View Full Version : drainage problems

12-09-2004, 04:38 PM
we've got a slow drainage problem in our OLD house. we've checked the vent - clear. we've snaked out the main line from the clean out right out to the street. husband pushed the snake through with no problem though he did feel something "spongy". Toilet flushed fine for a couple of days after that then, when the washing machine was draining, water backed up into the tub, bathroom sink from the overflow thingies and the water level rose in the toilet. stuck the plunger in the toilet and the water drained out right away. It happened so suddenly we figured whatever was blocking it was freed. Flushed to toilet a few times and ran the water in the tub to drain it some more. No problems for another couple of days. drainage gets slower and slower, then clears up. we have no back up of dirty water at all, no odor and the problem is not constant. we have no trees near by (closest one is probably 100 ft away). how can you tell if a pipe has collapsed? we don't want to go through the replacement process if it isn't necessary.


12-09-2004, 04:54 PM
I'm not a pro, so there are probably some other ideas here I'm not aware of. I'd consider hiring a company to run a video camera down the line. Then, you'd know what is going on. Not sure what it would cost - probably depends on how much time they need above a standard setup fee.

12-10-2004, 06:19 AM
I live in eastern nova scotia, not even sure if the video service is available here. i did forget to mention the gurgling when you flush. this too is periodic.

Gerald Collins
12-11-2004, 08:19 AM
Hi Barb,

Your symptoms sound very much like a problem a friend has in her six year old house which has existed since new. She had a plumber runa a camera thru the commode drain all the way to the street and they found no obstruction.
We sort of suspect it may be a vent related problem, and I have come to this site today to get help. If I get to the bottom of the problem I will write you about it, and I would appreciate it if you would do the same.

Gerald Collins in Atlanta grc2@bellsouth.net

12-11-2004, 07:01 PM
OK, let's be clear about one thing: vents do not help a fixture drain. A plumbing system needs NO vents for proper drainage. However, we are dealing with sewer gas and therefor we have traps. The vents are to keep the traps from siphoning dry.

12-13-2004, 03:45 PM
Fifty bucks ($ US) says you have got something cloth hung up in the DWV system.

People like to stack hand towels and wash clothes on the back of the toilet where the ultimately end up in the bowl (and maybe flushed).

When the get hung up on something, they create weird intermittant obstructions that just won't go away.

I'd try to get at the squishy obstruction. Maybe see if it can be backed out through a roof vent. Or at least work it till you don't have anything squishy.

12-13-2004, 04:41 PM
well, you're right about the cloth thing in there. i definitely emptied a bucket of water I was using for cleaning with a cloth rag in it. that was ages ago (well over a year) and i've never done it again. I would have thought that was washed away long ago. we used some heavy duty line cleaner (clearline) but no change. I checked into the video and it's just too expensive (135/hr.) we'd have a better idea of the problem but we'd still have a problem. we're going to go for the high pressure cleaning and if that doesn't work or if it only works for a short time, we'll dig it up. we're reluctant to do it because we're getting curb and gutter next year and we'll have to pay for paving that's only going to be torn up in under a year.
thanks to all for the suggestions

12-23-2004, 10:40 AM
Booked the sewer guys to come dig up the line on Monday. They show up on today (thursday) to dig it up. Everything is working fine so we put them on hold for now. Praying for a Christmas miracle not disaster. They mentioned something about "tar paper pipes". Anyone familiar with this? or even better,
experience? They did say that the ground did not look like there was anything suspicious happening underneath it, we only have a four foot frost wall and the pipe is visible in the crawlspace so it can't be much deeper than that. It's not spongy etc. Any ideas anyone?

12-23-2004, 02:47 PM
During WWII in USA there was a shortage of material and house drain lines were made of a tar impregnated cardboard. I presume that is the same for Nova Scotia. It's amazing how long it has lasted. I replace a couple of orangeburg lines a year. It crushes and starts closing off.

12-23-2004, 03:20 PM
Way back when, eastern MA (and probably a bunch of other places) used logs with a hole drilled in them for water supply lines in the ground. They only replaced (most of?) them in the last 20 years or so. Lasted nearly a century. They use what they have at the time...