Author Topic: likely clogged main drainage line  (Read 3086 times)

Case

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likely clogged main drainage line
« on: May 30, 2016, 04:41:59 PM »
Of course this happens on Memorial Day.  I'm looking for advice on the cost-efficiency of my planned course of action, and any other suggestions.

I have a back up somewhere in my houses drainage system.  In the bedroom wing of my house, the toilets drain slowly and as they do raw sewage (e.g. shit and water) flows our of the bathtub/shower drains.  Plunging the toilets does not work, probably because the blog is far down the drain and thus there are multiple water outlets (push plunger in one, pressure relieve in the other).  Thus, It looks like the main drain line is clogged.  I checked with a neighbor to make sure they weren't back up either (e.g. clog in the city line vs mine) and they have no clog).

My instinct on this one is to wait until tomorrow (to avoid holiday/off-hours fees) and bring in a plumber.  It will be costly to hire a plumber, but trying to snake out a drain on my own may be risky.  For one, I'm short on time because I'm leaving town in a few days.  Also, I have an older home which means the drain lines are cast iron and there is not an obvious clean-out to use (there possibly is one right where the drain line exits my house and goes to the city line... but it does not look like the more modern clean-outs i've seen online).

Right now I have covered the waste water with Lysol in an attempt to mitigate contamination of the room (slowly the water is draining back down the drains).  In theory I could plug up all of the drains that I'm not plunging, and then plunge, and I might be able to dislodge the huge impacted turd (or whatever the fuck is stuck in that line), but I"m not sure where to get drain plugs.  One toilet has a weird shape in the 'mouth' and forming a tight seal with a plunger is tricky.  Also, the shower drain is 'fancy' and is hard to describe, but it will be similarly difficult to form a tight seal on it.

Any ideas?  This one of those things to just leave to the professionals?

I do have a water back-up rider on my homeowner's insurance, but it only covers repairing damage to the house; not the costs of getting rid of the clog.

john6221

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #1 on: May 30, 2016, 04:49:29 PM »
Call in a small, independent company to do a drain auger and camera inspection. The auger will clean the line but the camera will tell you what the problem was to start. Personally, I have tree roots in my main line, and I have it augered every year. Costs me $99 from a local company I found on Angie's List. In my opinion, that's well worth it. I'll DIY other stuff but augering a main line is not on my list.

jawisco

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #2 on: May 30, 2016, 05:05:05 PM »
Well, it isn't a big deal to snake a drain line, but if you are short on time, you could hire someone and watch them do it, and then you could do it the next time.

If you have lived there a while, and this is your first issue, I would skip the camera and just have it unclogged.  If you have only been there a short while, the camera might be instructive.

Good luck!

mustachianteacher

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #3 on: May 30, 2016, 05:10:28 PM »
John6221 has good advice. You can also ask if they'll hydrojet your main line -- costs more, but lasts longer.

Our house has a hateful relationship with plumbing and we've dealt with this exact issue twice, both times on Sunday nights. We eventually replaced our main line from the house to the city connection because it wasn't a salvageable situation anymore. The sewer pipe was ceramic and had totally crumbled and been overtaken by tree roots. It cost a small fortune because of its length, and none of it was covered by insurance, but the new sewer line came with a 100-year warranty, so that's something.

Spork

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #4 on: May 30, 2016, 05:30:33 PM »
I agree: Small, independent plumber.

The guy I used to hire (he's now retired and I've moved) cost less than renting an auger.

Case

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #5 on: May 30, 2016, 05:50:04 PM »
I agree: Small, independent plumber.

The guy I used to hire (he's now retired and I've moved) cost less than renting an auger.

Thanks all for the recommendations... you mean an independent plumber as in single guy, as opposed to a small business?

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #6 on: May 31, 2016, 04:23:38 AM »
If the name is something like Jim Smith Plumbing and street view of the address shows some random house, that's your small independent plumber. If it turns out like the guy I called when I had a sewage smell in the basement, he already knows your neighbors.

chasesfish

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #7 on: May 31, 2016, 05:44:06 AM »
Do you know how long your main drain line is and what its constructed of?  What type of elevation drop do you have between the house and the sewer line?

