Water backing up into tub and other bathroom

Discussion in 'Drain Cleaning' started by suceress, Feb 17, 2009.

  1. suceress

    suceress Member

    Mar 12, 2008

    I'll start out by saying that I have a well & pump system and a septic tank.

    After a severe leak over a year ago, two of my bathrooms are in the process of being remodelled/repaired. The half-bath is being used as storage space as it is too small to be used by most of the people in my household. We installed a Toto Drake w/ SanaGloss in the main bathroom over a year ago and were waiting for the floor to be repaired in the 2nd bathroom before installing another. (Btw, unfiltered/unsoftened water can stain the SanaGloss terribly-- getting the water filter and softener setup is a project on our long list of things to do).

    A few weeks ago the sinks in the two adjacent bathrooms started gurgling whenever the toilet was flushed. I figured the septic tank needed to be cleared. Unfortunately nobody in my family listened to me and it became so full that sewage started backing up into the uncovered pipe in the bathroom that is under repair (there is no toilet in there, the pipe is open and I had been putting things over the opening to prevent odor from coming up). I finally called someone to suck the sewage out of the tank and he came the next day. Unfortunately, draining did not clear the problem and we had him come out a couple days later to use a really long snake to clear the clog (our own snake wasn't working). It was $100 just for the snaking and the guy indicated that he didn't really want to come back out again.

    Yesterday the pipes started gurgling again and sewage came up the pipe in the bathroom again. Now the toilet will not flush. I tried clearing it with Liquid Plumber (the kind that is septic tank and plastic pipe safe-- for the record, I was against pouring stuff directly into the open sewer pipe-- I wanted to use the sink and tub that were being used frequently) and it seemed to work in the one pipe. I'm going to try it again in the sink and tub to see if that helps, but my father thinks that the pipe not having a toilet on it is what is causing the water to flow improperly. I've temporarily sealed it with Press'N Seal and put a paving stone on top to hold it down. Could the lack of a toilet there be the problem? I still think it's a clog.

    Getting a plumber to come out where I live is not easy. The plumber who serviced this house for over 50 years is now in a nursing home and I'm not sure if there are any plumbers still in my town.

    Any advice on how to fix this? (also, any advice on how to clean the mess up? My father tried to snake through the open pipe where the toilet used to be and it ended up spraying crap all over my walls-- and I'm apparently the only one in this house capable of cleaning anything).
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    A few things come to mind: you could still have a clog, or you have a collapsed pipe somewhere; your septic field is shot (if you flush solids out into the field by not pumping it often enough, you can ruin the field); not having a toilet on the flange won't cause the other pipes to clog.

    I'm sure there are other possibilities...
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  4. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Sep 1, 2004
    Yakima WA
    Chemical cleaner do not work on sewer line in spite of their claims. Small, DIY snakes usually are not too effective either, they frequently just push the clog in deeper and tighter. Sewer line clogs require a auger with a large head and with sufficient length to reach all the way through to the street or septic tank. These are not for amateur use. They can twist and break, they can take a finger or hand off, and pretty much ruin your day. Try to avoid calling any company with "Roto" in their name, but find a real plumber with a real auger to open the line.
  5. suceress

    suceress Member

    Mar 12, 2008

    We had the septic tank drained a year ago as well, but its not the same guy who used to do it (the old guy had a larger hose for suction and sucked the clumpy stuff out). The new guy has a smaller hose (not much larger than a vacuum hose) and leaves the clumps and debris behind-- he didn't even drain all of the water (but he came out on very short notice and is one of the few people willing to come out to our house). We've made arrangements with him to drain the septic tank every 6 months.

    I called a plumber this morning and am still waiting for him to get back to me to say whether or not he will actually come out. It's not looking good though.
  6. Hazel Graczyk

    Hazel Graczyk New Member

    Feb 17, 2009
    When you've been pumped but still have a problem

    I've had the problem in the past where the septic gets pumped, but the backup created clogs in the line usually where there are offsets or right at the tank access... Yes a rotating auger is the way to go to push out any waste that stayed in the line.. Those roto people do have the spinning cables, just ask for an estimate up front. It's not $100 any more.
  7. suceress

    suceress Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Thanks. The only local plumber finally showed up. He doesn't have an auger though. So he used the snake and told me that if it clogged again to give him a call. He's the son of our former plumber.

    He doesn't seem to like the guy who drained our septic tank,and vice versa. While the other plumber was here, the septic guy called and told us that if we want our field line cleared to give him a call.

