Backup in upstairs bathroom

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by atljogger, Dec 26, 2008.

  1. atljogger

    atljogger New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Hi - first time poster. We have a sewer backup in our 2nd floor (not ground level) master bathroom. This is a 2-story single family house, slab, 2000 construction. Clog is most noticeable with toilet and shower (flushing toilet causes shower to overflow with junk) but apparently the entire bathroom is clogged. I snaked the toilet and shower and was unsuccessful. We called out a plumber b/c we have a 1-year home warranty. He snaked the shower to about 25ft and toilet. He said he could not remove the toilet b/c it is grouted and tiled in - he was pretty sure the toilet would break and home warranty wont cover damage. Got the snake pretty far down it though.

    His prognosis is that this is a main line clog. He said our house does not have an access point, so he will have to build one through our attic where the line goes to the roof. Apparently our home warranty only covers ground level cleanout, so without an access point on the ground we pay out of pocket. $400 is his estimate for the attic access and cleanout.

    1. Since this house is built in 2000, shouldn't there be a main line access valve somewhere outside? They guy didn't really look around for it from what i could tell. He told me 90% of houses dont have one. I couldn't find it but then I am a novice - looked on side of house where the attic line was. The water heater is on other side of wall in garage as well - no valve that i can see in garage or on ground.

    2. We called out Roto Rooter for free estimate and 2nd opinion. Plumber said this was not a main line problem b/c we aren't having problems with downstairs plumbing or the 2nd bathroom upstairs. He believes the clog is in the primary master bath line - he said that if we remove the toilet, we will find it. He thinks he can remove the toilet, but we will have to take out the grout ourselves before he does his thing. We also have to sign waiver in case they damage toilet or tile floor - we are liable. Charge is $400 for toilet removal / clean-out (not incl. damages).

    Should I go with one option or the other? I've never removed a toilet myself but am also worried that Roto Rooter will damage our tile work. Is there a main line access on the ground that could be hard to find? Any advice is appreciated.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    It doesn't sound like any cleanout on the ground level would be of any help. Often, the toilet ( removal of same ) qualifies as the cleanout on the second floor.

    A hand held carbide grout scraper should remove the grout so toilet can be lifted. But , there is an "iffy" factor, so I understand their reluctance.
  3. Jay Mpls

    Jay Mpls Master plumber

    Messages:
    98
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Best option here,pull the toilet but the access is 2" via a shower drain.That is often ok to break loose a clog if it is just paper.
    This serves as a perfect reason one doesn't grout the toilet down.
    Being a newer house means you likely have plastic drains.(To your advantage!)
    An inside main line clog is unusual but not impossible.
    Your first man 'should' have had some luck.In most cases 25' there should have been plenty.
    Help whatever shop you go with by scraping the grout away and either getting this toilet loose or breaking it!It is this or open a wall somewhere to gain access to the stack!
    What part of the country are you in?(Atl. GA?)Is the roof an option?(Not for me!)
    Good luck.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2008
  4. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Roto Rooter is right! The Toilet comes up! Git R Done!
  5. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    Buy a grout rake from the hardware store. It has a carbide tip that removes grout using a back and forth motion of the hand. If that is too slow, you can chip away at it with a small cold chisel (or flat screwdriver) and a hammer.
  6. atljogger

    atljogger New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Thanks for the input guys. I am in Atlanta - roof access is on the side where it slopes off. Plumber said he would not go up on the roof. Sounds like removing the toilet is the way to go? Sorry, I'm a DIY beginner - does removing the toilet give you access to another main line that you couldn't reach otherwise? We did snake the toilet pretty far down and didn't reach any clogs.

    There is a bathroom directly below master on the ground level. That toilet is not grouted in - wonder if its possible to remove that one and snake from there? Regardless, sounds like the toilet option is the way to go in our case. I will pick up a grout scraper and take it from there. Thanks!
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008
  7. Ladiesman271

    Ladiesman271 Homeowner

    Messages:
    221


    Forget the toilet removal. Go with the plumbers option. Same cost, no damage to anything and new main drain access point for future use. The alternate is to work on the roof down the main vent.

    I flush water down my vents each year (same time I clean my gutters).
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2008
  8. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    The longest toilet augur is 6 feet. If you put some other kind of cable through, then (a) it was to small to do any good, and (b) if you jammed it and twisted it enough to even get through the toilet, you are lucky if you do not have permanent scratches in the throat of the bow.
  9. SewerRatz

    SewerRatz Illinois Licensed Plumber

    Messages:
    1,706
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Them 6' augers are extendable, not many go out and buy the extension cables, but you can add another 6 foot to it.
  10. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I use a 3' closet auger!
    If that does not reach the clog it is time for the toilet to come up and proper drain cleaning equipment to be used.
    Closet augers are not for cleaning pipes!
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