If its a short line and PVC, its pretty easy to do and clear out yourself.  I fought this issue for three month in a 1950's home but have a fairly flat lot and old cast iron piping and hired a single person plumber (found on Yelp) to clear out the block.  Since then, we've switched to a more biodegradable toilet paper (moved to Scott from Kirkland brand) and are sure to use the shower on the old side of the house for water flow.  We also hold down the toilet handle until a flush is completed.

You have to learn your house and manage it.  We never had these issues before because we had a nice elevation drop and PVC.

kendallf

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #8 on: May 31, 2016, 07:45:14 AM »
If you hire somebody to run an auger through it, try to be there when they do the job and see where your clean out is located, talk to them about where the clog is and how they locate it, etc. 

I have a house built in 1949 and had repeated problems with the main line clogging (I had already replaced all of the piping in the house and under it).  I hired a plumber once for about $100, then rented an auger from Home Depot the next 4 times (!) for about $50.  Then I was over it and dug up the last remaining cast iron section of piping outside the house and replaced it with PVC.  :-)

Case

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #9 on: May 31, 2016, 02:45:18 PM »
Do you know how long your main drain line is and what its constructed of?  What type of elevation drop do you have between the house and the sewer line?

If its a short line and PVC, its pretty easy to do and clear out yourself.  I fought this issue for three month in a 1950's home but have a fairly flat lot and old cast iron piping and hired a single person plumber (found on Yelp) to clear out the block.  Since then, we've switched to a more biodegradable toilet paper (moved to Scott from Kirkland brand) and are sure to use the shower on the old side of the house for water flow.  We also hold down the toilet handle until a flush is completed.

You have to learn your house and manage it.  We never had these issues before because we had a nice elevation drop and PVC.

So as an update, I had a plumber come by.  We could not find the clean outs (old house), and all the drains have old school bottle-traps that the plumber says he can't get his snake in.  He is proposing to take off the toilet (and put it back later) and snake in from there, which will be $300.  After that, he proposes we install a clean out if we can find the drain line outside of the house; another few hundred dollars.

After he left, I ran the water again and the lines now seem to be draining faster; it look longer to back up then it did previously, but it did eventually back up.  But the back up receded more quickly than before.  So, possibly the clog is getting somewhat cleared.

I just dumped a ton of Draino down the various drains, and am going to let it do its thing, then see what it's like. 
I'm sort of tempted to cancel my plumber appointment for tomorrow... though I'm not necessarily opposed to installing a clean-out.  I'm also running out of time! (2.5 days until I leave town).

CmFtns

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #10 on: May 31, 2016, 03:51:48 PM »
So when I bought my house they did not finish the piping for the bathroom addition and instead just buried the end of the pipe straight into the ground so for about a week we used the bathroom where the end of the plumbing was a wall of dirt. So once I finally figured out what was wrong I had dug up pipe with what was basically a solid wall of blockage at the end...

After a little bit of research I ended up grabbing this at walmart:
http://scotchcorp.com/product/main-line-cleaner/

I poured that in, let it sit, then ran lots of hot water and because the end of the sewer line was uncovered I got to watch what came out... It basically broke everything down and turned solids into an ungodly soupy liquid that flowed out the pipe and it was cleared quickly.

What sold me on it is that they have a 100% money back guarantee and when I was reading reviews I saw that many people actually emailed/called up, emailed in the receipt, and and got the money back if it couldn't solve their problem so I figured what harm in trying it before I go the drain snaked.

PhysicianOnFIRE

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Re: likely clogged main drainage line
« Reply #11 on: May 31, 2016, 05:04:08 PM »
I've had this happen. Had a specialty plumber who deals with sewers and drains come out. He went in with the camera to about 70 - 80 feet where the PVC line became clay underneath the city street before connecting with the main sewer line. Lots of tiny roots invaded every 4 feet or so at the pipe junctions. We had it hydrojetted. Cost $400.  To replace the clay pipe would cost $3000 to $4000 because the street would have to be torn up.

Now, we are flushing a root killer from the hardware store. I believe it's just copper sulfate. Twice a year we'll flush it down the basement toilet and hope for the best. I know it kills snails; I hope it kills roots, too.