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Old 05-07-2013, 03:20 AM   #1
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exterior sewer cleanout clogged - basement flooding!


Hello everyone, I woke up today to a flooded basement.

About a year ago, my kid tossed a garden tool down the exterior cleanout pipe in my front yard (it had no cap on it at the time). I sure wish I'd fished it out then.

I called a plumber today and he told me that the trowel that was tossed there a year ago now has other debris around it and has created a big clog that's causing a backup in my house - hence the flooded basement.

This plumber told me I'd probably have to excavate the line and replace it. Although that sounds like the most straightforward solution, I'd rather not have to dig up my front lawn and garden if it could possibly be cleared out any other way.
I'm also confused because the water doesn't look or smell like sewage? When I looked down the cleanout pipe, it definitely had water in it that was about 4' away from ground level.

Any suggestions on a fix that doesn't involve excavation or should I just start digging?

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Old 05-07-2013, 05:55 AM   #2
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exterior sewer cleanout clogged - basement flooding!


Grab a shovel and start diging your sewage line it is not that bad just did up the section that needs to me replaced. It should only be a 4 inch line? and the tool should only be right at the clean out. so you don't need to dig the whole lawn up. Plus you should never have a sewer line under your garden for one big reason. it cracks and leaks your going to have health problems with the stuff your growing.

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Old 05-07-2013, 06:36 AM   #3
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exterior sewer cleanout clogged - basement flooding!


Yikes, I was hoping that there'd be less digging involved.

Yes, it is a 4" line, but as I understand it goes down at least 8 feet. I have very heavy, rocky, clay soil and quite a few plant, shrub, and tree roots along the way! I'd definitely want to rent some sort of machine for the job.

I do hope the tool is at the clean out, but it's been there a year, so who knows. Furthermore, the clean out pipe in the lawn had no cap when I moved into the house supposedly for years, so there's probably more stuff in there.

Also I got a PM from a member, but I cannot answer it as I don't have enough posts. By the way, it hasn't rained here in at least a week so it seems a bit odd the basement flooded at all.

Additionally (I don't know if it's relevant or not) but I had my roof completely redone last year and had new gutters put on. The downspout from the gutters on at least one side of the house seems to drain into a pipe (that wasn't replaced) that's located right next to the foundation. Is there any way to tell if this could be part of my problem? Could that be why the water flooding the basement doesn't stink and looks more or less clean? Please excuse my ignorance if that doesn't have anything to do with it.
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Old 05-07-2013, 07:30 AM   #4
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exterior sewer cleanout clogged - basement flooding!


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Originally Posted by HammerinScrews View Post
Yikes, Additionally (I don't know if it's relevant or not) but I had my roof completely redone last year and had new gutters put on. The downspout from the gutters on at least one side of the house seems to drain into a pipe (that wasn't replaced) that's located right next to the foundation. Is there any way to tell if this could be part of my problem? Could that be why the water flooding the basement doesn't stink and looks more or less clean? Please excuse my ignorance if that doesn't have anything to do with it.
Yes the reasons you describe are possible.

Some plumbers who specialize in drains have electronic tracers to help find out where underground pipes are routed.

You could shop around to see if you can find a plumber who will try to use a snake to retrieve the tool that got dropped in.

Was it raining at about the time the basement flooded?
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Last edited by AllanJ; 05-07-2013 at 07:34 AM.
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Old 05-07-2013, 09:58 AM   #5
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Depending n the size of the trowel and the distance, a plumber might be able to push it to the main... seen it done several times.
How do you know it's at the clean out and not 10' further down the line?.
If you can get the line to drain down a plumber can put a camera down the clean out- locate the tool- possibly retrieve it, push it, or give you a location and depth to dig.
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:12 PM   #6
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Depending n the size of the trowel and the distance, a plumber might be able to push it to the main... seen it done several times.
How do you know it's at the clean out and not 10' further down the line?.
If you can get the line to drain down a plumber can put a camera down the clean out- locate the tool- possibly retrieve it, push it, or give you a location and depth to dig.
Yes it could be your sewer back-up, or it could be a foundation leak.

As it appears clean water, turn on all your water and start flushing toilets, put a light down your cleanout and see if it draining.

I'm assuming you have a floor drain in your basement. Look around and see if you have debris near it indicating a back-up.

If a back-up, and the trowel was of sufficient size to not make the cleanout turn, try fishing it with a strong bar magnet. Otherwise try pushing it all the way down your line with a snake and pig attachment.

If it's indicated to be a foundation leak, find out what the gutter men attached the gutters to... maybe they were flooding a french drain and should just of been putting an extension on the gutter drain

Just some ideas

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Old 05-07-2013, 10:47 PM   #7
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exterior sewer cleanout clogged - basement flooding!


Man, and I thought I was a procrastinator.

Did you try a super magnet? Or how about one of those auger type thing they use for a sand spike on the beach, attached to a long pole. Or how about a beast of a shop vac? You may be able to suck that trowel out of there. Worth a try. We used to suck river wash stones up to about 2 inches out of roof drain leaders with a big shop vac.
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Old 05-07-2013, 10:50 PM   #8
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exterior sewer cleanout clogged - basement flooding!


seems I would at least try to retrive the tool and open the line 1st..they make many tools for that purpose .. ..retriving objects from sewer line..ben sr
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:01 AM   #9
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Sounds like a camera look to locate the trowel and retrieve it would be a lot cheaper than excavating and cutting the line and repairing would be the first try.
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Old 05-08-2013, 08:40 AM   #10
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exterior sewer cleanout clogged - basement flooding!


Why in the world would somebody leave a cleanout uncapped for so long? Trowel aside, there's no telling what else might be in the line. If I did that, there'd be a nest of some sort of critters in short order.
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:51 AM   #11
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Why in the world would somebody leave a cleanout uncapped for so long? Trowel aside, there's no telling what else might be in the line. If I did that, there'd be a nest of some sort of critters in short order.
Its probably just one of those things that got shoved to the back burner. I think the key, when you own a house is knowing what things can wait, and what things cant. This one would be a front, large burner for me, but who knows what the OP knows? I guess he knows now, wet shoes and all. Floating Feces in the basement is just the beginning. I hope the basement is unfinished.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:34 PM   #12
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exterior sewer cleanout clogged - basement flooding!


how quick does the clean out flow water when coming from the house...wondering how close the tool is from the clean out? industial rotor clean out machine might move the tool down into the street main...

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