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Real estate groups aiming to flush sewer camera bill

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Things to know for potential Home sellers and buyers

By: Dennis Rodkin

Just as more Chicago-area homeowners are seeing their property values recover from being under water, some Illinois legislators want to send all home sellers down into the sewer.

A bill introduced in the Illinois House in February would require home sellers to pay for a report on the condition of their properties' main sewer lines, with an inspection done by camera. Real estate groups are fighting the proposal, saying it will add hundreds of dollars—and in some cases, thousands of dollars—to the cost of selling a house.

The report, written by a licensed plumber, would evaluate the sewer line's likelihood of becoming clogged by tree roots, baby wipes and other obstructions, and would be added to the disclosures that state law already requires of home sellers, including the presence of radon, lead paint and termites and disputes over lot lines.

The current disclosure form requires sellers to verify that the home's plumbing is in working order. The difference is that a lot of the problems included in a standard disclosure form are visible to buyers, said the sponsor of the sewer inspection bill, state Rep. Luis Arroyo, D-Chicago.

But “without that camera that goes in and looks at 100 feet of sewer line, you're only disclosing what goes on with the toilets,” he said.

“This is to protect homeowners,” said Arroyo, a former employee of the city's Department of Water Management. “I get a lot of calls from people six months after they bought a house, saying their sewer main collapsed and they're out thousands of dollars” for the repairs. He declined to say exactly how many calls he has received.


“We get that call twice a week,” said Wally Welker, a project manager for Quality Plumbing Services, which serves the North Side and north and northwest suburbs. Welker said partial collapses or clogs often get noticed when a young family buys from an older homeowner, and immediately increases the water use on the property. The greater stress on the sewer system can result in backups or very slow drains, often the first sign of a collapse.

A home's sewer line may clog from tree roots invading through an opening or crack in the clay pipe, from baby wipes and other debris getting trapped at a break or opening in the pipeline or from complete collapse of an old clay pipe. Newer sewer lines are most often made of PVC plastic, and are more resistant to collapse.

Since Arroyo introduced the legislation Feb. 4, real estate industry groups have been asking their members to oppose it, arguing that the cost of sewer-cam inspections—which start at about $375 to $400, according to two plumbers —would be an unfair burden on low- and medium-income homeowners.

“When you're selling a $200,000 house, spending $500 more to do it is expensive,” said Phil Chiles, the immediate past president of the Illinois Association of Realtors. “People are already trying to get every penny out” after the downturn. Chiles predicted that most sellers would tack the cost of the inspection onto their list price, hoping to transfer the cost to buyers.

Sellers typically spend about 10 percent of the price on the home to cover commissions, title insurance and related costs, according to research by online real estate database Zillow.

Some sellers could end up paying for a lot more than a sewer report. If the inspection turns up signs of an imminent collapse or closure of the sewer line, sellers might be on the hook for a bill that could exceed $10,000, said Paul Fredericy, manager of Power Plumbing & Sewer Contractor in Chicago.


The bill does not specify who would pay for repair work. In an interview last week, Arroyo said he would expect the buyer and seller to “include that in their negotiation on the price.”

But a seller who receives a report saying that a sewer collapse is coming would have to decide whether to pay to have it fixed before selling, or hope a buyer comes along who's willing to pay for it.

Either way, the buyer's total cost goes up, Chiles said.

Rep. John D'Amico, D-Chicago, a cosponsor of the bill and a practicing plumber, argues that for many homes with old sewer lines, the buyer's costs will go up anyway when the line collapses at some point in the future. The legislation “takes the gamble out of it. You know if you're looking at something major with the sewer line and not getting hit with a bill unexpectedly.”

D'Amico acknowledged that the bill would generate business for plumbers: In 2014, more than 146,000 homes sold in Illinois. At $400 a pop, that would generate more than $58 million in revenue. Nevertheless, he said, “we're trying to protect the buyers.”

Welker and Fredericy both said that they often advise buyers of older homes to have a sewer-cam inspection done before signing a purchase contract. Once they've had a home inspection, Fredericy said, buyers often call a plumber to find out the cost of found defects, such as slow-draining sinks. That's when “we tell them they need to look farther, look into the sewer line.”

