HELP! Clog or Septic? Backflow in tub!!!

Discussion in 'Drain Cleaning' started by jamielady, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. jamielady

    jamielady New Member

    Messages:
    14
    I am renting a house and the landlord is out of the country. We are getting what I assume is backflow into the tub and it comes in through toilet also. We do have a septic tank for starters.What causes this to happen is if we use the washer, sometimes the dishwasher, the upstairs toilet, when those waters try to drain the brown goo comes flowing furiously through the toilet and bathtub!! I have to say, it doesnt stink to my surprise. I also have to tell you, FYI, that while I was at my Mothers visiting very recently, my husband bought Kleenex for he and the boys to use(it was on sale he said!)and so my concern is thats what clogged things up. I CAN see the kleenex when things come bubblig into tub and toilet. So who shouldI be calling a setpic tank co. or roto rooter type co.? I went out and bought a snake, but the problem is where to use it. I tried the drain at washing machine but hit something..a lint trap?(is that right term? Then tried under the bathroom sink and again this time about eight inches in I hit something, but this time you could see all the brown goo on the snake when I pulled it out. We are in such a tight financial situation as my husband got laid off. So need to make the right decisions in whom to call. I went to the county enviro health to get the "as" plans to see if I could locate the septic cover, but they didnt have any. I have searched and searched for the cover and cannot find it. I know where the tank is, can see even where the pipe comes out but NO cover. I just dont know what to do...we cant wash, bathe, and the rest we are afraid of too if you get the drift. Please some advise would be a life saver!! I am in Carnation,WA. Thanks, truly!
    Jamie
  2. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    You need to contact the landlord wherever he/she may be!
    If I was sent to your house I would not be allowed to do anything without the landlords consent regardless of who was paying!

    A septic cleaner would be my first suggestion as they:
    1 tend to be less expensive than a "Rooter" named company
    2 usually will clean a tank if needed or rod the line from the tank back to the house if needed
    3 Rooter named companies often do not clean septic tanks.
    4 will usually easily find the tank.
  3. jamielady

    jamielady New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Well I have a dilemma then, as he is in England. I have no way to contact him. Any idea what to do? Thanks for your response!
    Jamie
  4. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,339
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    If he has an email address, he can check it over there as easy as over here.
    You might get a response that way.Tell him its an emergency and explain
    the problem.
  5. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Septis Tank

    Your Husband Needs To Dig Up Tank They Do Not Always Come To The Surface ! !

    Try To Expose The Bottom End Of The Tank Where The Out Flow Goes Open The Lid In Washington State They Are Required To Have Filter Installed In Tank Outlet ! !
    You May See A Little Plastic Handle Or Make Yourself Sometype Of Hook To Reach Inside The Outlet Tee Pull Up Many Times That Will Clear Blocadge
  6. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Septic Tank

    When You Have Filter Out Take Out On Yard Somewhere And Use Garden Hose To Rinse Off Then Reinstall ! ! Must Have In Outlet Tee

    If The Water Level Is Down At That End Then Dig Up The Inlet End Open Lid You Will Find A Tee Inlet And That Is Where The Blockadge Is.
    If Lifting The Outlet Filter And Clearing The Inlet Baffle Does Not Solve Problem And Still Backing Up Inside, Then Call Rooter Drain Cleaning Co. Many Times They Are Cheaper Then A Regular Plumbing Co. Charges.

    If Tank Is Full Call Out A Pumper Co.


    But Many, Many, Many, Times I Have Cleared By Steps #1 Or #2

    At 125.00 To 155.00 Dollars Per Call Out.


    Please Let Us Know What Works For You
  7. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Wow! Washington State must have been very ambitious when they passed that law. Every tank in the whole state has been upgraded or, retrofited with and outlet filter? I would imagine that contractors came from every state around for that bonanza! Here some tanks have them and some tanks don't it all depends on when they were installed.

    If they can'tfind the tank I can't possibly imagine them finding the outlet cover. Personally I'd dig the inlet cover to check that first if I was doing any digging.
  8. jamielady

    jamielady New Member

    Messages:
    14
    I basically know where the tank is..on the side of the house the landlord briefly pointed out where the septic tank is when we were first looking at the house to rent. There is a mound of sorts where he pointed. I can see the (black about 4 inch piping) coming from the house towards the tank area. I just cannot locate the tank cover. I just dont want to pay tons extra to have them try to locate it for me. My husband cannot do all of the reccomended, as he was injured on top of it. Landlord is not checking emails apparantly or I would have heard by now from him. If someone could give pointers in locating tank cover that would be helpful. So is a clog ruled out?
  9. cwhyu2

    cwhyu2 Consultant

    Messages:
    1,339
    Location:
    Cincinnati OH
    You can use a probe with a point.It should be about 3ft long and have handle
    to push down on.Go to where you think the tank is and start by pushing
    down into the dirt,if it goes more than 2 ft deep you have to keep probing
    untill you feel the probe bottom out a ft or less.That is probily the top of
    the tank.You can keep probing untill you find the edge of the tank or start
    digging untill you find the cover.I`ve used this process many times with
    good results,but it can be frustrating and time consuming.Just keep at it
    and you will find it.
    Clay
  10. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    Septic Tank

    No A Drain Blockage Is Not Ruled Out But By Professal Experience

    Most Times The Problem Is Related To The Septic Tank
    No

    "no" Plumber Or Drain Cleaner Is Gonna Run A Sewer Cable Down A Drain Blind They Must Dig Up Tank First ! ! !
    You Have No Ideal What 20 Or 40' Of Sewer Cable Looks Like After Getting Tangled Up In A Tank If You Can Even Get It Back ? ?
  11. Ian Gills

    Ian Gills Senior Robin Hood Guy

    Messages:
    2,777
    Location:
    USA
    I am a landlord (strangely enough I own a property in the UK and live in the US), and I really must say that this is the landlord's responsibility.

