Please advice: No floor drain in the basement,sewer replacement

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Evo_Anne

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Hello all, I am looking for your professional opinion and thank you very much for your time.

Background:
We just bought a 1956 brick ranch house. We have been experiencing lots of headache ever since, just try to deal with problems one by one.

1) we couldn't find the sewer line clean-out, finally found it in the a basement closet behind the drywall. The basement was finished in the 70's, I am assuming the sewer lateral probably has not been cleaned since 70's. It's made of cast iron. There's no back-up issue so far (knock the wood), but we were told the sewer line is in "poor condition" by the inspector and that section is under the foundation slab. The sewer section to the public street seems fine from pictures.
2) We looked everywhere in the basement and can't find a floor drain. There is a toilet near an exterior wall in the basement, a Crane Walsan wall-mount toilet, so still no floor drain. The basement has new LVT flooring put in 2021(on top of the old vinyl floor), fully drywalled and framed. There are furnace, water heater, laundry room in the basement.

Question
1) should we replace interior section of the sewer lateral now? I heard it could be very expense if we have a sewer backup.
2) do we need a floor drain in the basement? Since the toilet is wall mounted, what if I have water in the basement? but I guess I won't have sewer back up either since there's no floor drain. I am confused.
3) Can I possibly make the project less expensive by combining things or somehow in the process add a shower in that basement half-bath? Can I open the bathroom floor for drain work while the sewer pipe is replaced?
 

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jadnashua

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CI can last for a very long time...since the cleanout was behind a wall, I'm wondering how the home inspector came to the conclusion it was in bad shape? Maybe from results from your neighbors? You might want to ask around if they've had issues or not.

There are check valves for sewer lines that should help prevent a main line backup into the house, but they have their own issues and aren't installed everywhere because they do get clogged up on occasion, sometimes causing more grief than they're supposed to prevent. One thing that could be done, but it's an added constant expense and maintenance issue, is to run all of your waste into a sewage basin, then pump it up high, and let it fall back down to your sewer line. Then, if there were a main line backup, it wouldn't get into your home as it would leak out everywhere else that was lower...all of your neighbors! Rather than gravity, which doesn't sleep, if the pump fails, you are stuck until it's fixed, and that can be a major pain.

When building, they often make the line from the house to the main the shortest they can, and depending on the layout, that may be across the slab underneath as kitchens and bathrooms tend to be more on the back of the house than the front. But, there's nothing that says you can't run a replacement around the slab to the main sewer line, and if the existing exit from the home is near a wall, you may only have to tear into that small section. You'd want to cap off the line at the main that is now abandoned, unless you're going to connect to it in the front yard.
 

Evo_Anne

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CI can last for a very long time...since the cleanout was behind a wall, I'm wondering how the home inspector came to the conclusion it was in bad shape? Maybe from results from your neighbors? You might want to ask around if they've had issues or not.

There are check valves for sewer lines that should help prevent a main line backup into the house, but they have their own issues and aren't installed everywhere because they do get clogged up on occasion, sometimes causing more grief than they're supposed to prevent. One thing that could be done, but it's an added constant expense and maintenance issue, is to run all of your waste into a sewage basin, then pump it up high, and let it fall back down to your sewer line. Then, if there were a main line backup, it wouldn't get into your home as it would leak out everywhere else that was lower...all of your neighbors! Rather than gravity, which doesn't sleep, if the pump fails, you are stuck until it's fixed, and that can be a major pain.

When building, they often make the line from the house to the main the shortest they can, and depending on the layout, that may be across the slab underneath as kitchens and bathrooms tend to be more on the back of the house than the front. But, there's nothing that says you can't run a replacement around the slab to the main sewer line, and if the existing exit from the home is near a wall, you may only have to tear into that small section. You'd want to cap off the line at the main that is now abandoned, unless you're going to connect to it in the front yard.
The inspector used the roof vent. I asked on NextDoor app and someone said the CL could be in the closet. They are right. I guess it might be the style back then. Seal the CL in the closet next to the basement bathroom.

The basement toilet is at the back of the house, that's why I assume the pipe across the whole slab. I plan to have a sewer rescope to find more answers.
 

Reach4

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Find out if your neighborhood has actual sewer backups when there are big rains. I am not talking about a clog in your sewer causing backup into the basement with your upstairs drainage, but rather other people's sewage coming in. A flapper check valve is not at all sufficient to prevent that. Ask the sewer department, and ask the neighbors who have basements that are at a lower altitude than yours.

If a sewer backup is a potential problem, consider "overhead sewers".
 

Evo_Anne

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You could hire a company to camera snake and locate your sewer lines under slab for future reference, at the very least I would install a very heavy duty drain pan under the water heater and run the drain line outside the building and install emergency cut off valves on the washer.



Thank you. How do I run the drain line outside of the house? The water heater is in the basement, do I add a pump to pressure the water out of a window or through the wall?

After seeing your comment on the washer, I ran to check it. Another issue, my goodness, what kind of water supply is this? Do I need to turn the handles for hot/cold water? We have 't moved it yet, didn't even pay attention to the washer. Is it a straightforward job to add emergency water shut-off for this kind of setup?
 

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Evo_Anne

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Find out if your neighborhood has actual sewer backups when there are big rains. I am not talking about a clog in your sewer causing backup into the basement with your upstairs drainage, but rather other people's sewage coming in. A flapper check valve is not at all sufficient to prevent that. Ask the sewer department, and ask the neighbors who have basements that are at a lower altitude than yours.