Welker, however, disagreed with the legislation's proposal to have sellers pay for the sewer-cam inspection. “That should be the buyer's responsibility,” he said. “They want to know what they're in for. The sellers don't pay for the home inspection, so why should they pay for the camera?”

Last week, Arroyo said he may revise the bill to split the cost of a sewer-cam between buyer and seller.

Article from:

Lenders to collect flood insurance premiums

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Below is a great article that was found in the Chicago Tribune (3/8/15)  by Lew Sichelman (United Feature Syndicate).

Starting January 2016, lenders will be required to collect escrow funds from borrowers who have flood insurance, just like they do for property taxes and hazard insurance.

Though the proposed rules won't take effect until almost a year from now, it won't hurt borrowers to start getting familiar with them so they won't be shocked when their house payments go up Jan, 1.

Under the rule, which is subject to a few changes, regulated lending institutions must escrow premiums and fees for flood coverage on loans secured by residential properties starting next year. Besides new mortgages made after that date, the rule also would apply to older loans that are increased, extended or renewed.

Also, come the first of the year, borrowers already on the books must be given the options of escrowing their flood insurance premiums if they so desire.

In a key change from previous proposals, the rule would eliminate the requirement that would have forced borrowers to obtain coverage for a structure that is a part of a residential property in a special flood hazard area if that structure is detached from the house and does not also serve as a residence. But lenders can require insurance on the detached structures if they determine that it is necessary to protect the collateral securing the mortgage.

After several false starts, the latest federal edict on escrowing for flood coverage was issued late last year by five regulatory agencies: the Federal Reserve Board, Farm Credit Administration, Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., National Credit Union Administration and the Comptroller of the Currency. 

The rules implement changes required by last year's Homeowner Flood Insurance Act, which itself amended the Biggert-Waters Act of 2012.

Niles Chamber honors Parks Plumbing

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Niles Chamber of Commerce has recently honored Parks' at their Leadership and Recognition Luncheon for being a part of their Longest Standing Members. See the article by clicking the link below.

Don't get caught with water in your basement!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Call today and schedule your annual Clean & Check for your Flood Control system! (847)-676-1931

Let us provide you with a 21 point inspection by our qualified Flood Control Technicians.

Don't forget your Flood Control is a mechanical system just like a car, therefore it needs to be maintained.

Our annual Clean & Checks will have your Flood Control running in tip-top shape!

We service all Flood Control, Lift Station, and Over Head Sewer Systems, even if we didn't originally install them!

We HIGHLY recommend to have your system checked out once a year, it is vital in maintaining a properly working Flood Control.

Attention All Schiller Park Residents

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

For all of our customers that reside in the Village of Schiller Park, the Village is now offering a grant for installation of Sewer Check Valves. There are some restrictions in order to be approved for the grant. To see if you are eligible and to take advantage of this offer please copy and paste the link below in to your browser.

ABC Local News

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

He should have called Parks'!!

Frozen Pipes!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Advice from the Village of Skokie

With the continued frigid temperatures, Village crews report that the frost line has gone deeper into the ground than usual. As a result, water service pipes that would not normally be at risk for freezing can be vulnerable and residents are advised to keep a very small amount of water running through their water service at all times during the severe weather. This is particularly important for water pipes on exterior walls, but with this season's prolonged cold, it is advised even for properties that do not have water pipes on exterior walls. Additionally, keep cabinet doors that have piping inside open to allow for air circulation. These tips are especially essential if your home has previously experienced frozen pipes.

If a pipe does freeze or burst in your home please don't try to fix the issue yourself unless you have experience with these extreme weather situations. Call our office right a way to schedule a service call.

City and Village Rebates for Flood Control Systems

Friday, May 31, 2013

The following list are the Cities and Villages in the Chicagoland area that offer rebate programs for homeowners that are looking into installing a Flood Control System, Clean Out Station or converting to an Overhead Sewer System.

