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Thread: Clogged drain (video) Tree root?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member myuserid519's Avatar
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    Default Clogged drain (video) Tree root?

    Hi folks,

    I've got a problem that might end up being costly, so I'd greatly appreciate any advice.

    We recently bought a 50 year old house (plumbers tell me it's got 4” clay pipe). Last week the sewer backed up in the laundry room. We called a plumber and he ran a 1/2 snake through with an approximately 1” triangular head. Watching the clean out, the snake pushed out some grey sludge. He went back and forth a few times, and some thick grey greasy sludge went through. I asked him about roots, and he said he didn't think there were any, as the snake went through cleanly.

    A couple of days later, another small backup. Made arrangements for another plumber and a camera. Plumber put through a big headed snake (looked to me like 2.25 or 2.5 inches in diameter). Went through cleanly, with some grey sludge. Water flowed well again. This plumber said he thought it was “grease”, but we'd throw a camera down and have a look. They couldn't do it that day, so I had to wait until today.

    Before the plumber got here today, I ran a bunch of water through and when there was a big flow I heard some glugging. With all the previous info, it seemed to me that there was a big organic mass in the pipe still, and the snake broke through the bottom. Camera seemed to confirm this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b3iELJ8g0fA



    My main question is: Is what's on the video evidence of tree roots? To my untrained eye it looks like a big organic mass, but I don't really see evidence of tree roots. Is there any chance that it's a long-term buildup of greasy sludge that can be cleaned out?

    Plumber recommended inserting a liner for 3k. Are there other reasonable options? Can I try to snake it some more and add some Bio-clean?

    Thanks for any info.
    Last edited by Terry; 12-08-2011 at 10:09 AM.

  2. #2
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    1. a red clay sewer pipe is 4" i.d.
    2. A 1/2" Snake with a 1" head is COMPLETELY inappropriate and useless
    3. A 2 1/2" snake head is ALSO too small for a 4" pipe. When it contacts an obstruction it will "shift" to wherever the easiest path is and leave the "hard" stuff behind.
    4. A 4" pipe NEEDS a 4" head to COMPLETELY clean the pipe, even if it means digging down to the buried 4" opening on the pipe.
    5. The video is too poor quality for us to tell anything about your sewer, but it should show where the "cleanout" is when the video is viewed for a DVD player.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member myuserid519's Avatar
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    Thanks a lot for the information. I have a shorter, clearer video of another pipe that we videoed that day:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTNzQFBXoBc

    Plumber states that what is seen in the clip is tree roots. To my untrained eye, this doesn't look anything at all like tree roots. This just looks like a pipe that needs to be scoured, jetted or something along those lines. Thoughts on whether these are tree roots?

    Thanks for any info you can provide.

    Last edited by Terry; 12-08-2011 at 10:10 AM.

  4. #4
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    The picture is still too washed out to see definitely, but they are probably tree roots, but whether they are or not the remedy is the same. He just has to "ream" the pipe with the proper sized snake and head.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  5. #5
    ACO Shower Drain Sales johnfrwhipple's Avatar
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    Default Snaking Drain lines and cutting roots.

    HJ I have had really good luck with my 3/4" snake with a root cutter and scrapper. I work it back an forth as I clean and scrap the drain lines.

    Some times we rent the big bad boy - the 1" snake that needs the sections of cable installed 10' at a time - that is a two man job.



    Just snaked this old drain line two weekends ago up in the British Properties (West Vancouver)


    jfrwhipple@gmail.com - www-no-curb.com - 604 506 6792

    Always get construction advice double checked by your local city hall. Flood Test Every Shower - Every Time.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member myuserid519's Avatar
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    Great -- thanks a bunch for the information.

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member ferdinand's Avatar
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    Default Old clay sewer line

    I think your best bet is to dig down and replace that section of pipe that way you know for sure.And another suggestion get your self a sewage backup alarm called Detectit it's inexpensive it will let you know of a sewage backup [Detectitonline.com]. I think putting in a liner is a waste of time.

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