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  #1  
Old 09-30-2013, 02:32 PM
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magicmike magicmike is offline
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Aeration question

Does anyone require a customer to sign a waiver when aerating if they have irrigation system? I'm not talking about the sprinkler heads Im talking more for the lines underground I have little knowledge on irrigation and how deep they put the lines from what I read they should be atleast 18" deep but how about if they were not properly installed
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Old 09-30-2013, 06:14 PM
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Glenn Lawn Care Glenn Lawn Care is offline
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An aerator will only make a 3 inch hole give or take. You shouldn't have a problem.
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Old 09-30-2013, 07:31 PM
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JimLewis JimLewis is offline
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First of all, I'm not sure where you read that irrigation lines are supposed to be 18" deep, but that's not true. At least not across the board. There isn't any real standard for how deep irrigation lines should be. One of the reasons for this is it would totally vary from one region to the other. Even here within Oregon it would make a huge difference if you lived in Bend, where they get very deep freezes vs. living in Portland, where we rarely get a freeze at all, and when we do, it's not very deep.

So first thing is forget the notion that there is some standard for burying irrigation lines to some standard depth. No such standard exists.

Second thing is that it's really not the pipe you need to worry about. It's the sprinkler HEADS themselves that you will hit with your aerator. And those are always going to be at the surface, obviously, or else they wouldn't really work right. Those are what people break with aerators - the heads. And it makes no matter at all how deep the pipe is. The heads will always be at risk for getting hit by an aerator.

As for making people sign a waiver, I don't know anyone who does that and I don't know that most clients would sign it. It's not a standard practice and although it's not a bad idea, I just don't think it's feasible.

The risk of hitting sprinkler heads is just part of the risk when doing Aerating. Instead of finding a way out of it, what you really need to do is price accordingly. Just ASSUME you're going to hit a sprinkler head occasionally. Let's say you hit a head one out of 10 systems. And let's say it costs you $100.00 to hire a good irrigation contractor to go fix it. So then you divide $100 by 10 and you should be charging $10 more than you are now for aerating. Then just tell your customers to check their irrigation system when you are finished and if there is a broken head, please let you know and you'll get someone out to fix it ASAP. You'll end up looking like a pro!
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:08 PM
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alldayrj alldayrj is offline
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No one on Long Island is putting them 18" deep, I break lines all the time digging 4" for concrete or rototilling for sod. I think you could ask them to sign a waiver and it would be reasonable, or at least tell them verbally you will accept responsibility for the heads but can't be for the lines. Turn the valves on manually and mark all the heads for your own peace of mind and go to work.

I tell people verbally, but when I break them I usually fix for free. Makes people feel good and I keep a repair kit under the seat of the truck. I bust at least one a week.
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Old 09-30-2013, 09:08 PM
herler herler is offline
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I would get a lawyer to draw that up, might be best to keep said attorney on a retainer, granted you probably will lose some customers but tell the attorney to be sure to cover any and all possible angles, present that to your customer to sign several days before the aeration so they have time to read it.

On another note, if you fail to call Miss Utility before digging...
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Old 09-30-2013, 09:17 PM
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We don't aerate unless the heads are marked. Period. Whether it be with golf balls, flags or even sticks. We call all of our customers the day before telling them to make sure there heads are marked. Never will we do it ourselves. Pretty easy to miss making one and just eats up time. if they can't mark them? Ok we will call you at the end when we are finishing to see if your ready.

As to the lines? We haven't hit one in the 35 years we've been doing it. Maybe cause we're in mn but they seem to always seem buried deep.

They way our proposals read, it would be pretty easy to throw in the piping clause when they sign up.
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Old 09-30-2013, 09:48 PM
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JimLewis JimLewis is offline
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Seriously??? An attorney? Take time out of your day several days before to go present it to them, have them read it over, and sign it??? You're kidding, right? You'd spend more in wasted time and attorney fees than you ever would hitting 10 sprinklers and having to repair them. Not to mention the customers you'd scare away.

Aerating, at least around where I live, is a relatively small ticket item to begin with. Most companies around my area aerate most suburban yards for $45.00. We charge $75.00. And even at that, we are more expensive than almost every company around.

If we made people sign waivers I doubt we'd land many aerating jobs. And I can tell you for sure the time wasted and attorney's fees in doing so would more than negate any profit we made for this service.
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:35 AM
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I agree with you Jim on the whole attorney thing. Its not like a slip and fall for plowing type of thing. Its tiny and most people wouldnt want to hassel with signing ANOTHER form.

BUT they way we work, all new customers that sign up for an aeration need to sign our service aggreement saying IN LARGE WRITING, we continue service each year untill canceled, along with the prices of per application, aeration and aeration/overseed. It would be very easy to slip in a sentance saying " "our company" takes no fault to damage caused to improperly installed irrigation lines and unmarked heights" easy for us
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Old 10-01-2013, 08:36 AM
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And as for pricing, we start at $60 for anything under 5k, goes up from there. Double for overseed
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:46 PM
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JimLewis JimLewis is offline
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You could slip that into your agreement, sure. But how do think the customer is going to react when you break a sprinkler head, they ask you to fix it, and all they get from you is, "Nope! Look! 8 months ago, you signed right here saying that we weren't responsible if we broke sprinklers while aerating! We're not liable." I'll save you the suspense. They're not going to be happy campers and they're not going to like that answer.

I don't understand why you guys just don't do the professional thing and take responsibility for it when you hit a head. It's not that big of a deal. We hit a sprinkler maybe one out of 20 aerating jobs we do. No big deal. Just part of the job. If we hit it, I just send one of our irrigation service techs out and they fix it in 5 minutes.

Even if you don't have irrigation techs at your company, it's easy to find a good local company who does and work out a deal for a service rate if you do break a head. I have a friend in my area who owns an aerating-only company. All they do all day every day is aerating. They layer an entire sub-division with flyers on day and then go in and aerate 40+ homes the next day. It's a decent business. He does TONS of aerating. And whenever they break something they're not capable of fixing they just call us. We've worked out a discounted rate for them and since it only takes 5 minutes usually, once we arrive, it's not a big deal for us to work it into our route over the next day or two. They just consider it part of the cost of doing business. And they have tons of happy customers because they take responsibility if they accidentally break something.
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