If a sewer backup is a potential problem, consider "overhead sewers".
The backyard neighbors are almost 3 feet lower than us. The across street neighbors at the front are higher than us a little.
 

Reach4

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Talk to the backyard neighbors and ask about basement flooding history. Also ask the neighbors who have been there a long time, even if they are higher.
 

James Henry

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Like everything these days there are a multitude of products on the market for anything you can think of. I really don't think you have to go through a major construction project to protect yourself from a flood, the house has been there this long without a floor drain. Toilets are rarely the cause of a major leak, if you install automatic emergency shut off valves on the washer and water heater you would be cutting your chances of flooding the basement down to practically zero.




 

Evo_Anne

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Like everything these days there are a multitude of products on the market for anything you can think of. I really don't think you have to go through a major construction project to protect yourself from a flood, the house has been there this long without a floor drain. Toilets are rarely the cause of a major leak, if you install automatic emergency shut off valves on the washer and water heater you would be cutting your chances of flooding the basement down to practically zero.





Like everything these days there are a multitude of products on the market for anything you can think of. I really don't think you have to go through a major construction project to protect yourself from a flood, the house has been there this long without a floor drain. Toilets are rarely the cause of a major leak, if you install automatic emergency shut off valves on the washer and water heater you would be cutting your chances of flooding the basement down to practically zero.






I will for sure add those two emergency stop valves.
 

jadnashua

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A floor drain creates its own problems as it will need a trap primer so that doesn't dry out and let sewer gasses into the home.
 

Evo_Anne

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A floor drain creates its own problems as it will need a trap primer so that doesn't dry out and let sewer gasses into the home.


Maybe that's why I have a antique toilet in the basement. I thought wall mount is a new thing...this one is 60+ years old and functioning.
 

jadnashua

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Maybe, but probably not! The toilet's trap is in the toilet, so flushing it wouldn't add water to a floor drain's trap, assuming it has one. Sometimes, they'll run a line from the refill on a toilet to a floor drain, so when you flush the toilet, it adds some water to the floor drain's trap.
 

Jeff H Young

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if your busting out a floor to put a drain in how hard is it to add a primer? I have a shower thats been used only a half dozen times in 20 years once a month or when I smell stink I pour water in the drain pretty easy thats what they do in a whole lota places trap primers are often not present on basement drains. To me and Im guessing millions isnt that big a deal.
I dont see why its a project unless you know the piping needs replacement.
It might be that your sewer is not below floor level of basement how did you determine depth? the wall hung toilet might be because the sewer isnt deep enough for a floor mounted or floor drain something to concider
 

Evo_Anne

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if your busting out a floor to put a drain in how hard is it to add a primer? I have a shower thats been used only a half dozen times in 20 years once a month or when I smell stink I pour water in the drain pretty easy thats what they do in a whole lota places trap primers are often not present on basement drains. To me and Im guessing millions isnt that big a deal.
I dont see why its a project unless you know the piping needs replacement.
It might be that your sewer is not below floor level of basement how did you determine depth? the wall hung toilet might be because the sewer isnt deep enough for a floor mounted or floor drain something to concider

All good points. thank you!

I don't want a project at all. I just keep hitting walls using my limited experience with a newer house.

1) I will check with neighbors on their basement floor drain and flood issue. We did have a flood ten years ago. Almost all the houses that I know were due to sewer backup. It's a good thing that I don't see a floor drain. It could be hidden under the vinyl floor. Is this a good defense mechanism of waterproofing? I will add emergency shut off to the washer and water heater in the basement.

2) Sewer lateral - I will hire another re-scope and then go from there.
 

Jeff H Young

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did you see the video scope?
I understand the confusion
if the cleanout was an interior framed wall then sewer main is below floor if its on an exterior wall it could be that sewer4 not deep enough.
why not contact the guy that ran camera and pick his brain as to condition of piping and if he suspects a problem and if so why? rather than pay money to camera a well working system. Ive never had a camera down my drain pipes
 

Evo_Anne

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did you see the video scope?
I understand the confusion
if the cleanout was an interior framed wall then sewer main is below floor if its on an exterior wall it could be that sewer4 not deep enough.
why not contact the guy that ran camera and pick his brain as to condition of piping and if he suspects a problem and if so why? rather than pay money to camera a well working system. Ive never had a camera down my drain pipes


The inspector is where the problem origins. He told me that there's no video because the mp4 file corrupted. The inspector also didn't turn on the furnace and we found out the pvc tube next the furnace was shooting out water jet as soon as the furnace is on. He also didn't test the washer. Today I found out the washer is running, the utility sink next to it is backed up. When the washer was draining, the sink draining too.
 

Evo_Anne

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Hello all,

I talked to the next door neighbor today. His house is the same floor plan, same age. We should have a floor drain, but it's covered under the vinyl flooring 4 feet in front of the utility sink. It's at least 10 feet away from the water heater.
 

jadnashua

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Well, if your floor drain is covered over, it won't likely smell. Whether there'd be enough pressure if the sewer backed up to break through, can't say.

Sewer gasses can contain methane (explosive) and H2S, high eye and skin irritation, so it isn't always safe to wait until you notice it...stop it before it can start if you've got any traps that aren't regularly used. Some people are more affected than others.
 

Jeff H Young

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Well, if your floor drain is covered over, it won't likely smell. Whether there'd be enough pressure if the sewer backed up to break through, can't say.

Sewer gasses can contain methane (explosive) and H2S, high eye and skin irritation, so it isn't always safe to wait until you notice it...stop it before it can start if you've got any traps that aren't regularly used. Some people are more affected than others.
possible it wasnt properly capped off
 
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