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Thread: Proper way to clean home sewer lines?

  1. #1

    Default Proper way to clean home sewer lines?

    Hello - I have developed a problem with clogged sewer lines recently. So far this year, it has happened three times, and I've had three different plumbers unclog my pipes. Each has done it differently, and each has a different idea of the proper way to clean them. My questions are - what is the proper way to clean the clogged sewer lines, and should I be concerned that this has happened three times this year?

    One plumber went on the roof and ran the cable through a roof vent (not sure of proper terminology - sorry). He never even came into the house to try to troubleshoot anything or at least check to see if the toilet was flushing properly.

    The second plumber ran the cable from the clean out located on the ground in the front yard. He also ran a camera through my line and determined that nothing was out of the ordinary - the pipe was clogged, but otherwise looked fine. He provided great service, but I paid nearly three times as much as I did the first time.

    The third plumber went on the roof and ran cable through all three of my roof vents. He also had me run water from a faucet during this time. The service was good, and the price was fair.

    Each time the lines were cleared, but then clogged again a few months later. (the third time just happened today).

    Any input and and advice?

    (by the way, don't know if this makes a different, but I live in Florida.)

    Thank you,
    Sandy

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    I would not necessarily find fault with what any of the 3 guys did. It sounds like the 3rd guy appropriately upped the ante based on the fact that it was a recurring problem.

    What seems likely now is that it is a bigger problem, either a defect in a pipe joint, roots, etc. The "local" treatments were partially, and temporarily effective. It would seem that at this time, it would be appropriate to have someone do a complete camera inspection of your line, to find out why the prolem is recurring.

  3. #3
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    When the one guy ran the camera, did he indicate what kind of pipe it is? How far did he run it; all the way to the city sewer connection? If the pipe is collapsed or there is a dip in the run, or it runs flat without slope, you'll get an accumulation there. recurring root problems would probably show up when he cleaned the sewer.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  4. #4

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    Thank you for your quick responses - I'll try to answer the questions I know the answers to.

    We have PVC pipes. When he ran the camera through, he saw no roots, and he said the slope was OK. I am not sure how far he ran the camera. He did say there is a Y in the pipes under the hallway, and that if we had the problem again we may want to correct that, but it would involve digging up our floor.

    After talking to my brother, I also discovered another problem that I didn't know was a problem. When the sewer backs up, it backs up in two places - the shower (liquids and solids) and around the toilet (liquid). It doesn't come into the toilet, but around the toilet on the tile floor. Does that mean I need a new seal around the toilet?

    It also seeps into the wood floor in the bedroom. So far I haven't had to replace any wood, because I let a big dehumidifier run for a couple days. I always assumed the water seeped under the tile to the wood somehow, but is there another way it could be getting there? The toilet area is adjacent to the bedroom, and there is a wall between them.

    Thank you again. This like a big mystery to me.

  5. #5
    General Contractor Carpenter toolaholic's Avatar
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    Question

    There's a difference in approaches. An uncaring [ many out there] will clear a blockage only. A good tech. will scour the pipe walls clean. Have it camered,and make sure ,up front ,You will have a tape ,or cd to keep.
    Sounds like tree roots,or pipe problems are snagging T. P. paper. Do not put dental floss down toilet! Builds webs,that block. P S drain cleaning is an art.
    You need to know how a building is plumbed. Too Many outfits put kids in vans!

  6. #6

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    I never thought to ask for a CD or tape of what the camera saw! I'll make sure I ask for one next time.
    We don't put anything abnormal, like dental floss, down the toilet. We don't have kids and we don't throw big Superbowl parties or Thanksgiving dinners.
    That is why this whole thing befuddles me.
    We do use Charmin Ultra toilet paper. Is there a friendlier TP to use?

  7. #7

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    I had similar trouble a year or so ago. I had gotten some Charmin on sale and believe me in the end it was no bargain!!! I was telling a guy at work about it and he said that his wife bought some and they had the clogging problem too. He said the plumber that fixed theirs said to use Scott all the time and he said they had and have never had a problem since. It isnt the softest in the world but it is better than all the clogging and $$$$ spent to get the lines unclogged.
    I either use Scott or Angel soft and I haven't had any more trouble. That Charmin just doesn't dissolve. Put some in a pan or something and see how long it takes it to break down. Swirl it with your hand a few times like it woulld be spinning in the water. Try changing this and I bet your clogs will be over--Been there!!

  8. #8
    General Contractor Carpenter toolaholic's Avatar
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    Yes, wax ring needs replacement. Is it possible ,someone before You did a
    hack remodel job? There could be some improper plumbing done at one time.
    Also is this a basement area?

  9. #9

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    No, the toilet is not in a basement. We live in Florida, and we have a slab on grade foundation.

    Yes, it is very possible that the toilet plumbing is improper. We had the toilets installed several years ago, and the plumber was the worst home improvement professional I've ever had in my home. It was not a good experience, but I had no way to judge whether he did a good plumbing job.

  10. #10
    General Contractor Carpenter toolaholic's Avatar
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    ask neighbors and friends for the name of a good plumber. When a name is
    often repeated ,That's the one. Good luck

  11. #11
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Assuming you are strong enough to lift a toilet, replacing the wax ring isn't a big deal. the biggest problem is that if they didn't use brass or stainless steel bolts and nuts, you may have to cut off the nuts to remove the toilet. What you'll find when you get the toilet off if it has been leaking for awhile might require some repair, though. if the toilet rocks at all, that will eventually cause the wax seal to fail. The toilet must sit solid.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default drain

    A "Y" by itself is nothing that has to be fixed, unless it is installed improperly. Why did he say it should be attended to someday? If the stoppage is outside the house, then the outside cleanout is the only proper way to clear the line. It is easy to tell if the stoppage is outside because if it is the cleanout will be full of water.

  13. #13
    General Contractor Carpenter toolaholic's Avatar
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    Thank's HJ ,I didn't understand the Guy dising the y,either.
    He is not good at comunating ,hope He knows plumbing. My weakness is spelling

  14. #14

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    Thank you for all your feedback! Most of the time, I use Angie's List to find good home service providers. I think I'll print everyone's feedback and discuss it with the plumber I hire!
    Thank you again.
    Sandy

  15. #15

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    I am telling you throw that Charmin away and you will see a big difference..

    I even read after the fact that Consumer Reports tested TP and Charmin was the softest but was the worst to not disentegrate(sp).

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