Sewer Line problem

Discussion in 'Drain Cleaning' started by sjg, Mar 3, 2007.

  1. sjg

    sjg New Member

    Messages:
    3
    We are in the process of remodeling a basement in a 50 year old ranch house when the sewage line backed up into the shower basin next to the toilet. There was an outside sewage line protection policy in effect so we called & when the plumbers came they worked for many hours to unclog the line with a 3/4" eel. They felt the clog was 5' away from the shower drain where the toilet enters. They suggested we pay them 400$ to pressure wash the inside of the line from the outside vent in(approx. 50'). This house has iron or steel sewer lines & there is still a sewer gas smell & some toilet paper shreds showing up in the shower drain trap water. There is also sewer gas smell in a basement drain beyond the clog. We can flush the toilets & see the water flowing in the vent outside. Should I follow the plumbers advice or try some othe approach. Any Suggestions would be appreciated.
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,641
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    drain

    If they were trying to snake it properly with the right "eel", and could not get it unplugged, then there is either a problem with the sewer or the plumbers. If it is the sewer, then jetting it will not cure the problem, and might only make it better for a very short time, if at all.
  3. sjg

    sjg New Member

    Messages:
    3
    could it be a venting proble

    We recently had bathroom fixtures installed on the first floor of the ranch house and the problem started soon after. Im wondering if ther is a venting problem caused by this installation and the traps are siphoning in the basement and slow waste removal causing the clogged line. Does this make sense and how would I check it. Also I dont think they were using the right eel. They just had the cable bent over at the tip. No head on It. I was looking at the oatey air admittace valves & wondered if I installed one of these somewhere on the main linein the basement if that could solve my problem though i am not sour where I would put it.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2007
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,015
    Location:
    New England
    A vent would have no effect on the line getting blocked, so look elsewhere. Get someone that knows what they are doing and has the right equipment.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,641
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    ?

    If they had that kind of equipment, they were not drain cleaners and might not even have been plumbers. Even if that snake had opened the line it would have been a half, or quarter, way job and completely useless against roots.
  6. Dan Pick

    Dan Pick New Member

    Messages:
    62
    Location:
    Speedway, IN
    Same thing here in Indiana

    Does your sewer line exit your house below the level of the basement floor? I would assume yes the way you are describing it. I had a similar situation.

    I have a 50 YO ranch and the sewer line is below the grade of the basement floor. When I had a clog several years ago I noticed a back up in the downstairs toilet and tub. I called a (highly recommended) local drain cleaning company and they cleared the line with a power auger (not sure of the terminology here). It was a 2" CI (cast iron) line, since it was a branch line that fed into the main. The gentleman was very knowledgeable about his work and was very diligent. It took him about 1 1/2 hours to open up the line of tree roots. The drain worked well for the 3 years since I had it cleaned.

    I'm now in the process of remodeling that downstairs bathroom. I removed a 4 1/2' enamaled steel tub and noticed the 11' horizontal 2" CI line that is fed from the kitchen sink, dishwasher, water softener, clothes washer, and laundry sink was broken and was only feeding into the "drain pit" for the tub. It always smelled a little foul in the basement and I never knew the source of the odor. It didn't smell like sewer gas, more of just a musty stagnant water smell. Once I removed the tub I saw the line was broken. I have a concrete cutting company coming on Tuesday of this week to open up a 11' x 12" trench so we can replace the pipe.

    In my case all of the water accumlating in the "drain pit" was only gray water, which explains why it didn't smell like sewer gas.

    I hope this "long winded" story helps you be aware of what you might be looking at as far as a potential problems.
  7. sjg

    sjg New Member

    Messages:
    3
    thanks for the help

    I think I am headed in the right direction now, The contract I purchased monthly from the local gas company sent the drain cleaner crew(1 Man) & I stayed with him while he worked. Since my contract only covered outside lines naturally he told me the clog was under the cement in the bathroom although his snake was going through to the outside vent 25' behind the house. I think I will call again & ask for a drain cleaner call with a eelhead on the cleaner and then ask for a look see with the camera. I may even suggest I will split the cost with them if they give me a hard time. I suspect the whole drain needs replaced under the concrete. I found where they are now pulling through the drain line with the new line while breaking up the old one. I don't know if that is cheaper though. Wouldn't the drain line under the basement be terra cotta pipe if it is 50 years old? I would think the clog would be the terra cotta breaking up. :eek: Any help appreciated
  8. skyjack

    skyjack New Member

    Messages:
    1
    similar story here in Wisconsin

    We had Ro*o Roo*er come in a couple of weeks ago and run an eel about 98' out to the city main through our sewer lateral. The guy spent 3.5 hrs trying to unclog the lateral and said he kept pulling the eel out with shiny blades. This, he explained, was probably because of a dropped or shifted clay sewer pipe segment which most likely narrowed the available diameter of the sewer line for waste to flow out of.

    I had the city come out and inspect their main - they said it was all clear.

    The Ro*o Roo*er guy said we would have to have a scope sent through the lateral, but in order to do this they would have to break our basement floor and put in some kind of PVC pipe at an angle that would allow the plumbing company to get the scope in. Apparently, the way the pipe at the front of the house is set now, it won't allow a scope down due to a right angle junction.

    What I'm wondering is: how much do people estimate this kind of thing might cost? What's a reasonable amount to expect without getting gouged?

    If they discover with the scope that a sewer pipe segment has shifted or has been broken, does anyone here have any idea what *that* repair costs?

    The city guy suggested we wait a couple of months to see whether our sewer backs up again, but I'm really not interested in cleaning up more raw sewage out of my basement.
  9. Dan Pick

    Dan Pick New Member

    Messages:
    62
    Location:
    Speedway, IN
    From what I been told everything under the slab is CI (cast iron) soil pipe and that it extends 18" past the basement walls. Is is clay field tile (terra cotta)from there to the sewer. Several people in the neighborhood have had the sewer line replaced with PVC.
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