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J187 05-01-2007 09:00 AM

Waste Stack backing up....
Came home yesterday to find a flood in my laundry room. Check the disharge hose for the washer and it was fine. My next suspect was the standpipe and trap, that was fine too. So, I turned my attention to the bigger picture - the main stack. After a few experiments, I found that running water from either the bathroom sink, kitchen sink, tub or washer would EVENTUALLY cause the water in the washing machine stand pipe to gurgle and slowly rise. Then, if I shutoff the water, it would slowly go down again. Thing is, it seems to take quite a bit of water before the problem occurs, likely the flood was the result of my showering and then immediately doing laundry. With just the kitchen faucet it takes around 10 minutes or so before the water starts to rise. My question is, would it be a waste of time trying to snake down the standpipe to clear the main stack?

The laundry room standpipe is on the first level of my split level home, about 30" above the concrete, and connects to the main stack right almost at floor level, so obviously the clog is pretty far down, correct?

I'm exactly sure where the main cleanout is in relation to the standpipe connection, I don't remember seeing it, but I had to run out this morning, I can check later.

Mike Swearingen 05-01-2007 12:16 PM

Sounds like you have a clog in the main sewer/septic drain line (most likely) or possibly the stack.
I would rent a heavy-duty plumber's snake, open clean-out plugs on the main line, and snake it out from the house to the street sewer line or septic tank, first.
If that doesn't clear it, clean out the stack of anything that you can reach, snake it, too, and then flush it down with a water hose sprayer.
If that still doesn't do it - and you have sectional drain line (cast iron, etc.), than you probably have a root problem. A snake will just punch right through roots, but won't clean them out. You can "roto-rooter" (rented machine) roots out, but they will always come back in 1.5-2 years.
The only way to permanently get rid of a root problem is to get rid of the sectional line that lets them in in the first place (replace with "glued" plastic white PVC or black plastic ABS, which will not allow roots to enter.)
As a last resort if you really want to know what's going on, you can hire a plumber or drain cleaning company with a video camera to take a look all the way down the line for roots, leaks, corrosion, collapse, etc. and go from there.
Good Luck!

J187 05-01-2007 01:27 PM

Yeah, I'm sure its in the sewer line, takes to long to back up from the BOTTOM of the stack to be anywhere else. I'm going to try the snake I have available to me first. Failing that, I'll rent the roto rooter thing. Thanks.

Ishmael 05-01-2007 02:29 PM

If your house is on a septic system, when was the last time the tank was pumped out? Should be done at least every two years.

J187 05-01-2007 02:40 PM

Thanks, I'm not on a septic system.

J187 05-02-2007 07:36 AM

Update - A friend lent me a power auger last night. I found the main cleanout INSIDE THE WALL OF MY GARAGE, nice, huh? So after tearing down the plaster and having to chisel away the cleanout plug, I used the auger. I felt a slowing of the motor, backed up and went forward, back and forth a few times and it went on. Went all the way in and I brought it out. I ran the water for around 20 minutes checking the stand pipe to see if the level would rise. It did not. Thought I was good, so I called it a night. Woke up this morning, showered and went to leave and the laundry room is flooded..ugh. I wondered if maybe there is a blockage out of reach of the auger, I"m not even sure how long it is, should I try to estimate how far the blockage is with math by pooring a certain amount of water into the cleanout hole maybe? Is it worth trying any chemicals? The auger again?

Should I maybe rent a "rooter" w/ a cutting head and try that?

Mike Swearingen 05-02-2007 01:33 PM

Do you have sectional drain line (cast iron, etc.)?
Try renting a heavy-duty plumber's snake first and snaking the line from the clean-out to the street line.
If that doesn't do it, then rent a "roto-rooter" type machine. The snake will be much cheaper to rent than the machine, and just may do the trick unless it's roots.
Good Luck!

J187 05-02-2007 02:14 PM

Thanks mike, I think the power auger that I tried last night was about as heavy duty as the ones they rent, it was 1/2 hp, I think 60ft or so. I would have sworn it worked.... I will try again tonight, at least this time I'll test it better, I'll hook a section of hose up to the washing machine supply line and have control of the water flow and I''ll pump many gallons down there til I either get it to back up to the clean out plug or I feel that its taken enough water that its fixed. Thanks.

KUIPORNG 05-02-2007 02:23 PM

I saw my basement have more than one cleanout... it has four or five or more... don't you... wouldn't you want to snake all of them....

I have by no mean know much about this topics buy very curious in learning from it...

J187 05-02-2007 02:48 PM

Actually K, the standpipe for my washer which is the origin of the spillover is the second to last branch into the main stack before it goes below ground. The only branch further down, is the main cleanout. Because the water backs up to there, I know that the blockage MUST be at least that far down or more, so I can eliminate all the other cleanouts and traps above. Otherwise, I would started higher and worked lower. I cannot seem to find a house trap or anything else further down the line to the street, but considering my stack cleanout was burried in drywall, god knows I might have a house trap burried in the concrete floor....

KUIPORNG 05-02-2007 02:52 PM

Just out of curiorsty, how would you know the map of your drain pipes... which one last which one first..etc... I bought a house new, and there is no such information given to me.... may be you can figure this out by looking at the pipes above the ground and the grade of your house.... etc....

J187 05-02-2007 03:31 PM

In my house, it is obvious. Its a split level and much of the plumbing is exposed (except apparently the cleanouts :confused1: ). I put in the drain for my the new tub/shower I intalled, so I know that one. The sink and dishwasher from the kitchen is the only drain line that comes from that side of the house. The toilet is straight down the main stack and the bathroom sink comes right next to the toilet. The standpipe for the washer is plain-view connected to the stack at the very bottom, just above the cleanout - thats all I got.

Mike Swearingen 05-03-2007 09:08 AM

If 60' gets from your clean-out to well into the street line, you should be allright. However, if the distance is greater and it still backs up, you may need to rent one of the 100' heavy-duty plumber's snakes.

J187 05-03-2007 09:15 AM

I'm not sure if others realize this, I did not, but apparently many citys and towns will check the city pipes at your property for free just upon request. I spoke w/ my water/sewer dept this morning, they are going to head out there and check it out. They will call me this afternoon w/ an answer, either, Yes its on our side, well take care of it or no, its your line and you have to hire someone or DIY. I didn't realize this was available, but its great to know. Upon asking a friend who works for the city I work in, he said they do it too.

KUIPORNG 05-03-2007 09:19 AM

Yes , city go to my neighbour's front yard do heavy digging with those trucks ... because my neigbours drain is not working.... that time they only move in for 10days in the new house..... of course, no charge to neighbour... or should say cover by property tax....

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