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Reckless Optimist
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16 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Here's a picture looking down into the cellar access outside my house. You can see toilet paper scattered around the pipe at bottom right:



Why is this happening, and how do I fix it? :crying:

EDIT: Me and my dad just last year put in the walls of this cellar access to keep the dirt from caving in. The bottom part of the pipe was buried before that. I don't know if there was ever a lid on that open part.
 

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Super Moderator
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7,800 Posts
Yes, I agree, Get a clean out plug/lid on that open pipe. Not sure what's going on, that may be a vent?? The cleanout looks like it's right next to it.

Anyway, that should not be open, that's why sewage is overflowing in your crawl space.

Close that up and see what happens. If nothing flushes, or drains slow you have a partial blockage or vent problem that needs snaking/fixing.
 

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Reckless Optimist
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
@jmon: My dad said the open part is a vent, but I don't know how qualified he is. So, trial and error, plug it and see what happens... What do I ask for at the hardware store to plug it with? :eek:
 

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Super Moderator
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@jmon : My dad said the open part is a vent, but I don't know how qualified he is. So, trial and error, plug it and see what happens... What do I ask for at the hardware store to plug it with? :eek:
Neal may be correct. Probably the way it was originally plumbed.

Measure it and see how big the diameter is. Can't tell by the pic, but I'm guessing 3in.?? If it's threaded, they sell iron threaded clean out plugs, or if no threads, you can install gripper plug, which seals as you tighten it down. Sold at any big box or hardware store.

If your father is correct and that is a vent and you close/seal it up, you may have draining issues. Regardless, you can't let the sewage keep overflowing into the crawl space like that. It would need to be snaked, and fixed.

There should be a main sewer vent going out the roof??
 

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Reckless Optimist
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
There should be a main sewer vent going out the roof??
There is!

OK, update:

I confess that I have not yet actually done the things recommended in this thread--that is, plug the opening and snake the pipe if that causes drainage issues.

What I DID do was call a plumber and ask for his opinion and estimate.

He said @Nealtw is right, it's an old house trap like in the picture. He recommended replacing the house trap, though I'm not sure if that's because the house trap is actually causing a problem or if it's just because it's "obsolete technology", as he called it, which might as well be updated.

While he was there, I also showed him the vertical cast iron drainage pipe leading to this, which has a cracked fitting. I asked if it needed replaced, and he said yes, including some old lead cleanout above that and who knows what else.

The estimate he gave for replacing everything from the house trap to the roof vent is about $2000.00.

My dad, the true DIY-er (not me), hates to spend money on anything he could accomplish for less, no matter how much longer it would take. He says we could do all that ourselves.

But I am focused on overhauling my entire yard before summer is over, so I don't want to stop and spend a couple weeks on this project instead.

I would be willing to put off this project until next year after my yard is finished, if the project isn't critical. But something else to keep in mind is there seems to be a leak around the roof vent which drips into my bathroom cabinet when it rains.

I also want to turn my toilet 90 degrees, which I imagine will require moving some pipes. I don't care whether that happens now or a year from now, but I figure I'd better include it in this project rather than replace all this stuff and then have to come back and move it again later.

My last consideration is: What if I did pay the plumber the $2000.00 to replace the whole setup, but in doing so, something goes wrong with the sewer line under my yard, requiring even more work and excavation? On one hand, I don't want to spend the extra money. On the other, now's the perfect time to excavate my yard since I'm tearing it apart anyway.

Given this new information, do you have any advice? Should I pay the plumber or put if off to DIY another day?

Thank you.
 

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retired framer
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Lot's of old houses had things like S trap which are bad news for letting gas up from the sewer, I would think hat whole house trap solved some of those problems. So if you do away with it, every other trap has to be inspected and maybe corrected to have proper venting.

If dad was right and it was left open for venting, that would indicate that you do have problem with other vents.

If it was left open and one day it backed up and flooded, what was the problem.
Is the septic tank full, or is the field at end of life.
 

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Reckless Optimist
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Lot's of old houses had things like S trap which are bad news for letting gas up from the sewer, I would think hat whole house trap solved some of those problems.
Thank you for that explanation! Now it makes sense to me.

I don't know why it overflowed in the first place. The good news is it doesn't seem to be an ongoing problem, though, because I haven't seen it happen again since I first noticed it months ago.

You make a good point about needing to inspect the other traps and vents. *sigh* I haven't come to a decision yet.
 
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