Main Line Backup While Cleaning? How'd That Happen?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Robert Herbert, May 28, 2011.

  1. Robert Herbert

    Robert Herbert New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    While the plumber was cleaning the main line it backed up into the master bath and flooded the floor. How could that have happened?! I thought his job was to prevent just that from happening.

    Now he says he will have to jackhammer the floor in the master bath and through the bedroom in addition to replacing the main line to the street. Also, the bath cabinets will have to be replaced, the flooring replaced, etc. My insurance policy does not cover sewage backups.

    1. How could he have flooded the bath while cleaning and would sleeving be an answer? 2. What should I see from the camera to determine whether the main line needs replacing?

    All advice is most appreciated.
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,136
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    I think many plumbers will run water while snaking to float away the junk they are cutting and loosening up.
    Putting a camera down the line might show the condition of the line, and problems. Once a pipe leaves the house, anything can happen. Tree roots, the ground settling, or even someone punching a hole in a line after the fact.

    I wouldn't assume there needs to be a replacement unless I could clearly see it on video.
    Sometimes you cut a few roots out and you're good to go again.

    Your insurance doesn't cover?
    I've heard of insurance not covering the plumbing work itself, but often it will cover the damage to the home.

    If the plumber was called out on a main line backup, it sounds like it was already a problem.
    Sorry it's a mess. My daughters home needed carpets after her husband notice the toilet overflowing the bowl, and then going back upstairs to shower and clean up. When he came back down, all that shower water had forced more sewage out of the toilet bowl and ruined even more carpet.
    At least at that point he quit using more water.

    I've run a snake a few times over the years, and you would think that someone would be paying attention to the water on the floor.
    The idea is to make less of a problem, not more.
    Last edited: May 28, 2011
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,843
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    If he was running water and was not paying attention to what was happening, that could cause the flood. IF he was using a water jetter, that could definitely cause a flood before the line was unplugged. I do not know what you mean by "sleeving" but I cannot see how it would have any effect on a backup. BUT, from the little you have told us, I cannot see ANY reason for breaking ANY floors. And without visual evidence, I might question why he has to replace the line to the street. My confidence meter for this "plumber" is bumping close to zero. YOU might not be able to see anything in a video, but a "real" plumber, not one trying to sell you something yo do not need, could determine what, if anything, needs to be done.
    Last edited: May 28, 2011
  4. Robert Herbert

    Robert Herbert New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Sleeve clarification

  5. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    If it was mine I'd want information I could trust and that would entail either me or, someone I can trust observing the camera inspection of the pipe.

    Yes if you have a pipe problem many times it can be relined as you describe.
    Without breaking up the floor...

    As for the water backing up, someone ran water into a clogged line....
    I don't know who it was but I have often had people flush while I'm working...
    Not fun....
  6. SacCity

    SacCity In the Trades

    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Sacramento, CA
    As noted above - do not remove the floors or replace the sewer line to the street until you see a video of the problem.
    Do not jump the gun and let them proceed to replace the lines until you get at least three quotes for the same scope of work.

    Again I agree it sounds like there was an error when trying to clear the line of running water that flooded the unit.
    But it may not have been the drain cleaner that was the issue.

    On the last four-plex that I did, when walking in the two downstairs units were completly flooded, water lapping over the top of the bathtubs. Spent two hours moving sewage with a bucket, get ready to pull the toilet for access to the main line and more water comes gushing out.

    Seems that the tenant in the unit I was working in started doing dishes, and the tenant in the adjacent unit was cleaning her bathroom while I am fighting with raw sewage gushing out the closet flange. Sometimes hard to convience the tenants that just because the upstairs toilet flushes does not mean that they should use it.....
    Michael
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,843
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    They do NOT sleeve a "bad section of pipe". They reline the inside of the entire pipe, and it is expensive. The pipe itself has to be in good shape other than for cracks which allow roots into it. IF the pipe is broken or deformed the liner would either NOT adhere to it, or would just take the shape of the defect, which would not help the problem, so you would have to resort to "pipe bursting" and replacement which is a different process and even more expensive. Until you know EXACTLY what, if anything, is wrong with the pipe, it is fruitless to discuss how to fix it.
  8. Robert Herbert

    Robert Herbert New Member

    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    Baton Rouge, LA
    Thanks guys. This really helps. I've learned a lot.
  9. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    There is now available a spot repair relining. This does have a substantial cost reduction over relining the entire pipe...

    However, The camera will tell the feasibility of different types of repair. It is the 1st step!
  10. Gsalet

    Gsalet George the Plumber

    Messages:
    83
    Location:
    San Francisco
    Make sure you talk to the plumber personally, to hear his story....... sometimes there is a logical answer
  11. PlumbersSanJose

    PlumbersSanJose San Jose Plumber

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    San Jose
    Definitely ask him what happended before subjecting him to the judge and jury with only circumstantial evidence.
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