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roasted 12-29-2012 08:27 PM

Check valve for tub drain?
Long story short - our sump pump (which doubles as a lift for the downstairs sink and washer) is 1/3 HP. When it is pushing water up and out the main drain line, it's putting out enough pressure that some of the water gets sidetracked and goes up the tub drain pipe, therefore putting some of the drainage water from downstairs into the tub, which is of course meant to go out the main pipe exiting the house.

I began to wonder, what if I put a check valve in? I picked one up tonight but now that I'm home I'm a little unsure if it'll work. The spring within the check valve seems quite light, but when I blow into the valve, it feels as though it takes a bit more pressure than I anticipated to successfully open the valve and flow through.

Attached is a picture of the area in question. There's copper, galvanized, and PVC all in one (not my doing... I'm just the 2nd owner of the home trying to make things work). The copper pipe which comes down on a 45 and into the galvanized fixture is the tub drain. The curved PVC which swoops in is from the sump pump.

I guess what I'm questioning is, do you think the water coming from the tub drain (copper pipe) would have enough pressure to open a check valve and successfully flow through? If so, this would be an awesomely simple way to ensure the sump pump isn't forcing water up into the tub when it runs. If not, I'm SOL and back to the drawing board.

Thanks everyone!

buddy builder 12-29-2012 08:42 PM

don't really know what to tell you there. any possible way to bypass this conglomeration and cut through your wood wall and take the sump pump line on down below these fittings so it will be below the tub drain.? if you can do this the further the better. also, don't know if a smaller h/p motor would still pump uphill what you need it to do but would probably slow the volume down.

roasted 12-29-2012 09:20 PM


Originally Posted by buddy builder (Post 1082181)
don't really know what to tell you there. any possible way to bypass this conglomeration and cut through your wood wall and take the sump pump line on down below these fittings so it will be below the tub drain.? if you can do this the further the better. also, don't know if a smaller h/p motor would still pump uphill what you need it to do but would probably slow the volume down.

I thought about doing that, but there's some galvanized further up the line that I'm a little hesitant to touch.

What you see here is directly on the other side of that wood wall. I'd so much rather not touch this area... even though part of me thinks it would be optimal for the long run. I could rip out this galvanized and put a shorter galvanized piece in. Ultimately I would end up with piping that is shaped like a capital F, except it'd be slanted on a 45 degree angle. The bottom part of the F would be the sump pump, and the upper part would be the main exit for the bath tub and the kitchen sink (which is further up the line). Part of the reason I'm hesitant to touch this is I would basically have to redo that whole section of junctions. That would be a monumental headache... so if I can avoid that yet dig up a working solution I'd be all about it.

I guess the bottom line is, I'm not sure if the check valve being on a non-pressurized line would even work. I mean, how would the check valve benefit me if the shower is running? How is shower water trickling down going to be enough to open the valve?


buddy builder 12-29-2012 10:06 PM

i really never heard of a sewer check valve. you may have one but i presume this valve is for a water line with pressure applied to it. if you have to cut the galvanized you can use a no hub band to join the galvanized to pvc and not worry about putting galvanized pipe and fittings back. from the no hub band go back all pvc. not too hard. this is the rubber type with clamps on each end. from there back pvc is easy to work with. about all i can see is to get the pump drain as far from the other fittings as possible. on the copper to pvc you could use what is called a trap adapter to connect them. it is the same fitting under sinks that connects to the metal tailpiece from the sink. it probaly looks harder than it would actually be. if you did this clean out the drain as much as possible while you have it opened up. some of your problem may stem from a restriction built up in the lines. you might even cut the line open and clean it out, put it back together and see if that works before doing the above. you may even put a clean out plug at the back of the piping for the current problem and for future use.

buddy builder 12-29-2012 10:11 PM

i missed your picture before the other post. i would cut that sucker about 3 or 4 inches above the cast iron. if you see build up then that more than likely is your problem. clean out what is left good and go back with pvc all the way. put a clean out plug on the back end and that should fix your problem.

roasted 12-30-2012 08:56 AM

I'm a little unsure about what to do once I begin hitting the junctions, mostly because I have no idea how they managed to install a pair of Y's right next to each other since twisting the pipes on to install wouldn't be possible unless I'm of course redoing everything, up the walls, etc. I guess best bet is to cut above the cast iron as well as just before the first galvanized Y and put rubber connectors with hose clamps on both?

Seems easy enough, but that pipe is so close to the wall I have no idea how I'll cut it, besides maybe taking a grinder with a cutting wheel to it.

Thanks for the insight!

