period of time. Issuing a warranty shows that a contractor vouches for the integrity and durability of their work. Hence, you should always ask any drainage system contractor near you if they are willing to offer any guarantee on the service provided. Generally, drainage system contractors are willing to offer up five years of warranty on any defect consequent upon their workmanship.
If the contractor will be purchasing any replacement products or materials, you should also insist that such products are covered by warranties. Pipes and other drainage equipment come with manufacturer’s warranty covering defects upon good installation. Some contractors may be inclined to issue warranties verbally, however, you insist on obtaining written warranties where possible. Verify that you are comfortable with the terms of the warranty and that they are clearly stated.
In many cases where you need to carry out routine drainage maintenance on your property, you do not need a permit. However, if the work involves changing any structure on your property, electrical work to install a sump pump, drainage line replacements, re-piping, sewer replacements, or moving existing plumbing to a different location, then a permit may be necessary.
Drainage system works sometimes involve plumbing works. When that happens, you need to consider permit requirements in your area. There are national plumbing codes to help standardize the work done by plumbers. However, county and state regulations must be strictly adhered to for work to start. Hence, you should contact local building authorities to verify if a permit will be required to carry out your drainage work. Note that you can be fined for carrying out a project before obtaining the required permit. Hiring a licensed contractor near you will also stand you in good stead as these qualified individuals are well informed as to what kind of drainage works require a permit in your area. If a permit is required, a licensed contractor usually includes the cost in their bill estimates.
One of the most widely used and trusted means of checking out a contractor is getting reviews from previous clients. These are people who have had direct experience with the contractor you intend to hire. Checking out referrals from past customers is a crucial step when considering a contractor for hire. The referrals should be recent and should be for jobs similar to what you intend to fix. You may ask the prospective contractor to give you references for similar past jobs they have completed or check online from popular sites such as Yelp, Google Review, and Better Business Bureau for reviews of clients near you. When checking out reviews, you should look out for information on themes such as:
- Overall satisfaction with the job done
- Whether debris was left behind or cleared after completing the work
- Are the clients open to re-hiring the contractor again in the future?
- Did the contractor keep labor and material delays to a minimum?
- Was the job completed in time and within budget?
In the United States, any business with less than 500 employees is considered a small business. According to a 2019 report of the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, there are over 30 million registered small businesses in America, and these include drainage systems businesses. Typically, a contractor needs to obtain a business license to legally conduct business in an area.
Business license requirements vary by locality. You should ensure that the contractor you intend to hire has obtained a valid business license. You may contact the Office of the Secretary of State in your state of residence to find out the business licensing requirements for your area. The Office can also help verify the validity of the business license that a drainage systems contractor provides.
Drainage systems sometimes have obvious problems such as when your basement floods, however, other problems may be less obvious. Listed below are some common drainage system problems that can be resolved by a drainage systems contractor:
- Puddles around your foundation: This can occur when your soil is improperly pitched away from your home or your downspouts do not point far away enough. Whatever the cause is, if you notice puddles forming around your foundation, it may be time to contact a drainage system professional.
- Basement water stains: Before your basement gets flooded, chances are that you would have started noticing water stains appear on your basement walls and floor. If the stains fail to disappear over time, it may be due to improper drainage. Consider hiring the services of a professional drainage systems contractor
- Persistent yard puddles: It is normal for puddles to form on your property after heavy rain. However, it fails to dry off after a few hours, you should consider contacting a qualified person to handle it.
- Overflowing gutters during rain: Although simply cleaning a gutter that overflowed during rain may be the solution to restoring the gutter, it could also be the sign of gutters that are too small or improperly pitched. Hiring a drainage system professional to confirm the cause and fix the problem can go a long way in saving you money.
Every residential drainage project is unique due to the different myriad of challenges posed by each project. The cost of installing or repairing drainage systems depends on the scale of the project, the kind of system proposed, and pre-existing site conditions. For instance, retrofitting a drainage system into an existing landscape requires a huge amount of excavation and piping. Hence, retrofitting costs more than fresh installations.
