Shower stall filling up/toilet/clothes washer issues

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Barko, Jan 1, 2010.

  1. Barko

    Barko DIY Beginner

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Seattle
    The Setup:
    Our house is on the oldish side, but not ancient. Built in 1953. I'm guessing the plumbing wasn't meant to handle its current load.
    We’ve got two bathrooms. The main bathroom (the one with the tub) is in the back of the house, near the backyard. Bathroom number 2, which is near the front of the house, has a toilet, sink, and a shower stall. This (smaller) bathroom is feet away from the garage, which contains our clothes washer and dryer.

    The Issue
    A few months ago we started to have the following problem: during the clothes washer’s rinse cycle, while the clothes washer was spinning to drain the water out, the toilet in Bathroom 2 would sometimes make gurgling noises.
    Then the shower stall would start to fill with dirty water coming up from the drain. If we weren’t careful, it would overflow and the bathroom would flood.
    If we caught it, and turned off the clothes washer, the shower stall would stop flooding.

    What seems odd and confusing to me: The situation does not always occur, though. Sometimes we can do laundry with no stoppage and no flooding.

    Yesterday my wife ran a load of laundry and the bathroom flooded. Lately I’ve had luck just leaving it alone, and it seems to resolve itself, but yesterday and today seem different. The water level in the toilet will go down and I can get two good healthy flushes out of it, but then the toilet fills up with clean water to the top. When I plunge it, it gurgles and the water level goes back down to a normal level, but the shower stall then starts to fill with dirty water coming up through the drain.

    I may be crazy:
    Part of my theory, and this may be crazy, has to do with the fact that we’ve had some really heavy rain during the past two days. Perhaps wherever the water is supposed to drain to is already flooded from the rains. Like I said, that may be a crazy idea, but I’m trying to isolate why we only have this problem sometimes and not others.

    Can anyone help me with theories to test or actions to take? If you need additional information, feel free to ask and I’ll do my best to answer.
    I am likely to lose my job within the next month and if I can resolve this without paying a pro, my family would be better off.
    Thanks in advance!
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,262
    Location:
    New England
    Are you on a sewer or septic system? If on a septic system, you leach fields may be saturated, and there's no place for the draining water to go. If you are on either, you could have a partial clog in the drain system.
  3. Barko

    Barko DIY Beginner

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Seattle
    Thanks for your quick reply, jadnashua. We are on a sewer system.
    Could you advise me on how to locate/deal with a partial clog or how to determine if that is indeed the problem?
  4. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    That's definetly the problem.

    You need to run an auger machine from a cleanout inside or close to the outside of the house out to the city's sewer main.

    You could also call in for a video inspection if the problem persists after augering. You may have roots or a settled/broken section of pipe.
  5. Barko

    Barko DIY Beginner

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Seattle
    Thanks, Doherty Plumbing.
    Is an auger machine something I can rent/run myself?
    And is the cleanout the big white PVC screw-off cap next to the washing machine in the garage?
    It's starting to sound like a non-DIY project. Am I wrong?



    And I'm going to have to clean the garage to allow a plumber access. Dang.
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2010
  6. Barko

    Barko DIY Beginner

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Seattle
    A while back, we had a plumber (a rooter guy, maybe?) come out with a machine. I didn't know where the cleanout was, so he took this machine (I helped him because it was extremely heavy) up onto the roof in order to clean out our pipes. Does it sound like this was an auger machine? And shouldn't that have fixed the problem?
  7. Doherty Plumbing

    Doherty Plumbing Journeyman & Gas Fitter

    Messages:
    810
    Location:
    Penticton, BC
    That is an auger!!!!!

    You can rent them as to weather or not you can run it that's sort of up to you. There is a bit of an art to it.

    If you have had problems before and he went from the roof down there is a good change he didn't snake all they way out to the city's main.
  8. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,384
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    Those big augers are the only thing that will clean the drain out, but they should be operated by a professional plumber and usually that's a company without "rooter" in their name. These machines can be extremely dangerous for a novice. There have been reports of lost fingers, hands, arms, and even death when an inexperienced DIYer attempted to operate them. Even if you survive without injury, it is very easy to tangle the cable inside the drain and damage the drain and/or the snake. The video inspection is an excellent suggestion as well.
  9. Barko

    Barko DIY Beginner

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Seattle
    Thanks for the info and suggestions. I'll get a plumber on the phone. This forum is a great source of info and it's appreciated.
  10. Barko

    Barko DIY Beginner

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Seattle
    I've got the plumbers out here now and they're talking about sending a camera through the cleanout to see what's up while they clear it. They're quoting me about $800 with the camera. Is that usual?
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2010
  11. Barko

    Barko DIY Beginner

    Messages:
    8
    Location:
    Seattle
    Lots of roots growing through our pipes, causing lots of blockage. Getting it cut out now. Thanks again.
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