On Friday, January 28th, 2022, an employee of Halifax Plumbing and Heating, Gavin, came to my house for an appointment to identify and resolve an issue of a water back-up in the basement. He and his co-worker worked diligently to resolve the issue, snaked the drain, and believed they cleared it. I paid $402.50 for their time and services, and they went on their way.
On January 30th, the issue returned with water spreading across my basement from the back-up. I identified the specific location the water was backing up from and called back on Monday January 31st to have the situation investigated further and resolved.
Gavin and his coworker returned, cleared the line again and ran a video inspection. Upon completing the video inspection, Gavin told me with confidence that the lateral—the sewer line connecting the house to the street—must have a sag in it, as part of the line remained full of water. He spent 20 minutes attempting to locate the pipe in the yard, only to call someone (the owner – James – I believe) and was told that, due to the construction of the pipe (asbestos concrete), it would not be locatable with the tools he had. He provided me recommendations to have the sewer lateral replaced / renewed, advised that—with a collapsed or sagged lateral—there would only be so much waste we could put down before it would back up again. I paid $287.50 for the video inspection.
I followed up on his recommendations, moved my family into a hotel so we wouldn’t have more back-ups, and hired G&R Kelly to conduct a renewal on my sewer lateral. The cost for the hotel came to over $4000 for the time we were there, and the cost for the renewal was $5775.00 + HST.
G&R Kelly came as scheduled to conduct the renewal, and unfortunately in the process had to destroy my front walkway, front deck, and some landscaping features (a tree, and some bushes). While conducting the renewal, they found that the sewer lateral was in fine shape. It did not have a sag or collapse, and was clear to the street. In an effort to better understand the issue I was facing, they did a video inspection in reverse—back into the house. They immediately found the issue and identified exactly where the problem was. Further, they explained that it should have been evident to any plumber we had hired, provided they had the right tools to do their job effectively, that the issue was NOT in the lateral but was rather in the final leg of the drain pipe in the house before reaching the sewer lateral. G&R Kelly replaced the section of the lateral they had unearthed and accessed, closed the excavation back up, laid down gravel, and suggested a plumber to contact to have the actual issue resolved.
Unbeknownst to me, we had a weeping tile system around our house which had been connected to the sewer lateral. The Halifax Water inspector required that it be disconnected when it was noticed, so it was. In the rain storms since this unnecessary sewer renewal was completed, our basement flooded multiple times. Since that point, we had to hire G&R Kelly to return to install / connect a stormwater drain.
I had called Halifax Plumbing & Heating’s office to inform the owner of the situation, as it’s highly unfortunate that one plumber’s error caused this whole sequence of calamities. I was told James – the owner – would call me back. James did indeed call me back shortly thereafter, and promptly began to tear a strip off me, blaming everyone else involved for not having done their job properly, accusing me of demanding things (I had made no demands or requests at this point), and never once accepting responsibility for his employee’s error. Whether it be a lack of training, lack of proper tools to do his job, or lack of experience, that employee’s error—without question—led to this sequence of events and immense cost.
My conversation with James / Halifax Plumbing and Heating was initially to express the following:
Having conversed with James on the phone since then, and experiencing first-hand his complete lack of composure when dealing with a customer complaint, I don’t believe that simple feedback provided will have any impact on how he chooses to do business in the future. Since that time, I have hired a capable plumber to remedy the actual issue, at an expense of about $6,000. This is money that could have been spent with Halifax Plumbing and Heating, had the issue been diagnosed properly at the outset. The front deck that was destroyed had to be replaced at a cost of $3,000.
While I don’t know what a proper recompense should be for this whole series of events, I would – at the very least – appreciate an apology and a refund of the money paid to Halifax Plumbing and Heating. It doesn’t seem to be too much to ask for, given everything that came from the misdiagnosis of the problem.