Line clogs every 3-4 months, HELP!

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by Victoria126, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. Victoria126

    Victoria126 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    East Texas
    Hello all,

    When I flush, the toilet bowl fills and drains slowly. When the bowl is almost empty, it gurgles intermittently. If it drains rather quickly, the acid clears up the problem. This last time it drained very slowly and after the acid didn't work and after much plunging, sewage came up thru the shower and tub. That's when I decided to snake. When I take the toilet off, I can see a little water/sewage sitting at the bend in the pipe. Even after I snake that's still there, so I'm assuming it's supposed to be. I have a 100' snake and I use almost the entire length. I pull it back and forth as I pull it back out to make sure to get anything left over. Only a few little bits of TP and waste are on the end of the snake.

    Background:
    I moved into a 100+ year old home last April. Since that time I've had to snake the line twice. I don't have a cleanout, so each time, I have to remove the toilet (1 toilet home). Not exactly difficult, but not how I'd like to spend part of my day! I'm a single woman, who's only home a few hours a day. I've always been told I can be full of it, but not literally! ;) At this point I'm flushing as little non-me products down the toilet. I'm on city sewer on almost 1/2 acre with lots of trees (none seem to be around where I THINK the main line is). Each time I snake the line I don't feel any big clogs, nothing like I would expect tree roots to feel like. But since I have no plumbing background and am cutting my teeth on this home, I really have no clue. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    The latest issue was this past Friday. It's currently working OK, but when I came home last night, I could definitely smell something sewage-y. I have a sensitive nose and always thought I could smell something but no one else could.

    After reading these forums, my next plan is to climb up on the roof and check out the vent. Not sure if that's the culprit, but I'm running out of ideas. I had a plumber out the time before last, who snaked the line and then did the acid. He crawled under the house and didn't see anything amiss. His thought was I may have clay pipes that need to be replaced. Unfortunately none of my trees grow money so that's my last resort. Especially since we don't know where the line is and they would just have to start digging up my yard. I'm trying to learn to do as much on my own as possible, especially since I've been taken advantage of before. I do know there's a time to call in the pros, just thought I'd stop by this forum and see if you pros could help me first!

    Sorry this is so long, just wanted to give y'all as much info as possible.
    Victoria :eek:
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,769
    Location:
    New England
    Depending on where the house sits on that lot, it could be further than 100' to the end of the line, and you may not have hit the clog. Also, can you tell us what kind of head is on the snake? if it isn't of sufficient size or type, it may just be poking a hole though things and not really cleaning out the line. It's hard to tell how old and what condition stuff is on a house that old. My unprofessional thoughts...
  3. Victoria126

    Victoria126 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    East Texas
    50' from road

    The house is probably about 50' back from the road. The end of the snake is metal and is rounded with flat sides, probably about 2" in diameter, it also has little teeth that run thru the center of it. The line is about 1/2" flat metal. The house is in pretty good shape. It was basically gutted and redone back in the 80's. I currently have a Crane low-flow toilet. After much research on this site, I'm looking at getting a TOTO Drake. Not sure if that will help the problem, but it certainly can't hurt.

    Victoria :eek:

    Attached Files:

  4. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    clog

    Don't think Toto will help the drain.
    If you have to hire the drain cleaned, think about putting a clean out outside where the sewer comes through the wall..

    Sounds like you may have tree roots and need someone to use a proper electric sewer cleaner with the proper tools on the end. You don't cut the roots as much as you tear them out. The steel tape won't make it.

    No more acid, no more need to go on the roof. A plumber should be able to tell you where the sewer is before you dig. He could witch it probably.
  5. Victoria126

    Victoria126 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    East Texas
    I have a little cleanout that comes out of the side of the house. I snaked that the first time this happened and it didn't seem to do any good. I was told I needed a cleanout that comes out of the ground and is hooked into the main line. Would it be better to have the line professionally cleaned or just bite the bullet and have a new pipe put in? How often would the professional cleaning have to be done? Which is more cost effective?

    That's funny you mention witching, my boss just showed me how to do that today and I plan on trying it this weekend. :D

    Victoria :eek:
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,292
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    A new line will be very costly. I'd sure recommend a professional cleaning and a video be made before jumping to the "Big One". Chemicals won't do it, so forgot about them. As already mentioned, a root cutter should be in you future. If you have clay pipes, one could be broken and a sharp edge could be catching debis. I think the witching referred to is more of an electronic process than a willow stick.
  7. Victoria126

    Victoria126 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    East Texas
    The plumber quoted me $300 for a new cleanout and $500 for a new line. How I love my credit cards, let me count the ways... The new line is definitely a last resort, that's why I really appreciate everyone's input. My plumber also suggested I have the city blast out my lines with their water blaster truck. I'm quite sure not the actual name of the procedure, but you get the gist! I'm just waiting for them to call me back regarding the location of my main line, (they don't keep records just going out to see if they can remember where is it, small town :D) so will talk to them about blasting whenever I hear from them. I'll also look into a professional cleaning.
  8. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,292
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I think your on the right track as far as clearing the line. However, something is causing a problem so even if the high pressure cleaning gets the sewer open, it may only be a temporary fix. If you can get the line replaced and a cleanout installed for under a grand, the next time it clogs, I believe I'd go for the new line. That's a very low cost for a new sewer. A video scoping might show what and where the problem is, but it would cost quite a bit and there would still be the repair to do, so you'd end up spending the what it would cost for a new line.
  9. Victoria126

    Victoria126 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    East Texas
    Where, oh where, has my sewer line gone?

