Open pipe in basement drain issue

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JD MO

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I've been having an on again off again issue with a drain and have been searching forums to see if I can find someone with a similar issue but haven't had any luck since I think its a fairly unique situation.

I have two sewer line connections in my house. The house was expanded 20 years ago so I believe they may have added the new sewer line then. The primary sewer line has all but one drain line on it so all bathrooms and the washer/dryer drain to the main sewer line in the garage. The kitchen drain (and dishwasher) drain into a line about 15 feet away, in the basement (pictured). Apologies for the mediocre pictures but it was tough to get the right angle.

In the first picture the pvc vertical pipe on the left is the drain pipe from the kitchen. The pipe on the right (connected to the p trap) is open on the top and is the one causing me problems. I'm assuming its some sort of vent pipe as there's no other venting on this line. What happens is that sometimes if the kitchen drain gets slow (like if the disposal had put a lot down there) the water will overflow from that vent pipe into the basement. Its particularly a problem if the dishwasher runs and sends a lot of waster down the drain. Since its lower than the drain, even with the p trap that seems to be its point of exit.

I've had a professional come in and look at it but he seemed inexperienced and over his head. His only suggestions were to snake the line and that "maybe the gradient of the horizontal pipe is the problem". He didn't seem confident in that answer and I don't think that would fully fix things. Snaking the line bought time but any time the drain slows its a potential to happen. We'll go months without it happening and then it will happen again.

I'm assuming I can't cap it (I'm assuming a vent pipe is needed). Also if you look at the second and third pictures you'll see clear tubing as the A/C condensate pump and dehumidifier drain into there. I'm not sure if those draining into there pose an issue. I think another part of the problem is that its a three inch pipe but not sure how big a factor that is. I've kicked around a lot of ideas (changing to 4 inch pipe, extending the p trap or drain pipe to force it to travel a longer distance) but I'm only a DIYer so have no idea if they would do anything. Part of me just wants to disconnect the drain from this sewer line and connect it to the other one but not sure that's necessary or best. I have no problem hiring a pro to do whatever needs to be done but after the first bad experience I wanted to try to get some ideas before calling one.

So anyone have any suggestions on a more permanent fix? Appreciate any guidance anyone could offer. Thank you.


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Tuttles Revenge

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That is not a vent pipe. Its an Indirect drain for the small tube (probably from a condensate pump) to drain into. The bend at the bottom is a P-trap which prevents sewer gasses from entering your home. The bottom of the trap is filled with water which is how a p-trap prevents gasses from passing. The reason you're getting waste dumping out there is because something downstream of that or the entire run of PVC is clogged. The connection most downstream where it exits through the foundation looks like its going to be a problem because there isn't enough of a bend in that transistion from where the PVC transitions down to the horizontal cast iron. Very likely tho, you will find that the PVC has a layer of goop built up inside of it and a cable / drain cleaning would likely solve your issue. However, the problem may persist if its caused by the bad connection at the cast iron.

In fact, upon closer inspection of the first photo, the connection of the PVC to the Steel drain looks like they connected 2" PVC to 1.5" Steel... That is very likely the source of your problem. That connection needs to be addressed. A closer picture there will give us the answer..

And if the plumber you called couldn't figure that out, definitely don't call them back
 

JD MO

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Thank you so much for the help. I appreciate the detail on the indirect drain piece; that really helps my understanding. I've attached a few additional pictures showing the connection from the PVC to the steel. Like you said there is a steel piece that's narrower where the PVC meets the steel that is narrower.

So is the best course of action to snake the PVC and then address the narrow connection point?

Definitely going to be with a new plumber. It was an established place I called but I think all they heard was clogged drain and sent a new guy out. At the time all I cared about was getting the immediate problem fixed which he did at least.

Appreciate all of the help.


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wwhitney

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Like you said there is a steel piece that's narrower where the PVC meets the steel that is narrower.
Your coupling says 2" plastic to 2" copper. So if that's really copper (OD should be 2-1/8", circumference 6.676"), you don't have an improper narrowing as far as pipe size. There could still be (and sure is) an internal blockage.

Cheers, Wayne
 

JD MO

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Your coupling says 2" plastic to 2" copper. So if that's really copper (OD should be 2-1/8", circumference 6.676"), you don't have an improper narrowing as far as pipe size. There could still be (and sure is) an internal blockage.

Cheers, Wayne


Thanks Wayne. Its not currently blocked or at least not fully as we're able to use both sink and dishwasher without issue. Its overflowed once or maybe twice in the past few months. I have no problem getting the drain snaked but was curious if there's a way to prevent the issue in the future or just lower the risk. A few times now we found out the hard way that the drain was slowed by dumping a few gallons of water in the basement. I have water alarms in that area now but was hoping there was something to try to fully prevent it.
 

