Plumbing help

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by JasonMC, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. JasonMC

    JasonMC Stunt Coordinator

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    The main water line that supplies my house broke about a week ago. It was repaired today. During this time, I would buy gallons of water and melt snow to get water to put in my toilets to flush them.

    Now when I flush, the toilet on my bottom level has sewage come up it. This problem never existed prior to my water break.

    Can the fact that I used as little water as possible to flush for the last week cause a blockage?

    Do I need to call roto rooter or will subsequent flushes help clear the drain?

    Thanks,
    Jason
     
  2. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    Are you on a sewer or septic system? It could just be not enough water was used to clear the line during your previous flushing. Now that your flushes are normal, try just flushing water to see if the problem goes away, otherwise you may need to clean the line. You could call someone, but if it's just a clog you could do it yourself, although it isn't the most glamourous task.
     
  3. JasonMC

    JasonMC Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm on a sewer system. My other toilets on the top floor flush fine. Only the bottom toilet has sewage come up.

    I've tried to plunger the toilet but haven't had any luck. Is using the "air cannon" devices ok?

    Thanks
    Jason
     
  4. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    It's difficult to say whether using as little water as possible actually caused your problem. It could be just a coincidence that your sewer blockage simply came on the heels of your supply line problem. Or perhaps the sewer line was damaged in the process of fixing your supply line. If that's the case, then you probably have a sheared sewer line, and you'll have to dig it up to fix it. Do you remember whether the sewer started backing up immediately after your supply line was fixed?

    If it's just blockage, you should be able to push the blockage through with a flat snake. (Get a flat snake, not a round one with an auger on the end -- the flat snakes are good a pushing, whereas the other is good at pulling. Trust me, you want to push the blockage, not pull it out.) You should be able to get a 50-foot flat snake at a home center for about $30. It's a cheap thing to try first.

    If that doesn't work, then you'll need professional help. Plumbers have a camera they can put into the pipe to check for pipe damage. If none is found, then they can use the roto-rooter to clear the way. This service doesn't come cheap, however. Expect to pay over $200 for this service.

    If the pipe is damaged, and the damage is beyond your property line, then, depending on your city ordinances, your city should be responsible for fixing it. This is good, because then the financial burden is on them, not you. (But you still have to pay the plumber to run the camera down to find where the pipe damage is.) But this is also bad, because city government can be a lethargic beast when it comes to fixing residential services, especially when only one house is affected.

    Remember: There should be two service caps for cleaning out the sewer next to your house. The closest one to the house directs the snake away from the house, so try that one first. The other one directs the snake back into the house. If the blockage was caused by too little water for flushing, then there's a slight chance that the clog is inside the house -- but in all probability, it's outside the house, so try that cleanout tap first. Unless your sewer line is unusually sloped, then if you see standing water in the cleanout tap when you have it backing up into the house, then that means the clog is outside the house.

    Good hunting.
     
  5. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    Jason, I just saw your second post.

    DON'T USE THE AIR CANNON! That's only for local clogs that stop up the one fixture you're trying to fix. You have a whole house clog, so the air cannon will simply cause the other toilets in the house to spew their bowls of water all over the walls.

    It's not your downstairs toilet that's clogged up. It's the sewer line servicing your whole house that's clogged up. The upstairs toilets are flushing just fine because the waste from those toilets has some place to go -- namely out of the downstairs toilet. At some point, all the drain lines in your house connect, and the clog is beyond that connection. Thus, gravity causes all the waste water to exit out of the lowest point on the drain line, which is the downstairs toilet.
     
  6. Henry Carmona

    Henry Carmona Screenwriter

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    I hate to hear about your problem [​IMG]

    Im wiling to bet that the main line coming from your house was damaged in the water main repair.

    im sure dirt found its way into the damaged sewer line and is now blocking all waste water.

    Its just a matter of time before everything downstairs starts backing up.

    Dont call roto rooter, theyre expensive and charge over 100 dollars just to come check the problem.

    Hire a good local guy.

    My buddy and i fixed mine. Rented a small backho bobcat thingy, dug up the damaged pipe, replaced the section and walla [​IMG]
     
  7. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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    Shouldn't the city (or whichever municipality runs the water supply) have to fix it for him? If they damaged the sewer line during their repair of the water main - it's their fault.

    I'd call your water department immediately and tell them that you are holding them responsible for the repair.
     
  8. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    I can't answer that, but in my neck of the woods the lines to and from your house to the main under the straight are all considered "your problem"

    but if they broke it then who knows.
     
  9. Henry Carmona

    Henry Carmona Screenwriter

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    Yes it is your problem. The only thing you can do is talk to the guy in charge of the work and see if he'll own up to causing the problem.

    If not, your only recourse is to fix it yourself and sue if you feel its worth it.

    Since its a serious problem, your gonna have to end up paying for the fix yourself if you want it fixed now.
     
  10. CameronJ

    CameronJ Stunt Coordinator

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    The problem is - you don't know what happened yet. By fixing it yourself before talking to the municipality you may never get compensated (if they broke it).
     
  11. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    If you were using very little water to flush, the chances are that this is simply a blockage, which is going to get worse with every solid waste/paper use. The first thing to try is a snake in the lowest cleanout to see if you can get the blockage to move and clear itself. Flushing anything other than water at this point will only make matters worse.

    If you can't clear the line with a snake, then you could have a break, but from the initial post I suspect there simply wasn't enough water being flushed to move the solids all the way to the sewer, and each use after that simply compounds the problem until you have a blockage, which will then make any flushes exit through the lowest point in the system.
     
  12. JasonMC

    JasonMC Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for all of the responses. The sewer problem happened before the water main was replaced so it wasn't damaged during the repair.

    I had a plummer come out and he told me that a steel portion of the pipe going under my basement corroded and had a lot of tree roots in it. He wants to remove some of my basement floor (concrete), replace the pipe, and re-pour the concrete. $1300

    Does this seem appropriate $$$?
     
  13. BrianW

    BrianW Cinematographer

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    That's a pretty good price for a job that involved. However, if what he said is true, you can roto-root it out for (about) $250 and get from one to three more years of use out of it before the tree roots grow back and block it.

    On the other hand, if what he said isn't true, and the blockage is just human waste that got stuck there because of insufficient water during flushing, then roto-rooting it out will fix it for good.

    I'm not suggesting he's trying to cheat you, or anything. It's just that these things can be very difficult to diagnose. (Indeed, if he were trying to cheat you, he would have quoted a lot more than $1300. I wouldn't take on that job for less than $2500.)

    Given that there's been a history of insufficient water use during flushing, I would be inclined to just roto-root it out for now and see how long my luck holds out, but that's just me.

    Did the plumber use a camera to scope the blockage? If so, did he use an electronic locator to find the blockage location, or did he guess based on the length of the cable he sent down the pipe? If he used a camera, did you see the blockage, and were you able to confirm the presence of tree roots?
     
  14. Michael_K_Sr

    Michael_K_Sr Screenwriter

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    $1300 sounds reasonable for that amount of work. I had a plumber out about six weeks ago to rod out my sewer line after a blockage. Everything was fine for three weeks, when it started backing up again. I called and told the plumbing company that the line must not have been rodded back far enough. So they send a guy out who told me that they were only going to charge me $150 instead of the $200 they charged me three weeks earlier and they hoped I didn't have a problem with it. Hell yes I had a problem paying for a job that wasn't complete the first time! So they let it slide. If this happens again though I'm going to have the camera sent down to see what's going on.
     

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