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Rumrumm 12-29-2012 07:17 PM

PLEASE bear with me... May be long...
Older home, single-level built in the 70's.

Had plumbing updates such as a shower added to a half-bath back in the summer, with no problems until now.

Recently, loud bubbling noises began in the 2 toilets, with no clothes or dish-washing activity.

One night, clear clean water puddled around the base of one of the toilets, rather than overflowing the bowl. Cleaned it up, no further incidents for a few days.

Then, while doing laundry, an increased amount of bubbling noises and clear, clean water reappeared at the base of the same toilet, plus more clear, clean water backed up into the bathtub and shower stall at the same time, but drained away on their own.

We stopped doing laundry for 4 to 5 days and both toilets flushed normally with no leakage. We decided to risk a load of laundry.

This time clean soapy water leaked under the washing machine and brown sludgy water backed up into the shower stall and bathtub, and brown water leaked from the base of the same toilet. Both toilets seem to flush normally after a few hours of solitude unless water has been flowing recently in a kitchen or lavatory sink.

Then they can be difficult if not impossible to totally flush the residue. What is the most cost-effective & logical method to troubleshoot this situation prior to calling in a pro?

jagans 12-29-2012 07:46 PM


buddy builder 12-29-2012 08:03 PM

where your 4" lines comes out of the house heading to sewer or septic tank should have a clean out plug near the house. if you can find this unscrew it. if water comes out the problem is downhill away from the house. if it looks good and not backed up go back and run water through the lines starting at the nearest room with water toward the clean out. drain good? then problem is further back in the line. if possible work your way toward the farthest room from the clean out. the water coming around the base of your commode is where the seal is not good. you need to fix that. that is a great place to pull the commode and snake the line out to fix your blockage. easy to get a snake in and you should be close to the problem if it is under the house not in the yard. you kill two birds in one stone doing this. the blockage is more than likely in the main line since it backed up in the commode with the other places.

buddy builder 12-29-2012 08:08 PM

the clean out plug i mentioned above may be in the ground and covered up. if this is a 70's house after the drain leaves the house it may be converted to an old fiber type pipe. i find a lot of roots from the flower bed grows into the pipe at this point near the house. i would point my finger in that area first.

AllanJ 12-30-2012 07:15 AM

You have a blockage some distance down the drain line. You can get in one toilet flush or a brief shower before it backs up while a washing machine load is sure to fill the drain pipe ahead of the blockage faster than the water can seep through the blockage.

Javiles 12-30-2012 10:24 AM

Whatever You do DO NOT CALL ROTO ROOTER! :pirate: could have one of a few problems depending on.... septic system vs City sewer could be as simple as a rodding or as expensive as a drain field.????

Rumrumm 12-30-2012 10:51 AM

Thanks for everyone's input!
I won't bore you with our overall situation (well beyond plumbing) but using all this info HAS to improve an unbelievably difficult current phase of our lives.

We have several inches of snow to limit our landscape visibility, but will soon begin our treasure hunt for this cleanout plug (could it even be UNDER the house?), and possibly limiting or even eliminating a pro will allow food on the table for a little longer.

Wish us luck, & thanks again! Hopefully I'll soon have good news to share, and will somehow pay this forward to others someday soon.

joecaption 12-30-2012 10:55 AM

Trust me on this, your not alone. These are tough times were going through.

Rumrumm 12-30-2012 11:03 AM

City sewer, no basement (only concrete block foundation with lots of mud, water/gas/insulation/drain pipes and assorted cobwebs in a very low crawlspace, and unfortunately a not-so-small Santa Claus-profile!).

Plus the before-mentioned summer remodeling was entirely accomplished by a certain brother-in-law (who could make Moe-Larry-Curley "Family Handman Magazine's MEN-0F-THE-YEAR!) Help me pray there really is NO connection there as the entire home could be condemned!

If all this could someday/somehow be labeled humorous, we need a forum section labeled as such! Even some of his photographed handiwork would make anyone wipe tears while laughing!!!

jagans 12-30-2012 11:56 AM

It sounds to me like you have a comedy of errors going on that will require a good bit of logical deductive reasoning. Was the rough in for the addition done by a real plumber that understands venting and proper slope? An improperly sloped main waste pipe can clog up in as little as two to three months. It would probably make sense to run a good snake with a cutter-head down through your main soil stack from the roof to the street to start with, while running a hose into the stack.

You are probably too young to remember these things but there was a ladies shaver shaped like an octagon called a flicker (I think) I had a situation where a child had thrown one of these things into a toilet and flushed it. It got wedged into an elbow in the main soil stack, and would flip shut and open intermittently just like a choke plate on a carburetor. Drove me nuts, But I figured the most logical location for the stoppage and cut out the two cast iron ELS, and there the damn thing was. Problem solved.

Drainage problems can be bizarre.

Rumrumm 12-30-2012 12:22 PM

Not sure about those Flickers, but I admit to being in my 6th decade of existence, just not plumbing-involved very deeply before.

I know what a basic hand-cranked snake is, but have none, so probably best to call a pro when the lawn water recedes.

I can rebuild a '67 Mustang from the ground-up, or repair nearly anything electronic, but pretty limited to basics on plumbing. To be as nice as possible, maybe too nice, my brother-in-law has attempted lots of plumbing/remodeling across 3 states, but with short-term successes, and sometimes nauseating long-term results, and keeps adding to his resume'.

This may be one of his biggest. (I'll spare you folks the OTHER pending plumbing disaster that has to wait until THIS one is dealt with!) MIGHT have found the cleanout by lining up the largest roofvent and walking backward into the yard, but it seems to be in the metal water-meter box which, when opened, is standing in ground-level water, at least 2 feet deep, with about 6 inches of snow melting all around, and more rain/snow within the next few days, so cannot verify if the cleanout is down there with the meter & water shutoff valve.

This little disaster may be on hold. Hope you and everyone else's holidays have been better, and may 2013 be your best year ever! Thanks again for the input. And please be patient if I have more questions as this mess evolves...

oh'mike 12-30-2012 12:40 PM

Rum Rum---not all houses have outside cleanouts---so don't go crazy looking for one---

Look in the crawl space for the exit point for the main drain--if you don't find a cleanout outside in line with that pipe--you likely don't have one--

Rodding to the street from inside is possible---call a plumber or find an inside cleanout plub and do it yourself.

Rumrumm 12-30-2012 12:46 PM

Thanks, Joe. I am well aware of this, and how tiny my problems are compared to so many others. I am humbled, thankful, and optimistic that me, my family, and this entire country can get past politics, hurricanes, snow, prejudices, and all stand tall again, arm-in-arm, someday soon.

Rumrumm 12-30-2012 12:57 PM

Oh' Mike, I understand your comment about how new members could help the responses by identifying their locations, and I have since updated mine thanks to you pointing out the lack in my info. Just don't assume everyone from where I reside believes "Redneck" is a positive term. I prefer "good country folk"... Sometimes regional biases can be roadblocks to/for some people, so just list me as a "proud
American"... Smiles!!!!!!

jagans 12-30-2012 01:20 PM

You should be able to have somebody like rotorooter run a snake from up on the roof down through your main soil stack all the way out to the sewer, unless you have a back flow prevention check valve in the line. Having a sewer clean out in the same location as your fresh water supply would be insane. Think about it.

You cant be too far back woods, otherwise you would have one of those toilets that never needs flushing, and never backs up, but could explode, given the right circumstances. :whistling2:

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