Can a more robust flush help this problem?

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George Newman

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We're in Arizona and live in an ordinary 3br/2ba ranch style home which is 25 years old. In the last six years, we've had three sewer backups which were easily cleared by plumber using a snake to push through the blockage into the main sewer. There were no tree roots reported.

After the last blockage about a month ago, we had a camera placed in the line and it was discovered that there exists a dip or low spot in the line about 15 feet beyond the cleanout in the front yard. There is always some standing water in the dip or low spot.

This dip appears to be beneath the sidewalk and the street. This defect is the result of carelessness on the part of the builder and the city inspector at the time. Now, 25 years later, we have no recourse and to correct this defect could cost as much as $5,000 and involves digging up the street, etc.

We are very careful now about what we put into the toilet and we flush twice for solids. Only small amounts of toilet paper are put into the toilet. We don't use the kitchen disposer at all. Although we've been okay since the last blockage, I feel we can do better if we have a more robust flush, all things considered.

The people who sold us the house had replaced the old toilets with new ones that use only 1.6 gallons per flush. The toilet carries the name of American Standard but we're told that it's one of those cheap models made exclusively for home depot. The toilets produced what I would call a lazy flush, even if I hold the handle down for several seconds.

I believe that if I could get a more robust flush that it would help pushing the outflow through the dip in the line better than it does now.

My first question is such possible?

If it is, what is the best replacement toilet(s)? I understand that the Toto Drake is a candidate?

Also, would I benefit from having one of the new adjustable flappers installed. Or any other parts or equipment that might help in this regard.

Whatever I might have to spend to improve this situation is chump change compared to the cost of digging up the sidewalk and street.

Any suggestions would be welcome and appreciated.

Thanks,

George in Arizona
 

jadnashua

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A different toilet probably won't help. Even with a pressure assisted toilet, the velocity slows fairly quickly once it gets into the main line.

On a modern toilet, the tank holds more water than used in a single flush...if you hold the handle down, on most, it will empty the tank. That doesn't necessarily help the waste carry down the line. It's not unusual for waste to not make it all the way down with the first flush. The next one will move everything in the line down a bit further until it eventually gets to the main in the street IF the slope is correct. There isn't a huge amount of push from that short plug of water. That coming out of say the washing machine, being pumped, tends to flow quicker and longer.

You probably should budget to fix the line. It's something now, should you try to sell the house, since you know about it, you'd be required to disclose, and could affect the sale.
 

George Newman

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A different toilet probably won't help. Even with a pressure assisted toilet, the velocity slows fairly quickly once it gets into the main line.

On a modern toilet, the tank holds more water than used in a single flush...if you hold the handle down, on most, it will empty the tank. That doesn't necessarily help the waste carry down the line. It's not unusual for waste to not make it all the way down with the first flush. The next one will move everything in the line down a bit further until it eventually gets to the main in the street IF the slope is correct. There isn't a huge amount of push from that short plug of water. That coming out of say the washing machine, being pumped, tends to flow quicker and longer.

You probably should budget to fix the line. It's something now, should you try to sell the house, since you know about it, you'd be required to disclose, and could affect the sale.


Jim,

Thanks for the reply. I appreciate the points you raise. I'm only seeking a small amount of flush improvement and believe I can get that by either making modifications to the flapper (from what I've read on this site) or by installing a better toilet. When one considers spending more than $5,000 (it could be much higher) to dig up the sidewalk and city street to correct this defect in the line and not be assured that even this will correct the problem as opposed to trying a minor upgrade, it's imperative that one weigh the risks. Please note that we've had exactly three backups in six years. We've learned in that time to follow certain preventive measures such as putting nothing except natural waste and small amounts of toilet paper into the line. We don't use our kitchen disposer. It appears all this measures have minimized backups to one every two years. And we're still working on additional measures such as getting a more robust flush.

And should we experience a backup, the rooter man's charge is $75.00 to clear the line. One must consider these numbers in making a decision. We're in our eighties and our house won't be sold until we're gone, so no worries about disclosure.

Still would appreciate more suggestions, advice. Thank you.
 

Reach4

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How about getting the sewer rodded from the yard cleanout annually? What does that run -- $175?

I think $5000 is way optimistic if the flaw runs under the street.
 

Bannerman

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If the cause of the problem is located outside of your property boundary, are you responsible for fixing it or is the city?
 

jadnashua

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Usually, the line from the house to where it connects to the utility's line is the homeowner's responsibility. Now, if you could prove some work done by the city or utility damaged your line, you'd have recourse. If the sidewalks, for example, were not installed when the house was built, the heavy equipment used to excavate and fabricate them could have compressed things and changed the pitch. But, if the pipe was properly installed, that normally wouldn't happen.
 

Terry

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A pressure assist toilet works well for pushing things down the line a long ways.
Kohler makes a pressure assist Highline with a Flushmate tank.
 
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