JD MO

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That is not a vent pipe. Its an Indirect drain for the small tube (probably from a condensate pump) to drain into. The bend at the bottom is a P-trap which prevents sewer gasses from entering your home. The bottom of the trap is filled with water which is how a p-trap prevents gasses from passing. The reason you're getting waste dumping out there is because something downstream of that or the entire run of PVC is clogged. The connection most downstream where it exits through the foundation looks like its going to be a problem because there isn't enough of a bend in that transistion from where the PVC transitions down to the horizontal cast iron. Very likely tho, you will find that the PVC has a layer of goop built up inside of it and a cable / drain cleaning would likely solve your issue. However, the problem may persist if its caused by the bad connection at the cast iron.

In fact, upon closer inspection of the first photo, the connection of the PVC to the Steel drain looks like they connected 2" PVC to 1.5" Steel... That is very likely the source of your problem. That connection needs to be addressed. A closer picture there will give us the answer..

And if the plumber you called couldn't figure that out, definitely don't call them back

Just realized my response didn't go in a a reponse. Still learning the site. Thanks for your help Tuttle! Just added more pictures showing the connection.
 

Tuttles Revenge

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Did the plumber snake just the Plastic drain or the cast iron as well? I think he would have brought in a rather large mainline machine if he had gone down the big pipe. Coould be that the sewer has a blockage out side of the home too.. That connection needs some help, but its not the Worst ever and fixing it may require digging in the exterior and a hole in the concrete wall as we can see there isn't sufficient room to add a band onto the tee on its horizontal. We have a rule for our customers that if they have to snake more than once a year for main line, then its time to fix the Root cause. Sewer repair can get really expensive.

And I might give that guy a pass if he was only asked to do drain cleaning... I'm the least experienced drain cleaner in our company so he could be really good at that, but not nearly as good at problem solving other issues. We all start somewhere.
 

JD MO

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Did the plumber snake just the Plastic drain or the cast iron as well? I think he would have brought in a rather large mainline machine if he had gone down the big pipe. Coould be that the sewer has a blockage out side of the home too.. That connection needs some help, but its not the Worst ever and fixing it may require digging in the exterior and a hole in the concrete wall as we can see there isn't sufficient room to add a band onto the tee on its horizontal. We have a rule for our customers that if they have to snake more than once a year for main line, then its time to fix the Root cause. Sewer repair can get really expensive.

And I might give that guy a pass if he was only asked to do drain cleaning... I'm the least experienced drain cleaner in our company so he could be really good at that, but not nearly as good at problem solving other issues. We all start somewhere.

I don't know if this would make sense but I actually think he may have snaked only the cast iron. The machine he had with him was fairly large (like a push snow blower size) He worked only in the basement; he did nothing from the kitchen other than run water after. He had taken the large cleanout cap off and was working from there. He didn't disconnect anything else so whatever he did he did from the connection at the foundation wall. Not sure if it would be typical to snake upward from that point but I got the impression in talking with him that he went outward into the sewer not upward into the PVC.

If it did end up being a sewer issue I'd be more inclined to re-route that drain to go on the line with the others since that line hasn't had any issues (knock on wood). Thanks again.
 

Tuttles Revenge

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It might be a good idea to run a small cable down from the kitchen sink drain through that entire PVC assembly. But going downwards, not up in your case. He may have looked down the cleanout at the end of the horizontal PVC and determined it was clear too so that he wouldn't need to cable that line?
 

Fitter30

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The horizontal line from the y to the cast has only a small drop not a 1/4" per foot. Remove the clean out at the y and inspect with a lite could be clogged with old soap.
 

wwhitney

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The horizontal line from the y to the cast has only a small drop not a 1/4" per foot.
That issue would be easy to fix:

- Loosen the top of the rubber coupling, may need to loosen the bottom a little too.
- Pull the horizontal PVC up 1" and away from the wall (should be possible given the length)
- Carefully cut off 1/2" or 1" as required and deburr
- Line up the cut end over the coupling, adjust the straps to let it fully seat in the coupling
- Tighten the coupling to 60 in lbs.

Cheers, Wayne
 
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JD MO

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It might be a good idea to run a small cable down from the kitchen sink drain through that entire PVC assembly. But going downwards, not up in your case. He may have looked down the cleanout at the end of the horizontal PVC and determined it was clear too so that he wouldn't need to cable that line?

Will do that. Thank you for the suggestion. I suspect that may have been what he did.
 

JD MO

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The horizontal line from the y to the cast has only a small drop not a 1/4" per foot. Remove the clean out at the y and inspect with a lite could be clogged with old soap.

I'll inspect that. We seem to have issues with our bathroom drains getting sludgy in this house that I don't remember being as bad in other places. Will definitely check that out.
 

JD MO

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That issue would be easy to fix:


- Loosen the top of the rubber coupling, may need to loosen the bottom a little too.
- Pull the horizontal PVC up 1" and away from the wall (should be possible given the length)
- Carefully cut off 1/2" or 1" as required and deburr
- Line up the cut end over the coupling, adjust the straps to let it fully seat in the coupling
- Tighten the coupling to 60 in lbs.

Cheers, Wayne

Would not have thought of that. That sounds like a really good solution. Thank you.
 
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