Under , Piedmont homeowners must make sure the sewer pipes running between their properties and city mains—known as "laterals"—meet the standards of the East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD). Inspections verifying compliance are now required whenever a property is transferred, undergoes $100,000 worth of remodeling or more, or the volume of water service changes (because a new bathroom is added, for example).
For the most part, the inspection job costs between $150 and $200, with some local contractors asking for as little as $75.
The new rules also require cleanouts—above-ground segments of pipe that provide access for inspections and removal of clogs. If your property doesn't have a cleanout already, installation estimates start at $600.
Mr. Rooter, 1515 University Ave., Berkeley charges a minimum of $198 for a lateral inspections, said customer service representative Martha Bhangu. The price goes up if no cleanout is visible—for example, if the home is on a hill and the pipe is far underground—or if it’s otherwise particularly difficult to reach the lateral.
Roto-Rooter Plumbing & Drain Services charges $196.75 for a lateral inspection, with the price going toward the cost of repair if additional work is done, said dispatcher Rhea Carvalho. Though the company is headquartered in Livermore at 333 North Canyons Parkway, Suite 221, it once had a satellite office in downtown Oakland, and Carvalho said the company does at least one lateral inspection a day in Piedmont.
Pipe Spy at 1108 26th St., Oakland, charges $150 for lateral inspections if there’s an accessible cleanout. If there’s no cleanout, it will cost an additional $150, as the toilet would be temporarily removed and the camera would be lowered through that opening, said sales manager Alex Hardy. Hardy priced cleanout installations between $700 and $2,000, depending on how difficult it is to access the pipes.
Albion Pluming & Rooter at 717 45th Ave., Oakland, also charges $150 for the lateral inspection and $850 for cleanout installation on average, though the actual price may vary.
Plumbing Ministry at 1637 80th Ave., Oakland charges about $100 for a lateral inspection, though that fee will be waived if there’s additional work needed and the estimate is accepted on the spot, said owner Louis Ray. For the installation of a cleanout, Ray charges between $200 and $2,000, depending on how difficult it is to access the pipes.
Tom Martin Plumbing at 5111 Telegraph Ave., Oakland charges from $75 to $125 for a lateral inspection and between $600 and $800 for cleanout installations. Martin said he keeps his prices low to generate more business.
If a contractor finds something amiss, or the city notices a problem during its regular sweeps, a repair can be a much more costly proposition: $3,000 on average, according to EBMUD's inflow and infiltration program manager Chandra Johannesson.