We’ve had good service in the past years from Roto-Rooter. This time when the service person (“plumber”?) arrived on a Saturday afternoon, about 6 hours after our request during a rainstorm, he worked on clearing the drain between our perimeter sump at the bottom of our driveway to the City’s storm drain about 40 feet away at the top of our driveway. After about a half hour he declared that our drainpipe under the driveway was fully cleared and draining, but that the City’s needed cleaned as well. We paid our $230 or so for the job we thought was completed.
The City (Coquitlam) crew attended promptly when called, cleaned their part of the system at the roadway level, and said we needed to call a plumber to clean our part of the drainage from the bottom of our driveway to their storm drain at the top! I told them that had already been done a couple of hours before, but they pointed to a visible net of fine roots hanging out of the end of our drainpipe and that we should call the plumber back as it was an incomplete plumbing job. So we did that.
While making several desperate calls in the following hours up to 11 PM to have Roto-rooter return to complete the job, we siphoned and bailed water from our sump area up to the street level to avoid it backing up into our finished basement. We finally had to detach a downpipe and dig a trench in the back yard to divert water from the sump and onto a far point in our back lawn. This wasn’t an easy task for two 73-year-olds to do during a cold rainstorm and wondering whether we would get proper help from Roto-Rooter before our basement flooded.
After talking a few times with a very clear and helpful woman at the call desk, we were connected with a worker who was on his way from Vancouver to a job in Abbotsford but couldn’t stop by in Coquitlam along the way to complete the job they had started in the afternoon. Instead, he said he would connect us to the plumber who had done the work already as he was also on call that night, too, and he would call us back.
After waiting awhile with no call back, we phoned reception again and she made the connection, saying that the original plumber would call us soon. He didn’t, but finally and suddenly arrived at our house around 11:30 PM, in a rather grumpy, negative mood.
He casually looked at the situation and stated that he couldn’t use his belt driven auger in a rainstorm because it would just “slip”, and that it would have to wait until the rain stopped, which was unlikely to be soon according to the forecast, and I informed him that then our basement would flood if he didn’t complete the job as noted by the City crew. He wasn’t interested in looking at the visible roots hanging from the end of our drain he had supposedly cleared a few hours earlier. When I directed him with a flashlight to take a look, and asked him if he thought it might help to pull them out, his reply was plainly: “I doubt it.” I then withdrew my assistance and any further suggestions for him while he stood looking confused. He finally decided to bring out the auger machine and cover it with a plastic tarp to keep the mechanism drier while working. Eventually he perked up and announced that he had loosened a plug of dirt from the drain and it was at last running smoothly. The hanging net of fine roots was no longer seen. The water levels returned to their normal state and we were relieved at last, 14 hours after our initial call to Roto-Rooter that Saturday morning and after much physical and emotional stress for us.
The following day, Sunday, City staff returned to check the situation and found that even though the water was running sufficiently through the system there were still some small roots in the drain (seen clearly via video) that Roto-Rooter had reportedly (twice) declared as “all clear now”! Those remaining roots were finally removed but not by Roto-Rooter.
We used to have confidence in Roto-Rooter, using the company a few times during our 46 years living at this house. We are no longer confident and will likely call an alternative service in future and not recommend Roto-Rooter.