Edit - I suppose no amount of drano will help with the build up? :-P

wkearney99 12-30-2012 09:08 AM

No doubt someone assembled that before putting it into place. Seems like there ought to be a wye for the tub drain instead of that tee. But unless there's a lot of blockage it should not be backing up into the tub. First step might be to have the lines scoped out to see just how bad things are in there. Might be really bad farther along down the line. So any fix you did at this point wouldn't help enough. If that's the case and you have to replace sections farther along then you'd do well to seriously consider fixing the mess here at the same time. Otherwise the same problem just comes back later.

joecaption 12-30-2012 09:58 AM

Spring checks are not used in drain lines, there's no clean out installed, (should be where the elbow on the right is) Tee needs to go.
Steel pipe at some point will always leak and close up on the inside.
Need to see what's on the other side of that wall where the pump is.
The drains should be just draining into a pit with no connection to the out going line on the pump so there's no way it can back up when the pump comes on.
Have you concidered reusing this water for eragation?

roasted 12-30-2012 12:11 PM

I think I'm going to go the route of cutting the galvanized pipe and putting a rubber coupler with hose clamps... Then just convert it to PVC from there on back. I'm also going to leave the two galvanized Y's in place and visually inspect them and make sure that they're still of usable quality. I certainly hope so because I would hate to have to rip out those two junctions....

EDIT - joe, there are two pictures above which contain what's behind the wall. If you take a look at the one picture with the main cast iron pipe with the galvanized coming off from it at a 45, you see more galvanized go to the right and disappear as it's the end of the picture. About 6 inches past the edge of the picture is the wall... the wall being what you see on the original picture in post 1.

wkearney99 12-30-2012 06:08 PM

You don't have two galvanized wyes, you have a wye and an incorrect tee. And from what you've posted it sounds like the problem is a possible lack of flow through the galvanized section, likely further along. The tee only adds to the problem. But since it's a straight shot through the other room then, honestly, why not just fix it right? Just pull out all the galvanized and replace it with PVC. The pipe and fittings are cheap. Then you can also replace the incorrect tee with a proper sanitary tee.

That would just leave the galvanized segment coming up out of the first wye. It's really a case of "while you're at it" here. Yes, it'd probably be simpler and cheaper to just cut that galvanized and put a coupler on it into the new PVC. But depending on the length and access then replacing all of it might be a lot better in the long run, for not necessarily a lot more money in parts.

I'm guessing if you cut that galvanized you're going to see a lot of blockage in it. That's what happens to that kind of pipe and that's among the many reasons it's not used much (if at all) these days. It rusts from the inside and this leads to clogging, which only escalates the rust.

roasted 12-30-2012 06:33 PM

I think I might do that anyway now. I'm at a stopping point tonight because it's Sunday night and I need a fitting I forgot to grab earlier. I'm beyond enraged with this galvanized. It just flat out sucks. The inside of the galvanized is pretty corroded and has some built up, most of which I can scrape off. The only thing I won't be changing is the galvanized piping that goes up the wall to the 3rd floor bathroom, since I don't exactly want to be ripping out 2nd floor walls to switch that pipe out. I suppose it's acceptable for all of the galvanized pipes to just use the rubber coupler when adapting over to PVC, eh? I think I'll pick up some more of the sweep wye's as well that have the sharper turn in them... they just seem to make more sense to me.

What a project. Yay for home ownership! But dang, this sure beats trusting someone else to do it. :thumbup:

roasted 12-30-2012 07:20 PM

Alright fellas. I tried to write down my little plan here so I could wrap my brain around what pieces I would need. I decided to share it here in case there's something I'm missing or going about wrong.

I originally drew this out with one line on top of another just so you guys could see it, since after all we're talking a 2d drawing here, however now that I look at it, I wonder if it makes sense to actually do it like this? I guess the only real benefit would be that the upper line, containing the 2nd floor bathroom drain + 1st floor tub drain + 1st floor kitchen sink drain would actually be higher up, so if there would ever be any sort of clog in the future, it would be substantially harder for the water to back up into the tub again. But hey, like you guys say, if it's done right it's not a worry.

Anyway, the entire thing would be done in PVC, with the exception of what's labeled. I'm going to leave behind the 6 inches of galvanized that you folks see at the main exit. Then gal, rubber coupler, and all PVC. I'm Y'ing it off because that way it gives the sump pump it's own dedicated line, and by the time it joins up it's already past all of the Y's for the bathrooms/kitchen drains. Everything will be 2" except further up both lines where they drop to 1.5", so I'll adapt them accordingly.

The first Y in the upper line is to the 2nd floor bathroom. The 2nd Y on the right is for the 1st floor tub.

By doing this, it basically converts everything over to PVC with the exception of a few inches at the main waste exit as well as the existing galvanized line from the 2nd floor bathroom.

