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Old 01-24-2010, 11:46 PM   #1
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


Here's how it all started:

Can a roof vent identify where my main sewer line exits the house?

I finally got the second toilet off the flange and got about 65-70 feet of the Roto-rooter's cable in to the line and now it is stuck. I can't get it to back out. Running it in reverse or forward, all that happens is after a few seconds the cable inside the basket gets all twisted up and I end up with a bird's nest inside the basket. Those take about half an hour to untwist and get it back into operating condition.

Any ideas? I bet I found the blockage! I spoke with a city councilman today and he told me he had the same problem and it turned out to be the junction between his home's main line and the city's sewer line. Apparently the city used a rubber sleeve to join the house main lines to the city's sewer line in the 1970's and now those rubber sleeves are deteriorating and allowing tree roots into the junction. I'd bet that the cable is all twisted around some large tree root at the junction and it isn't going to budge......until the city comes out and digs the junction out with a backhoe .

Does anyone have any idea how I might be able to get this thing loose? I rented it and if I don't have it back to the rental place by 9 tomorrow morning I will probably be charged for an additional day, something that I don't really want to happen.

Any suggestions (other than bend over and grab my ankles ) will be sincerely appreciated!!!

Dugly : :

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Old 01-25-2010, 12:52 AM   #2
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


I have friends that do this for a living. This is precision work. Believe it or not it is an art. You need a lot of training and patience to clear a drain properly. I've heard of people breaking arms, sever lacerations, and worse just with a little miscalculation or loss of 110% attention.

To get the clog, the machine has to hit it full force, but first you have to 'feel' the clog, back out then hit it. I don't do it full time, I won't DIY a drain with a cable machine like this. I also value my life too much.

This isn't a job for DIY's even if the apron stores do rent the machines.

I have most of the tools, and I've seen it done countless times, and helped my buddies on some jobs. I just have too much respect for the machine and all of that power. I pay my buddy to clean my drain.

Get a prefessional drain cleaner out. He *might* be able to clear the cable. Either that, or get the city out to dig. One way or another, the machine is going to be late.

Mick

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Old 01-25-2010, 08:25 AM   #3
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


Yeah, Mick, I figure you are right. I'm going to propose to the rental company that I disconnect the cable from the basket and pull the remaining 10 feet out of the basket, then leave it stuck down the drain while I wait return the RR motor/frame and wait for the city to come out and dig out the junction. I stepped it off last night and it is approximately 65 feet from the bathroom window to the fence at the back of my yard.....the rental company says the cable is 75 feet long and I estimate 6 to 8 feet left on the basket. Sounds like it made it to the city's sewer line and is now very securely stuck.

Oh, well, time to bend over...........

Dugly
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Old 01-25-2010, 10:18 AM   #4
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


Why was the cable bunching up in the basket? It should lock solidly coming out of the basket so you get the full force of the machine on the cable. I don't know how you could "feel" the blockage if the cable was not locked to the bail (basket). I have not used one for many years but the really old ones had a simple two or three bolt system and the ones I used as a kid had a kind of chuck with three jaws that came through the center.

Rege
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:06 AM   #5
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by RegeSullivan View Post
I don't know how you could "feel" the blockage if the cable was not locked to the bail (basket). I have not used one for many years but the really old ones had a simple two or three bolt system and the ones I used as a kid had a kind of chuck with three jaws that came through the center.
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I didn't have the machine running as I was feeding the cable into the drain line. Once I felt the cable stop going in easily, I would tighten the clamp where the cable exited the basket (secured by a single "thumb screw") and step on the foot switch. The machine would then rotate the cable and the fixture on the end and, or so I was told, the machine would do the work. Seems it did the work only too well, the city's utility supervisor made a visit to my house today and we measured from the location where the cable feeds into the drain line to the location where the city's sewer line runs and it measured almost exactly the amount of cable that appears to be off the basket. The fixture on the end of the cable resembled a large "corkscrew", I figure it hit a bunch of roots as it made its way into the city sewer line (which the supervisor says is old tile line, not modern sewer line). The corkscrew fixture would have just screwed its way on into the jumble of roots and there it still sits, waiting for someone to come along and dig it up and free it .

The manager at the rental place was quite understanding and said he would not charge me for the extra days it takes to get it loose. The supervisor is due again at my house tomorrow at 8 AM and we hope to use some sort of magnetic sensor to mark the location and direction of my main drain line (he says all we need to do is ground the cable and his sensor will be able to trace it--but, then, he also says that there should be a clean-out somewhere, too). Soon as the various utilities come and mark their locations, the backhoe will arrive and then it'll just be a matter of time, hopefully not much time!

Dugly
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Old 01-26-2010, 12:56 PM   #6
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


Good luck!
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:39 PM   #7
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


Sorry to hear your having those troubles. Let us know how it all works out.