  • Arlington Heights (847-368-5000) - Currently offering a rebate of up to $5000.00 to convert to an Overhead Sewer System.
  • Elmhurst (630-530-3000) - Currently offering a rebate of up to $5000.00 to convert to an Overhead Sewer System.
  • Des Plaines (847-391-5380) - Currently offering a rebate of up to $2000.00 on any type of Sewer Repair if the problem is in the right - of way. Also offering a rebate of up to $2000.00 off the installation of any flood mitigation/control system including Overhead Sewers, Flood Control Systems, or Battery Backup Systems.
  • Glencoe (847-835-4111) - Currently offering a rebate of up to $2000.00 to convert to an Overhead Sewer or the installation of a Flood Control System.
  • Morton Grove (847-965-4100) - Currently offering interest free loans for a conversion to an Overhead Sewer or the installation of a Flood Control System.
  • Schaumburg (847-895-4500) - Currently offering a rebate of up to $5000.00 to convert to an Overhead Sewer system.
  • Brookfield (708-485-7344) - Currently offering a rebate of up to $4000.00 for flood mitigation.
  • Niles (847-588-8000) 
  • Glenview (847-904-4400) - Currently offering a cost sharing program for installation of Overhead Sewer system they will reimburse up to 50% of cost with a max of $7500.00.

Great Article from the Tribune about Home Insurance.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Sewer backups are not automatically covered by all homeowner insurance policies.

Water everywhere, but no insurance coverage.

Q: Last month we had some water damage in one of our units. The floors were ruined, caused by a backup in a sewer pipe. Our insurance company is giving us a hard time. Isn't this just the sort of thing that insurance is supposed to pay for?

A: Most people would indeed conclude that damage caused by a back up would be covered by one's property insurance. But , unfortunately for you, your problem is probably not covered.

Most policies cover damage caused by the sudden and accidental discharge of water that comes out of a pressurized plumbing system (the parts of the pipes that delivers water to the faucets, toilets and appliances). Damage from water that backs up from the street sewer, through unpressurized lines designed to take water away from the house is generally not covered.

In fact, the exclusion covers not just street sewer obstructions, but also water that enters a home through a backup in any water to the sewer. The reason is two-fold: The insurance company is not in the business of insuring the city against the consequences of it's poorly maintained sewer lines. And your clogged drains are considered a maintenance problem, not a "sudden and accidental" event.

This neat division between water delivered to the house versus water taken away from the house can however, be sorely tested, depending on what happened and what your policy says.

A California court recently faced this question: The homeowner's toilet continued to "run" because the fill valve was stuck in the open position, but the bowl overflowed instead of draining because of a clogged sewer line 40 feet away. The policy excluded damage caused by water that "backs up or overflows from a clogged sewer or drain." The homeowner claimed that the exclusion did not apply, because the water flowed directly from the toilet bowl, never entering the drain. But the court focused on the word "overflows," and applied the exclusion, to the dismay of the homeowner.

Other courts, facing the same set of facts but dealing with a policy that omitted the word "overflows," have concluded that because the water never entered the drainage system, it could not back up. In these cases, the homeowner was covered.

Here's another wrinkle: If your policy excludes water that backs up through a drain rather than from it, would insurance cover, given the fact of the California case?

Arguably, water that never gets into the drain, as in the California case, cannot be said to have backed up through it, so the exclusion would not apply.

The lesson here is to not despair of the value of insurance. Most of the time, steady and proper maintenance will forestall most plumbing problems. That's where you should focus your attention.

Parks' Plumbing & Sewer, Inc. Receives 2012 Best of Skokie Award

Friday, January 11, 2013

Press Release


Parks' Plumbing & Sewer, Inc. Receives 2012 Best of Skokie Award

Skokie Award Program Honors the Achievement

SKOKIE October 21, 2012 -- Parks' Plumbing & Sewer, Inc. has been selected for the 2012 Best of Skokie Award in the Flood Control Equipment category by the Skokie Award Program.

Each year, the Skokie Award Program identifies companies that we believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and our community. These exceptional companies help make the Skokie area a great place to live, work and play.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2012 Skokie Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the Skokie Award Program and data provided by third parties.

About Skokie Award Program

The Skokie Award Program is an annual awards program honoring the achievements and accomplishments of local businesses throughout the Skokie area. Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value.

The Skokie Award Program was established to recognize the best of local businesses in our community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to recognize the small business community’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

SOURCE: Skokie Award Program