Looks like I'll be somewhat busy tomorrow. Any opinions or comments on the drawing? Anything that I'm going about incorrectly? I appreciate all of your help so far. It's substantially reassuring when undertaking a project like this while the wife is asking why don't we hire a plumber. :laughing:

wkearney99 12-30-2012 07:45 PM

Hiring a plumber may well be worth considering. They're better equipped to get the job done right. Whereas you have to run back/forth to the store hoping to find/remember the right parts. Never underestimate the power of a Home Depot being out of stock on the one particular part you really need...

There may be other issues to consider, like how everything is vented. Or whether the existing setup is totally brain-dead and just shouldn't have been done that way. As in, why bother upgrading something that's fundamentally wrong? The 2nd line for the sump and how it would fit into the main waste stack makes me really think consulting with a local plumber would be a good idea.

roasted 12-30-2012 08:44 PM

Yeah... yeah I'm not going to go the plumber route. It's just not in the cards right now. Keep in mind... what you saw earlier worked for a number of years... all I'm doing is rearranging what's where, why, how, etc. It's nothing monumentally different from before, while at the same time it kind of is. I don't see how venting will matter in this case since I'm basically removing old plumbing and introducing new plumbing in what I feel is a more logically laid out setup. Running to/from the store doesn't matter since they're one mile away. It's this whole Sunday night thing that killed me today. That said, I don't anticipate this job to last until next Sunday. ;)

Is there anything that looks awfully wrong about what I drew up? Or does it seem okay on paper?

roasted 12-31-2012 10:05 PM

I am beyond happy that I took the advice to slice the galvanized pipe a few inches above the cast iron. That sucker was about 75% restricted with gunk. Not like rusty chewed galvanized... just gunk. I dug out what I could with a screwdriver and in those 5 inches of pipe I filled a glass Tostito's salsa jar. Disgusting.

It took me a decent chunk of time today, but I'm super glad I did it myself. I did the plumbing in a way I feel is very logical, clean, and routed properly. I'm no plumber, but I tried the best I could do organize things appropriately. It's a little difficult because in this particular area you have a lot of traffic. You have the tub and sink from the main floor but you also have the shower and sink from the 2nd floor. Couple that with the sump pump, kitchen sink, etc., and suddenly you have wye city.

There's the finished product. The main pipe is 2 inches with the 3 branches being 1.5 inch. I had aimed to have 2 branches, with everything in one branch, and the sump pump in another. Problem is I had a very very short area to fit two wye's, and it just didn't work... so I just made another channel and wye'd off that. The only thing I need to do is to put in some more decent supports. When I took this picture I only had one or two in, but now I have some makeshift wire ties in place... however I'll get some better supported hooks tomorrow.

On the right you can barely see a wye going up just on the other side of the funky S turn... that goes to the upstairs shower, which is connected to existing galvanized via a 2" rubber coupler. The combination sweep T at the top of the picture goes to the upstairs bathroom sink, which is just adapted over to the existing galvanized with a threaded PVC joint. With the middle pipe you have another combination sweep T which goes to the main floor bath tub off to the left. Originally I was going to do a 90 here since I had no reason for more connections but I ended up putting another combination sweep T so I could put a plug on the end there. That way if I ever have to run a snake for future clogs I can access it there. Then the long pipe on the left goes straight to the sump pump with nothing else attached.

I have to say, those combination sweep T's... they're absolutely awesome. If you folks take a good look at the combination sweep T at the top of the picture that threads into the galvanized... I tried to put a wye there originally. The problem is, a wye is still angled. Due to the angle, I couldn't get it fitted properly because of how short of a distance I was working with. There was just no way to make it happen. My only option was going to be a T, which you guys said wasn't the smartest thing the original plumber could have done, however now that I was in his shoes having to rebuild this, I knew exactly why he did that. The pipe is dead set against the wooden joist for the floor upstairs, so there's no room to come down on an angle to connect up to a wye. When I hit this point I remembered I had utilized a combination sweep T for another project, but I forgot where I found them at. I went to several hardware stores (big box and local mom/pop) and finally found it at Lowe's, which was my last stop (go figure). They're a very directional based T while still providing a 90 degree joint. I had to take a saw and notch out a thumb-sized dent into the wooden joist to make a bit more room for it, but it worked out so perfectly when it was all said and done. I bought the last two on the shelf... one to use, and one for a spare, but I ended up using both in this job, so :thumbsup:

Anyway... it's a little busy, but it's super clean, no weeping, no leaks of any sort, it's on a slight slope as per recommendation, and most importantly the sump pump runs perfectly. I still can't believe what I found in that galvanized pipe at the exit, but dang I'm glad I took a sawzall to that pipe and took a quick look... Overall, this is another completed DIY job.

Thanks everybody who offered their time to help. It's appreciated like no other! The wife gave me a :thumbsup: to my comment when I showed her the new plumbing work: "Who needs a plumber when you have a husband?"

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