Rege
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:43 PM   #8
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


Wonder of Wonders: You sound as if you have someone from a Public Entity who is willing to understand your plight and work with you. Those guys are far and few down here. He is right that he can ground the RR cable and use a magnetometer to locate the cable, depending on depth, and they work deep. Hopefully this will be a somewhat simple solution to getting the cable out, cleaned and back to the understanding rental company. Good for them working with you. Good Luck, David
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Old 01-26-2010, 01:48 PM   #9
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


on a spartan machine you can reverse direction but you stand a chance of loosing the leader and auger bit
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Old 01-26-2010, 03:42 PM   #10
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


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on a spartan machine you can reverse direction but you stand a chance of loosing the leader and auger bit
Here's an update, guys.....I don't know the brand of Roto-rooter as it is already back with the rental company, RSC. The manager out there was very understanding of the situation and when I returned it today around 11:30 he was quite gracious. I'll definitely rent from them again! The roto-rooter did have a reverse function and we tried that again and again before we gave up. We even tried turning the basket by hand in reverse and "assisting" the rotation with a pipe wrench on the Roto-rooter's cable, but in the end it was just too stuck to turn and just kinked up. The way the end fixtures hook up to the cable on this rental unit would prevent it from being "backed off", sort of a "tongue and groove" type of connection secured by a large screw through all three pieces.

Time to call for help......

The city brought out a backhoe today and there is right now a hole in my back yard large enough to fit a Volkswagen Beetle into. The problem did in fact turn out to be at the junction between my PVC main line and the city's clay line. Apparently when they built the house in 1978 the PVC pipe was just slipped into a sleeve on the clay line and then concrete was poured around it. That was little deterrent to the roots of that large pecan tree that was 10' to the east. The clay pipe was so clogged that the city had to cut off 3' to get to clear pipe so they could rejoin my main line. There is now about 6' of new PVC, all glued together well, joined to the clay pipe in a very tight "butt joint", then further reinforced by a rubber sleeve with large "hose clamps" on each of the two ends, and the junction is now encased in about 6" of new concrete. The house is 30 years old and I suspect that the new union is good for at least another 30 years.......

SO glad to have the use of water back....I managed a shower at a friend's house yesterday, but before that it had been 3 days and I was almost afraid to go outside for fear there would be a lynching . Now I get to reset the two toilets and then take a good, long, hot shower. For the past 2 months I had to shower in just a trickle of water, now I know why. No reason to continue that now, the main line is clean as a whistle and I can get a decent flow going .

Oh, and by the way, in the process of locating the main line, we did find the cleanout, buried at least 2" deep. I'm taking photos and making measurements, next time there's an issue I'll at least know where the main line exits the house!

Dugly ::
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Old 01-26-2010, 05:34 PM   #11
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


Hind site is 20 20 sorry I didn't tell you to guess where the line exits the house and then draw an imaginary line to the curb or where the main line is the take a screw driver and go all along the ground stabbing until you hit it usually you'll find the clean out but it can be very frustrating also.

Oh well maybe this will help someone else..
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Old 01-26-2010, 06:46 PM   #12
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


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Originally Posted by SULTINI View Post
Hind site is 20 20 sorry I didn't tell you to guess where the line exits the house and then draw an imaginary line to the curb or where the main line is the take a screw driver and go all along the ground stabbing until you hit it usually you'll find the clean out but it can be very frustrating also.

Oh well maybe this will help someone else..
I would have been 6 feet off at least, more like 7 or 8. I really thought the main line ran from that bathroom in the SW corner across the house to the east, exiting the house just past connecting to that toilet in that bathroom, on the east side of the house. Then, knowing that the city sewer line runs along the back fence, I would have expected it to make a 90* turn and head south to the city sewer line.

In the end, apparently the drain line for that toilet in the east bathroom runs west for about 5', then connects to a Y to which the drain line for other bathroom in the SW corner of the house also connects, then the main line continues out the south wall of the house. Since it is slab construction, that Y HAS to be under the concrete floor ( it wouldn't be encased inside of the concrete slab, would it ???)! I guess I would not have designed it that way, with what I might suspect to be a failure-prone fitting in an inaccessable location, but what do I know, I'm not a plumber.

I'm still amazed that anybody buried the cleanout . I own a home in SW Kansas and the cleanout sticks out of the ground high enough that I can not run the lawnmower over it. The one at a friend's house (actually, two of them, one to aim the Roto-rooter toward the outer limits of the drain line and the other to aim it back towards the house) stick up out of the ground like tree stumps about 6" to 8". My friend is going to craft a bench to place over them to hide them when not needed, not a bad idea.

I, too, hope this saga can benefit someone in the future . My mom always said "No man is a total failure, he can always serve as a bad example". I guess I can be that bad example......seems every project in which I engage gets WAAAAY out of hand.......and this one was no exception !

Dugly
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Old 01-26-2010, 06:51 PM   #13
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


HooRAY! I am such a fan of our publicly owned utility and love to hear about it when other utility companies get things right!
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Old 01-27-2010, 01:45 AM   #14
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


main lines can be a bear! i always like to run water down the line as im running a clogged drain it helps wash stuff out as your cutting through and helps you know when line opens.that spring looking attachment you were using is for grabbing things and pulling them back which is exactly what happened,the grabbing part anyway! for a main line id suggest using a cutter on end of cable it actually chops stuff up as it goes,just keep working it back and forth to chip away at whats in the line.also run the machine from the time cable goes into line to get a run at the clog,this also helps take slack out of cable before it hits the clog.did you extend the cleanout to ground level?shorten the distance to the clog and machine will work better
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Old 01-27-2010, 03:57 AM   #15
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Help!!! Roto-rooter cable is now stuck in sewer line and won't come out!!!


quote" Now I get to reset the two toilets and then take a good, long, hot shower. For the past 2 months I had to shower in just a trickle of water, now I know why. No reason to continue that now, the main line is clean as a whistle and I can get a decent flow going"

I am trying to understand what the main line would have to do with the flow of the shower??

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