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mason 01-09-2009 05:47 AM

New drains under the basement floor, guidance needed
I recently bought a wonderful little bungalow overlooking a park, which came complete with a long list of secrets. This evening (morning?) the woman and I were watching TV (in the basement) while the laundry ran, and we noticed a [not so] little problem.

The Layout:
There are drain fittings for a bathroom in the basement floor: an ancient toilet, a shower/tub (2 inch?) fitting, and a place where a sink used to be. The sink drain used to tie into the existing 4in drain that serves the main floor bathroom; this drain was removed following a shoddy repair of said 4in pipe. Said 4in pipe is vented by a stinkpipe that is 4 inches at the subfloor, and exits the roof at a 2in diameter.
Not 4 feet away is the other drain system; a 2in drain pipe coming from the kitchen and vented by a 2 inch pipe, with the laundry tub feeding into an open Y (I did this when we moved in, the previous laundry hose ran into the floor drain). These drains all meet up and travel under the longest possible stretch of my floor, and exit in the approximate point shown.
I hope this conveys the basic idea. The black arrow represents North (old habit).

So, whilst the laundry ran, our drains bubbled over with a delightful mix of soiled soapy water, bleach, and heartache. We had these pipes roto-rooted not 8 weeks ago, and I thought the repairs I had made would hold longer than this; alas, my repairs are sound; these are new problems [to us].

The problem:
The washing machine drains into the laundry tub, which drains into the 2 in stack. When this occurs, soiled water comes first from the 2in shower drain, then from the floor drain, and finally from the ancient toilet. By stuffing dog-chewed socks into the laundry tub drain, I managed to slow its draining to the point that the tub can fill and drain slowly enough to avoid bubbling up in the aforementioned [unintended and undesired] places. I feel it is only a matter of time before shower, kitchen or toilet water appears in these roles.

The plan:
This is our first house, very likely our last house, and the woman and I both prefer a "do it right, ONE time, and have it outlive us" mentality. We intend to tear up the basement floor to access the drains, tear them out, replace them, and pour new concrete.

The particulars:
House built in 1944 (no, I didn't think there was much residential building during this period either).
Drains are all cast iron. All Cast iron fixtures that currently breach the concrete floor are shot, and need replacing (no threads, corroded to 1/3 their original thickness).
We want to maintain the current bathroom fittings in more-or-less the same places, as we intend to build a 3/4 bath there in the coming years.
We want to add a stub for a future drain stack near the point where the drain lines exit the house, to serve a future 2nd-floor bathroom.

The queries:
./How many times should a prudent person pay for pipe snaking before replacing drain pipes?
./Should all pipes be replaced with DWV (the stuff that the Orange Empire is pushing on me?
./Is there a superior product that doesn't break the bank for drain pipes that run through basement, through concrete floor and ~25 ft under concrete floor to city sewer lines? Sched 40? Sched 80? Sched 120? I'm serious; I REALLY want these pipes to outlive me (I'm 30).
./Is there a size recommendation for the under-the-concrete-floor drain pipes? Should everything be transitioned to 4in as quickly as possible. Should all traps be 2in and tansitioned to 4in after the trap?
./Is 1/4in per foot the prudent pitch, or should i strive for something more? Is it ideal to maintain the pitch of the current drain[s]?

I've remodeled hundreds of Kitchens & Baths, but never dealt with drains much beyond the trap. Lend me the benefit of your experience[s], and tell a [semi]hapless DIYer about the particulars of residential drain pipes.

The caveats:
./Professional advice is most welcome; bills from professionals need to be avoided at all costs; this will be a "me and the guys" project."
./I don't know if permits are required for a project of this nature. Unless a compelling argument is made in favor of pursuing permits, I do not intend to find out.
./I would very much enjoy seeing the word "because" especially if it is followed by concrete explanations for the purpose[s] behind one product or method over others. Learning feeds me.

biggles 01-09-2009 08:32 AM

i just see one thing here is your laundry into the slop sink(pumped water)....thats OK, but the slop sink(trapped) into the 2" vent and the floor drain below that......your U TUBING the vent line,and thats why it is rising up.sounds weird but how about draining the laundry into the toilet bowl and see if you get a rise?the toilet has to be connected to the actual line going out.....right:huh: and then the VENT will be free to vent.that floor drain is open to the space as if you could walk over it and or pour water down into it?if you don't smell sewer gas it must be trapped also.what happens(downstairs)when the water is drained from the sinks/showers/toilet up on the main floor....

mason 01-09-2009 12:40 PM

The 2in line that the laundry tub currently drains into is also the drain line from the kitchen above; it is more than a vent (I think).

When the water begins backing up, it comes up into the toilet and up through the unused shower drain. It also comes up in the floor drain.

While she showered today I was on duty in the basement, watching for backups. The bathroom drains into the 4in drain pictured above. After 2-3 minutes of showering, the toilet began "gurgling." 4 or 5 minutes later, it began filling with dark water. As the toilet filled, water dribbled out of the shower drain, and appeared in the floor drain. The water in the floor drain never got higher than 2 in below the floor. The toilet would have overflowed if she hadn't paused the shower.
She stopped the water in the shower, and the toilet slowly drained down. she resumed her shower, and the toilet water level rose again. Now that her shower has been done for ~10 minutes, the toilet water level is down and it is "gurgling" again.

The basement toilet is never used; I'm not confident in any aspect of it's functioning, even as a seat.
Under normal circumstances, the floor drain and unused bath fittings have no discernible odor.

biggles 01-09-2009 03:22 PM

if your standing in the basement at what height would you say the street sewer line comes into the house.....if it is below all the bubbling gurgling things in the basement you have a major restriction going out into the there a clean out T/Y within the basement no matter what height the main is?this is fun.......isn't it.i'am wondering what would happen if you took a garden hose and put it down the roof vent(S) and ran the water:wink:....MAYBE in the SPRING?i can tell you one thing any and all drains have to be trapped going into the main or you will get sewer the city sewer is just above the floor there and with a retriction in that main trap/line going out into the street.

mason 01-09-2009 05:31 PM

The sewer line goes straight down through the concrete floor, and heads to the street via the approximate direction shown by the red arrow. I live on a bit of a hill, so it isn;t unreasonable for the sewer line to run under my basement floor and pitch down gently all the way to the city.

There is a cleanout, at the base of the 4in line, 1 in above the floor. If I was going to feed something down it, I would most likely choose a power snake, but a garden hose teases me with the promise of good stories to tell.

I'm tempted to just call the roto guys again, but I feel like their service is something I can pretty well do myself for a lot less money.

Bill Leland 01-09-2009 06:04 PM

RIGHT" THE FLOOR HAS TO COME OUT SO YOU CAN SEE WHAT YOU HAVE OLD TIME PLUMBERS WEREN'T AS GOOD AS THEY WERE CRACKED UP TO BE. i'D REPIPE USING EITHER ABS OR PCV SCHEDULE 40 IT WILL OUT LAST YOU If you will prepare a not even to scale a rough layout of room and current fixtures and planned future fixtures scan and email to me at: I'll prepare a layout as well as a take off list of all materials required to install a complete DWV system that will pass the UPC inspection should you get caught. be certain to put where the tie in to city sewer is on plan. later on I had my own company for nearly 30 years.

mason 01-10-2009 04:58 PM

Thanks Bill, that's quite kind of you. I'm working too much this weekend, but I'll make time for that Monday or Tuesday, and I'll post it here as well as emailing it to you. For the moment, I'm planning on renting a snake and trying to clear the obstruction myself. I'm still planning on replacing all these pipes, but I certainly wouldn't mind waiting for spring or summer to do it.

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