    The most recent plumber made sure that stuff flushed and wasn't getting caught. He put a wire hanger on the end of his snake to help break up the clog. I was rather shocked that he didn't wear gloves while handling the snake (even after sticking it into the sewage).

    I'm hoping the clog is cleared for good. The pipes on my house are rather twisty and strange.
  8. littlebrook

    littlebrook New Member

    Aug 14, 2008
    Not a plumber
    Rochester, NY
    The point of having your septic tank pumped is to remove all of the "clumps and debris". If the new guy is not doing that, then I don't think he is really pumping out your tank. If you don't remove the solid waste, it could build up over time and cause your tank to back-up and for solids to go into your leach field. Removing just the liquid really doesn't do much for you. Might be time to find a new septic guy.
  9. mamoose

    mamoose New Member

    Mar 11, 2009
    an similar problem

    My problem is slightly different. I had a new toilet installed by a plumber when I remodelled the bathroom. Over the past several months I've had intermittent problems with flushing - it doesn't drain. Initially the plumber suggested it might be frozen and to try using a melting agent to alleviate the problem followed by lots of hot water. That worked. Things worked well for a month.
    Now I'm finding that I have full flush for a couple of days and then it drains extremely slowly. I'm wondering if this is caused by the current melting conditions and the possibility that a lot of the melt run off has seeped into the tank and septic bed. The soil in my area consists of inordinate amounts of clay and is easily saturated. Is my septic system an opportunity for melting snow and excessive rain to cause the water to seep into it? Also, the weather has fluctuated from 14 celsius to -18 celcius over the past few days.
    I've also used root clean just in case the many trees on my lakefront home are sending their little offshoots into the joint where the sewer pipe empties into the septic tank.
    The septic system only receives fluids from one toilet, bathroom and kitchen sink - no washing machine water empties into it and there is only myself using the system. The system was also pumped out a couple of years ago with very little sediment in the bottom but a high water level (I use a licensed honeywagon to empty the system). I was told that despite the system not having been cleaned out for several years, it didn't really need to be done at that time and that the only thing I should do is remove the fine roots every couple of years or so manually or use a root cleaner chemical twice a year.
    Do I need to empty the tank or will it just fill up again if that is the problem.
    My plumber tells me that if my septic bed was shot, I'd know it in no uncertain terms.
  10. suceress

    suceress Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Update: It was the Septic Tank and field line system

    I realize that I never updated this thread.
    I hope mamoose's issues were resolved.

    The updates:
    My field lines were bad and my septic tank was not sufficient for the number of rooms in the house. It was designed for a one bedroom house and the house has 3 bedrooms. The field lines were not only full of crud, but they were too long and not at the right angle.
    I had the old septic tank replaced with a two-chamber concrete septic tank with double the capacity. It is designed in such a way that it keeps the scum that floats at the top from going in to the second chamber. The old field lines were replaced with Infiltrator Systems segments.

    Littlebrook was right about the guy who drains septic tanks needing to be replaced. He started badmouthing the health inspector, badmouthing the guy who designed the septic tank, and was just generally unpleasant. He charged $240. I later found out that he has multiple violations for not draining tanks all the way and has been fined- hence his anger toward the health inspector. The guy who installed the septic tank and field lines is the son-in-law of the guy who holds the patent on the septic tank that was installed. The sewage sucking guy started badmouthing the father-in-law to the installer's face. Turns out, the father-in-law used to hire him to suck the sewage out for jobs but the guy didn't drain them all the way and then charged more money to come out and finish draining them so the guy stopped working with him.

    The good news is that the new tank only has to be drained once every 7 or 8 years so that gives me more time to replace the septic guy.

    Something with the pipes under the house is not at the proper angle so we keep getting clogs. The plumber is refusing to schedule a time to come fix it because he doesn't like getting under houses but he can keep charging me to snake the cleanout.

    I'm not even going to get in to the issues with the plumber and his last visit. I need to find a new plumber who won't overcharge and be a jerk. Next time I'm snaking it out myself.

    I miss the old plumber but he passed just a few months after I posted this thread.

    Also, I have since put a rubber cap in the toilet flange to keep any gases from coming up and the floor is almost finished (things were very hectic since my father passed away in March 2009 so a lot of projects were halted).

    I have noticed that the clogs seem to occur during colder months so I wonder if something is freezing in the drain pipes.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2014
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