    A sensible landlord would not want the tenant to attempt such a repair.

    He will contact you. Just delay this month's rent.

    I can't believe he left the country without leaving someone to manage the property.
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2008
  12. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,335
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Just to add a note to Ian's comments. I would find it hard to believe that there is NO way to contact the owner. Surely he has friend and/or relatives in the US and has left contact information with at least some of them. This is a rather pressing issue that should not have to wait for him to decide to call home to check on the rent being late. It will require a little bird dogging on your part to find who has this contact information, but it really needs attention now. If this is futile, then perhaps if you contact your local health department and explain the problem to them, they might know of a way to get an emergency order to permit the work be done without the landlord's permission.
  13. jamielady

    jamielady New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Thanks and a Poll?

    Unfortunatley, he is not the type of landlord who thinks in such terms. I have had wonderful landlords, and this has been a nightmare from the get-go. I have contacted the county's housing authority, enviromental dept. etc...We live in an un-incorporated part of the county which doesnt give us the same options. Our rent isnt due til'' the 15th which is still a bit of a ways out. In the meantime having all of the facilities available is my priority. I just went outside and have been trying to poke holes along the "pipeline" and tuckered out and came back in to check for responses,lol! It snowed this weekend, but the ground isnt too bad. I kept following the trail but when I go to the "mound" it seems like it was changing...Aaaggh..I dont know! LOL! Im a woman who is not afraid to get her hands dirty, I'll give it my best shot at the very least! I'd just rahter not have to do anymore(pardon me for being blunt) "poop-duty" if it backs up again!( If thats what that is)
    So my poll/question is:
    A)Do I call a Plumber?
    or
    B) the Septic Pumper who states it will be $400 to pump, and $85 to simply dig up the cover, that doesnt of course include locating the cover. My fear is that could just go on and on...we dont have those kind of funds.
    Please know, that I understand that there are no simple answers or quick fixes. Just hoping for a lead in the right direction given our circumstances.
    Thanks Fellas! I DO appreciate your help!
    Jamie
  14. jamielady

    jamielady New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Im working on that part... He lives about a four hour drive from here, and if worse comes to worse I'll drive that way. Trust me when I say, Ive been trying! I even tracked down a former tennant whom explained this is exactly why she moved and had to sue him due to similar issues that were serious. Too bad there isnt a "landlord" screening like a tennant screening before one rents from someone. And no, the tennant had no clue as to where the cover was, and states it had never been emptied when they lived here. Shes been very kind and helpful as much as she can! Eventually it will get dealt with, but for us, the sooner, the better!
    PS. I have been googling for peope with same last name etc... to find someone whom might be related etc..
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2008
  15. SourKraut

    SourKraut New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Long Guyland, New Yawk
    I agree with most that there must be a way to contact the landlord, however, you have a serious health issue to contend with, especially with small children in the house. Leave the landlord with a series of e-mails/phone messages and save them for you records because you need to have the health department involved. ACT IN YOUR BEST INTEREST WHEN IT COMES TO THE HEALTH OF YOUR FAMILY! Keep good records and a timeline and any prior info you can get in documents from the previous tenant to prove this is a problem to a judge (if it comes to that). If he(landlord) doesn't respond in a timely matter (I have in my lease 24 hours) proceed to fix the problem ASAP. Your landlord is irresponsible, PERIOD, regardless how nice they be, they rented you a home in good faith to be a safe place for your family's health at the very least. Unbelievable. Best wishes/luck that it's resolved quickly.
  16. jamielady

    jamielady New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Thank you I completely agree! I have been doing exactly that. My Mother always taught me to keep records of everything!! I am going to talk to someone at the city council where I live in my small town, he coached my son in basketball. Maybe he can lead me in a good direction.
  17. jamielady

    jamielady New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Update

    Upon waiting to hear back from Septic companies, I decided to give the snake I bought another try under the bathroom sink. I got through this time. It did seem to make a difference. I then used the toilet auger again and I could hear new bubbly sounds in a new spot next to the toilet. So back to the sink I did it a couple more times. It was difficult but with the type of snake that hooks up to your drill it was helpful! I tired the upstairs toilet just flushing water since no one has used it, and the water still comes back a little high, but its flushing without coming back into the tub. I will wait a bit and see if its still better or back to the same old. Maybe it is a clog? Hmm... LOL, no offense fellas, but Im glad youre the plumbers and not me!! Hats off to you!! :)
  18. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I'm going to say give up on the DIY approach...
    The auger is not long enough to reach the problem.
    The snake you are using is not strong enough.

    As I suggested the septic tank cleaner is your best bet!
  19. jamielady

    jamielady New Member

    Messages:
    14
    Well now you can't blame a gal for trying, now can you?! :)
    I put in a few calls to different places for the septic. No one has returned my calls yet..(maybe because its snowing here?) Went outside and got a better perspective on where the tank is located, found outside edge so far towards house so am getting closer! But the weather is very bizarre here in the Seattle area with snow, then hail, then lightening, and back and forth so quit for today on that project. Hopefully by tomorrow I'll have this all taken care of! Thanks again!
  20. BAPlumber

    BAPlumber Plumber

    Messages:
    227
    Location:
    Vashon, Washington
    now that you've found the tank, start uncovering the top until you find the access lids. What type of pipe do you see leaving the house cast iron or plastic.

    there is the possibility that you also have a pump on the septic system. Sometimes the pump wires can be seen on the outside of the house plugged into an outlet, or there may be an alarm box mounted to the outside of the house.
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