Installing drainage systems cost homeowners between $1,800 and $5,600 with an average cost of $3,750. Small drainage solutions could be as low as $800, while more complicated solutions could go as high as $8,000. For instance, french drains cost about $20 to $30 per linear foot or between $1,000 and $1,500 in exterior applications and $45 to $60 per linear foot or $5,000 to $6,000 for internal ones. Other drainage system costs are:
Average costs for some drainage systems are listed below:
Perimeter or weeping tile drainage systems are very expensive, often costing above $10,000 due to the amount of digging and materials required. Most local building codes require this type of drainage system with every home build. It involves perforated piping and gravel around the whole foundation to help remove moisture away from the foundation.
The following are the crucial factors affecting the cost of a drainage system job:
- The kind of drainage system required: There are different types of drainage systems, common among which are french drains, surface drains, trench channels, storm drains, or downspouts. Generally, French systems cost more than the other types.
- Repair, replacement, or installation: A fresh installation of a drainage system may involve site analysis, excavation, plumbing works, and procurement of several materials for use. Typically, that would be more expensive when compared to repair or replacement jobs. The cost for repair work will also depend on the severity of damage done to the existing drainage system.
- Location: A drainage system job may cost higher or lower depending on how much wage is charged per hour in a locality. Also locations far from the contractor and the market for materials may add to the cost. Hence, it is recommended that you hire contractors near you.
Drainage system contractors are many times involved in designing drainage systems, analyzing environmental impacts, aesthetics, and project costs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, drainage systems contractors are required to have a degree in civil or environmental engineering. Other key skills required of them include advanced plumbing skills, mathematical and analytical skills, project management, knowledge of construction materials, soil science, and AutoCAD.
When something goes wrong with the drainage system in homes or workplaces, many people turn to any handyman near you for quick fixes. Although hiring a handyman can save you money upfront, it will likely end up costing you more down the line when the problem reappears or continues to get worse. Professional drainage system contractors have specific training in handling drainage problems, unlike handymen who do not have specialized training. Handymen are also unlikely to have experienced complex drainage situations as much as professionals have. A handyman troubleshooting a drainage problem can take several hours while a professional can quickly find the source of a drainage problem. A drainage system contractor is also highly likely to be certified, insured, and bonded which can save you from potential financial liabilities.
Demolition of existing structures, or support structures and excavation can leave a lot of debris such as broken concrete or unused construction materials after installing or repairing a drainage system problem. Clean-up can be minimal to extensive and are the most common post-job expense associated with a drainage system job. Many professional contractors will include the cost of hauling or disposing of any debris in the estimates submitted. However, it is necessary to ask your contractor who will be responsible for footing the bill for any post-job expenses before hiring.
You should also adhere to any instructions given by your contractor on periodic replacements for any parts of your drainage system. Proper maintenance will help you extend the lifespan of the system and forestall frequent problems.
A home insurance policy is designed to protect homeowners against financial losses arising from their properties. A faulty drainage system can cost thousands in repair and a standard insurance policy may not cover you. Whether your drainage system is covered by your home insurance depends on your insurance company and the specific policy you have. Generally, most home insurance policies will cover accidental damage to your drainage system. However, damage due to old age, corrosion, or anything that seems like a natural deterioration will likely not fall under an "accidental damage" scope. External influences such as damage from excavation or tree root intrusion may be covered by your insurance.
As a guide, you should always find out the perils that an insurance company covers before you purchase a homeowners’ insurance policy from them.
Yes, you can. Many contractors including drainage system contractors now accept payment through electronic channels. Digit payment options such as credit cards, debit cards, and bank transfers are safer, more secure, and faster than conventional payment methods. Following lockdown measures and restrictions placed on gatherings to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have embraced carrying out transactions digitally. However, you should ask your contractor for the preferred method of payment before making payments through digital channels.