plumbing mess

Discussion in 'Shop Talk' started by Dreams30, Dec 10, 2006.

  1. Dreams30

    Dreams30 Lady Rider

    Dec 12, 2003
    SW Ark
    Our house used to be a church and fellowship hall built in the 50's. We have had a problem with the sewer since we moved in and it has gotten worse.

    We rented an electric sewer snake yesterday and used it at the cleanout hole between the two buildings.

    We hit something between the buildings and the snake wouldn't go anymore. We tried forward and reverse several times but, still it wouldn't go.

    Then we tried snaking with a hand snake from the toilet in the building that it seemed stuck closest to.

    I know that the main isn't supposed to go right up to the toilet but, the way they made this place, anything is possible.

    The hand snake didn't work so we tried taking the toilet off and using the electric snake. It seemed to work just fine for about 6 feet then.....

    We had the clothes washer going in the other building....(don't ask me why since, I was under the impression that someone had turned the water off while we were doing this...) :rolleyes:

    ...anyway....sewage starting spitting up out of the toilet drain and covered the whole back room.

    We called the city public works and started hauling stuff out, bailing and mopping....

    The city folks showed up and told us that they could check the lines on both streets beside us but, that if the problem were on our property then we were on our own.

    We tried to locate where the drain comes out of the building under that toilet but, we dug about 2 feet down for about 4 feet and couldn't find it.

    We are pretty sure that the clog was around there somewhere by where we measure the snake to......when we got it out.

    Any suggestions on what you would do besides call a plumber? We really can't afford one and I haven't met one yet that takes payments....
  2. The Paw

    The Paw Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2006
    Manitoba, Canada
    Not really enough information in your post to give a totally clear picture, but here's what occurs to me.

    1. It the laundry is in a separate building than the toilet, and water from the laundry pushed back into the toilet, then the clog is located somewhere downs tream of where the drains for the two buildings connect. Normally, the cleanout would be near where the two connect.

    2. If your snake is blocked six feet from the toilet, that might be the block. Could the two drainlines connect six feet from the toilet?

    3. I don't know how powerful your electric snake is, but one time I took a hand snake and put the end in the chuck of my electric drill for MORE POWER. It made a sound like the world was ending, but it worked...

    4. If your post is saying that you only dug down 2 feet, I would think that is not deep enough. Around here, the drain would be 5 feet below grade. City public works should be able to tell you where your drain line ties into the public system, and how deep the line is at that point.

    Good luck.

  3. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

    Jan 19, 2005
    Your typical guess if block is outside is roots have gotten into the main drain line. Do you know what material the main drain is made? Clay tile pipe or PVC. If tile pipe that happens pretty often and usually the solution is to dig it up.

    The really heavy RotoRouter snake with the cutting jaws can sometimes go thru it. When you think you hit something does it feel solid. Could be a joint in the pipe. If it is roots, normally a bit will come back on the snake if the tip has some type of auger thingee.

    Tough to tell. I would give it a bunch more tries at the suspected block and see if I can bring a bit of it back to get a clue what it might be.

    If you have the plumber plugs and balloons and a way to isolate the drains in the house from the mains outside and apply lots of air pressure might be the only good option left.

    If it is roots usually you are screwed. Wind up digging it up and replacing the line many times.
  4. farminghandyman

    farminghandyman Well-Known Member Supporter

    Mar 4, 2005
    you could be hitting a TEE or a Elbow and not making the bend,

    it may be worth your while to see what a plumber charge to camera the line, or if a rental shop has a "sewer cam"

    (tip, run a little water that way one will be able to keep an idea what is the bottom of the pipe,)

    with the camera one will be able to see if the "blockage" is a blockage or roots or a tee or elbow that may be improperly installed, and may help you choose the proper head to remove the blockage.

    will also see if there are low spots and the condition of the line, and what needs to be done to fix it correctly,
    NOTE: only run the rooter in forward rotation on the cable (the cable has a twist), and running the cable in reverse rotation can mess up the cable, (only reverse if there is no other way to remove the cable, and then only long enough to unstuck the cable), I know you don't want to buy an new cable for the rental company,

    By forward and reverse I am not talking about feeding the cable IN AND OUT of the pipe, I am talking about the rotation of the cable,

    GREENCOUNTYPETE Moderator Staff Member

    Jul 25, 2006
    if you have one clear run to the street use a sanitary lift to that from the other buildings
  6. Cosmic

    Cosmic Well-Known Member

    Jan 19, 2005
    Your comments that it didn't work very well before sort of puts it in the roots category.

    Very common problem. Any wee cracks or openings, the roots will find the water in the sewer and then they go crazy growing. Will just form a big plug.

    Even if you get a pro Roto-Router big machine and cut thru the plug, it just comes back quickly. Can even block a large city / town sewer line.

    Is there trees in the area? Doesn't even have to be, all sorts of roots you never knew about are underground. Even big weeds can have long roots.

    The only good defense is have the sewer lines completely leak / hole / gap free. Like the heavy wall PVC with glued joints. That thin walled drain line splits too often even if it has glued joints.

    They just had to redo one of my neighbors thin walled PVC line to the septic, was leaking on my property, dug it up, not plugged total yet but was getting full of roots. No trees around, just what appeared to be lawn over top.
  7. Big Dave

    Big Dave Well-Known Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    West Central Arkansas
    Do not know if you will read this but you need to find a plumber who is in need of what you can trade him. Barter. Second you need to send a camers down there to see what is going on. They have those tools and I have used them. Good luck