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Selecting a Sewer Line Contractor

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With the aging of the public infrastructure in Elk Grove Village, it is inevitable that street, sidewalk, water and sewer systems will need to be repaired and replaced. This can be seen each summer when the Village re-paves roads that have cracked and deteriorated, replaces sidewalks that have settled or heaved, and replaces sewer and water mains that are beginning to collapse and deteriorate.

As the community ages, the residents may also see the need to replace or repair their private infrastructure. Every year we see numerous residents replacing or resurfacing their driveways and driveway aprons as well as their sewer service line. Typically, the first time a resident realizes that they need work done on their sewer service is when a sink or toilet will not drain properly. With the need for the sewer to be repaired immediately, there is an opportunity for unscrupulous contractors to take advantage of the situation and overcharge you.

While the Village cannot control the fee that the contractor charges for their work, we can do our best to educate our residents about what to expect if they need to call a sewer contractor.

There are generally three methods for fixing a sewer problem. The first consists of rodding out the sewer service line. This method is possible when there is a minor obstruction in the service line. The sewer rodding process entails a contractor placing a cutter in the service to cut away the obstruction. Usually the contractor will use an existing interior, exterior cleanout, or will remove a toilet to gain access to the sewer if a cleanout has not been installed. Rodding out a sewer service does not require a Village permit. If an object that was flushed down the toilet caused the blockage in the sewer line, sewer rodding will eliminate the problem. Unfortunately, if the blockage is caused by partial settlement or displacement of the sewer line, or by tree roots entering a broken line, sewer rodding is only a temporary solution. Additional sewer rodding or a more extensive repair will be necessary in the future. The cost to have your sewer service rodded out should be between $150 and $250.

A second method of repair involves the installation of a cleanout followed by sewer rodding. A cleanout is installed when it is not feasible to remove a toilet to rod out the service and you do not have a cleanout already installed on your line. To install a cleanout, the contractor will dig up the sewer service line and place a cleanout in the service line. The installation of a cleanout will allow the sewer to be cleaned out/rodded and will permit easier rodding of the line in the future, if necessary. This again is only a temporary solution if the blockage is caused by pipe or tree roots entering a broken line. The installation of a cleanout does require a permit from the Village ($40) and the repair should cost between $200 and $1800 depending upon the amount of work that is necessary.

The final repair method is a partial or complete sewer service line replacement. This is necessary when the sewer service is so clogged that it cannot be rodded out or the sewer service is broken or collapsing. This method of repair is the most expensive but it is also a permanent solution. A Village permit ($40) is required for this repair and the work should cost between $2500 and $4000 depending upon how much work needs to be done.

Before you agree to any work on your sewer service line, the Village recommends that you obtain cost proposals from several contractors. In addition, do not agree to let a contractor start digging in your yard without the contractor utilizing a camera or rod line to identify the exact location of the blockage. There is no way a contractor can determine what repairs need to be done if they cannot find the blockage and/or see the condition of the pipe. Unfortunately, some contractors advise the resident that they only need to install a cleanout to correct their sewer problem without verifying the exact repair needed. The resident agrees to have a cleanout installed and later they are told that in addition to installing a cleanout, they will need to have the service line replaced. The cost is then substantially higher than the original cost but the contractor informs the resident that it’s the only thing they can do to get the sanitary sewer back in service.

The Village recommends that residents exercise caution and call more than one contractor prior to agreeing to any repair work. If more than one contractor cannot come to your home to give you an estimate, we suggest that, at a minimum, you obtain telephone quotes from other available plumbing contractors for performing similar work.

Feel free to call the Department of Engineering & Community Development at (847) 357-4220 to find out if your contractor is licensed and bonded to do work within the Village and to discuss the scope of work and price the contractor has identified to you. We are here to help.