View Full Version : Main (?) Drain Issue

03-10-2013, 08:14 PM
So I did a load of laundry yesterday and as the machine drained it overflowed out of the drain and partially soaked the basement floor. This has happened before. Last time it was due to a Lego guy (got 3 kids in the house) and a big hunk of lint stuck in the drain. Once the obstruction was removed all was well....this time no such luck. Now it seems that if we use any water it backs up out of the same washing machine drain location. Run the kitchen sink for 20 seconds it backs up. Flush the toilet, it backs up. SO far things seem to be pretty clean in terms of water backing up, but now since the toilet is involved I'm really not sure how long that's going to be the case. I put a call in to my plumber in the hopes that i can get on the schedule for first thing tomorrow. My first question is this. The kitchen sink and wash machine drain through a 2" copper line. My toilet, tub, and bathroom sink (2nd floor) drain through the main 4" stack. Since both cause a water backup at the lowest open point, that being my basement washing machine drain, is it safe to assume that the clog is beyond where the two drain lines intersect? This is my assumption as of now. There is only maybe 5' of 4" drain after the two intersect before the 4" main exits the building. Within that 5' section there is a cleanout on the top of the pipe. There is also three rubber unions (my terminology is probably off here)...two on the house side of the cleanout, and one on the street side of the cleanout. The problem is that this area is under my existing basement stairs (100+ year old house) and there is almost no way to effectively access that area of piping without either ripping out 1/2 my basement stairs, or being a bit of a contortionist and working on it as it is. Not being a plumber I'm not sure if it's worth trying on my own. In a nearly perfect world I'd act like a contortionist, remove a section of the existing 4" drain, probaly the part that holds the cleanout, use a bladder to try to blow out the street side of the pipe, snake out the house side of the pipe, and then replace the removed section of cast iron with a new section of PVC and two new rubber unions. In a perfect world I would remove the furthestmost union towards the street, remove the connection where the 2" copper drain connects to the main drain, break the existing main (making a clean break concerns me A LOT) at the existing elbow where it turns vertical, blow out the existing street side main with a bladder, then using rubber unions replace the entire run of main drain with PVC being sure to reconnect the 2" copper drain and installing 2 where the elbow is now, and one just beyond where the 2" drain enters the 4" main.
So I guess the overall question is should I attempt to do this myself, or should I leave it to the plumber? Keep in mind I can solder a joint, trap a sink, install a hot water heater, and am a GC, so I am not a total dummy when it comes to this stuff, but I am not a plumber. It seems pretty straight forward, and I'd love to save myself a considerable amount of $$, but again, I'm not a plumber and breaking the 4" cast iron main cleanly makes me nervous.
So, do you think I should try it on my own? Do you think my assumption of the location of the problem seems correct?

03-10-2013, 09:58 PM
Get a big bucket and have spares on hand if you open that clean out yourself :eek:

Sounds like its on the way out thru tha main

Good luck
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03-11-2013, 04:42 AM
Call the city first and see if they will clean the drain or call Roto-rooter!

03-11-2013, 06:54 AM
have you ever seen one of those hose attachments that swell up like a balloon
(made of rubber) effectively sealing the open pipe you stuck it in while still spraying
a jet of water?

these will often do the trick and are not expensive

03-11-2013, 07:46 AM
I actually bought one of those yesterday Raven. My apprehension is that getting past the 2" drain connection in the 4" main is an almost impossible run. If I open the clean out on the street side of the 2" drain connection, I will only be cleaning the last 3 feet of 4' main...I really wish I had a clean out at the elbow...I'll go take some pictures.
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Sea Dangles
03-11-2013, 09:45 AM
Call a service,it will be money spent wisely. This is the type of issue you really can't guess on.

03-11-2013, 09:54 AM
So Mr. Drain showed up and spent about an hour and a half clearing the main, our tub drain (which has always been slow) and videoing our main. Our neighbors maple trees roots are growing into our drain line, and there was a repair done at one point to the 6" city line that is somewhat problematic as it seems like a place for lots of debris to get hung up. Another problem was the cleaning wipes the wife has been flushing down the drain. Anyway, thanks for the to test the new clean lines!
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03-11-2013, 10:45 AM
Glad to see you got to the ROOT of the problem!
I saw on a DIY show or something there is actually some process now you can re-line the inner side of the drain pipe to smooth out cracks and retard root infiltration.

Had a neighbor that thought you could throw dispo-diapers down the sewer, plugged it right up. The city came to clear and everyone was mad since they had to break the newly tarred street! In the brand new house less than a yr, never made a mortgage payment, and just left......sub-prime mess!

03-11-2013, 11:18 AM
yeah...once the old maple tree finds
the richest fertilizer on the planet
your in deep trouble.

03-12-2013, 11:41 AM
never never never flush dental floss in the hopper

same results

BTW , Raven I use thouse all the time , I bought every size years ago down spags

03-12-2013, 04:35 PM
sorry caps, is to take two pieces of pvc tubing one that fits inside another
about 2 feet long each, so it's like sliding a trombone musical instrument
that you slide those over your short section of plumbing snake that's maybe
6 feet long... before attaching it to your drill of choice....

now - you have a container apparatus that allows you to spin the snake
without it making wild gyrations because they're held small inside the tubing
and as you feed the snake into your drain pipe you slide the two tubes
together as more snake enters the drain pipe giving you further reach