    Well, I've decided to just go ahead and replace the line and have a cleanout installed. I've set up with the city to come out and help me find my main line. Their plan is to remove my toilet and attach a copper wire to the end of my snake and run it down. They then attach the other end of the copper wire to something that has to be grounded outside. Can someone please explain this procedure to me? I'm assuming whatever machine they're hooking it up to gives off some sort of signal as to where the line is, but I have no clue. I try not to look like a moron in front of people I don't know so would like to be a little more informed before they come out. Thanks in advance!

    PS. Any ideas as to why my bathroom smells (sewery smell)? I ran a bath the other night and it almost seems as if the smell is stronger now, but I'm not sure.
  10. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,292
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    It might be a metal detector that will sense the copper wire.
  11. mark1

    mark1 New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Here is my last drain nightmare. The short version. my elec.snake I have had and never used to the 75'. this house is very old no more than 50' or so to the street. No clean out at the street or house. I would sometimes bring small roots back, the drain would go down slow. after snaking forever anyway and everyway. I still had blockage. I pulled my snake out of the machine and measured. I bought a 75' but the machine was only 50'. Strange things happen. I dug in the yard and first try I found the last homemade c/o, busted cast with a piece of lead over it and a small tree growing. I knew the problem was solved. No, it ended up at the street it changed to terra cotta and it was crushed. I had to fix it the city would not. Take what you can from this nightmare.
  12. casman

    casman New Member

    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    New York
    Victoria, I had the same problem in my 100+ year old house. I have relocated the drain line from the washing machine and the problem went away. Apparently, the washer drainage was somehow pushing back any waste in the line which eventually would lead to a clog approx every 3 or 4 months. It had something to do with a Y connection. I had attempted to fix it myself with a leafblower, which didn't work, but I did win 500 bucks from fluidmaster.com....good luck...
  13. finnegan

    finnegan New Member

    Messages:
    250
    Location:
    CT
    First, if you can get a new line from your house to the sewer for $500, go for it. Though, I doubt that quote was for all of that work. It is a lot of work. You probably do have some clay pipe in that run. Was any work recently done around there? if so, it could have crushed the pipe. Perhaps even the work done a while back could have involved some heavy machinery that caused damage to the pipe. I would expect the new run to the sewer to cost in the thousands. I would have the lnie snaked and scoped with a camera before I plunked down the cash. Good luck.
  14. Victoria126

    Victoria126 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    East Texas
    Laundry Room

    When my troubles first began, I snaked the cleanout that comes out of the side of the house, right outside the laundry room. Didn't help any. Out came small bits of TP and other such stuff. Should sewage have come out this line? If not, maybe I'm having the same problem casman had. The only other thing I can think of, is there used to be a sink in my laundry room. I replaced the countertop and decided I'd rather have the counter space. The lines are still there, just capped. Would this have had any adverse effect? I put the new counter in just after I moved in. The house had been vacant for 6mo-1yr before I moved in.

    I do plan on having the plumber crawl under the house and check for any other issues before tearing up the line. Oh and I will print out this whole thread and go over all your ideas with him!! :)

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Feb 2, 2006
  15. robjective

    robjective New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Victoria,

    Since you seem to be a pretty capable do-it-yourselfer, you might want to try renting a sewer camera yourself to diagnose the problem. In the Metro Detroit area, they can be rented at Home Depot for around $150 for four hours. They are very easy to operate and you could even hook up your VCR to record the feed in case you need a professional consult.
  16. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Messages:
    1,423
    Location:
    Florida
    I'd say heck with the camera and just get the drain cleaned.
  17. Victoria126

    Victoria126 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    East Texas
    Septic System??

    Just thought I'd give you all an update. They did the copper wire test and marked out where my sewer line should be. They started digging this morning and so far have come up with only dirt. They've dug three 6ft deep trenches in the area they said the line was and so far nothing. They now think I may have a really old septic tank. Could this be a possibility? I was there when they did the copper wire test and the area they marked is where the buzzer would go silent. The thought of a really old septic system frightens me. How do we find the tank? Just keep digging? Arghhh....
  18. Victoria126

    Victoria126 New Member

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    East Texas
    Hallelujah!

    Thought I'd post my final update so if anyone else has this problem, maybe this will help a bit.

    I ended up calling a previous owner of the home, the one who basically had it redone over 20 years ago. He had all the plumbing done and told me exactly where the sewer line was. Turns out the pipe comes out the side of the house then makes a 90 degree turn towards the street. They were only a few feet away with their original digging. Once dug up, they found the pipe had come apart at the 90 degree turn and come apart under the house. That's where the smell was coming from. This past year was the worst drought Texas has seen in over 50 years, so there was a lot of ground movement. Anyway, they put took out the 90 degree turn and put in 2 bigger pieces to give it a more gradual turn and fixed the separated pipe under the house. I also have a brand spanking new cleanout and they installed my Toto Drake. I can't wait to get home and check it all out! Thanks to everyone here for all your help.
Similar Threads: Line clogs
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Multiple Clogs in Cast Iron Drain Line Oct 10, 2011
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Would old supply line cause low pressure? Jul 2, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Next steps before replacing hot supply line Jul 1, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Gas line for dryer Jun 30, 2014
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & How to vent first floor toilet? Which waste line run is best? Jun 24, 2014

Share This Page