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Thread: Need Help Identifying How To Clear A Section Of 4" Sewer Line In My Basement

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member coollx's Avatar
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    Default Need Help Identifying How To Clear A Section Of 4" Sewer Line In My Basement

    I have a open 4" cast iron floor drain in my basement that a sink 5 feet away empties into through the floor. The floor drain then runs to a stack with a clean-out about 12 feet away that heads out under the floor to the septic system.

    My problem is that the discharge from my water softner when it recycles runs into the sink and the floor drain overflows on the concrete floor. Since there is always about 8-10 inches of standing water in the floor drain and no sewer odor, I assume there's a trap of some sort under the floor at the floor drain. Btw, the drain does not overflow when I just run the water into the sink...only when a large continuous volume is dumped into the sink.

    I'm fairly confident that the overflow is caused by a build up in the pipe running from the floor drain to the stack and I need to have it cleaned to restore proper flow. Everything from the stack to the septic tank drains and flows fine.

    I have a few questions that hopefully someone on this forum can answer for me.

    1. Assuming there's a trap at the drain under the concrete floor can some type of powered snake or drain cleaner be navigated through it and the line to the stack to clean it out?

    2. If not, can some type of powered snake or drain cleaner be fed through the clean-out in the stack directed back toward the floor drain instead?

    3. Is there another way to clean this line from the drain to the stack area?


    I will probably hire a plumber to do the cleaning, unless someone identifies a fairly easy DIY'er method that I can perform, but would like to know in advance the best way as well as possible ways to clean it out.

    Thank you for your help.

  2. #2

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    When you look down into your floor drain, the bottom of the drain is the bottom of the trap, it does sound like you have some kind of restriction/partial stoppage. Opening the drain all the way with a mechanical snake is the way to go and it can be done from the floor drain/trap.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member coollx's Avatar
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    Cookie, I'd like to clarify how my drain and trap is shaped to make sure I understand it.

    I used my shop vac and vacuumed all the water out of the open drain in order to take a better look at it.

    Here's what I found:

    * Assuming the inlet to the drain is facing south and the outlet toward the stack is facing north

    - The sink drain that runs under the floor looks to be about a 1 1/2" or 2" pipe and comes in on the south side of the drain and is about 8" from the bottom. The bottom of this pipe is about level with the top of the static water level in the drain
    - The outlet of the drain is a larger pipe and faces north and flows in the direction of the stack with the clean-out and is about 4" to 6" or so from the bottom. The inlet and outlet are both at 90 degrees to the open drain

    Based on the above description I have a few questions:

    1. Does the relationship of the inlet and outlet in the drain actually form the trap so the standing water acts as a seal?

    2. Can I assume the north facing outlet in the drain is a straight shot to the stack area? Or are there additional curves or turns along the route to the stack area?

    3. Will a mechanical snake have any problem making the 90 degree turn down the drain to the outlet in order to clean that line?

    Thank you

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by coollx View Post
    Cookie, I'd like to clarify how my drain and trap is shaped to make sure I understand it.

    I used my shop vac and vacuumed all the water out of the open drain in order to take a better look at it.

    Here's what I found:

    * Assuming the inlet to the drain is facing south and the outlet toward the stack is facing north

    - The sink drain that runs under the floor looks to be about a 1 1/2" or 2" pipe and comes in on the south side of the drain and is about 8" from the bottom. The bottom of this pipe is about level with the top of the static water level in the drain
    - The outlet of the drain is a larger pipe and faces north and flows in the direction of the stack with the clean-out and is about 4" to 6" or so from the bottom. The inlet and outlet are both at 90 degrees to the open drain

    Based on the above description I have a few questions:

    1. Does the relationship of the inlet and outlet in the drain actually form the trap so the standing water acts as a seal?

    2. Can I assume the north facing outlet in the drain is a straight shot to the stack area? Or are there additional curves or turns along the route to the stack area?

    3. Will a mechanical snake have any problem making the 90 degree turn down the drain to the outlet in order to clean that line?

    Thank you

    You're welcome. I was going to answer the rest but, maybe, someone else will answer for you.

  5. #5

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    Answer to question one is: Yes.
    Answer to question two is: Yes, you can assume it, but, you know what assuming does, while likely it is, without xray vision & seeing how your basement is plumbed then, it is impossible to know for sure.
    Answer to question three: Not if the correct one is used.

    Hope this helps.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member coollx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookie View Post
    Answer to question one is: Yes.
    Answer to question two is: Yes, you can assume it, but, you know what assuming does, while likely it is, without xray vision & seeing how your basement is plumbed then, it is impossible to know for sure.
    Answer to question three: Not if the correct one is used.

    Hope this helps.
    Cookie,

    Thank you for your prompt and detailed response. It is very helpful. Now I just need to decide whether to rent a mechanical snake (have never used one) and try it myself or hire a plumber.

    Coollx

  7. #7

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    Honestly, for what you will pay to rent one, I would hire a plumber, and call it good.

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member coollx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cookie View Post
    Honestly, for what you will pay to rent one, I would hire a plumber, and call it good.
    I think you are right and will plan to call a plumber. Thanks again.

  9. #9

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    I think that is the best thing, they can get stuck, break, and can be a huge problem. Never using one, and the cost is almost the same as a plumber, that would be my route. Over two decades ago at least, when we bought our second house, the day we moved in was total chaos and we were pretty much buried in the basement in crap. I was upstairs putting away the kichen things etc, when my husband called me to come downstairs. By the sound of his voice I could tell it was urgent. So, I went running down the stairs to the basement in non-skid shoes and when I hit the bottom I slid about ten feet in the crap which was pumping out of the floor drain! It was just running over, and when I was able to stop sliding I continued running out through the garage into the yard, where I threw up, I am sure to the delight of our new neighbors.

    I found out he was trying to fix a clog. Boy, did he fix the clog alright, lol. And, to top it off, he poured draino down there.

    While standing outside with my feet covered in poop, I said, to him, " now, can we call a plumber?"

    Well, this story is not ended there, my friend.

    The plumber came and in no time he was showing us what he pulled out of that drain. I never stammered so badly in life, grasping not only for words but for a breath. There next to the drain, lo and behold was a mound of prophylatics to choke a horse. It was huge. The plumbers looked at each other, and looked at my husband and I, obviously, trying to conceal laughing. I said, " Oh, we just moved in, we just moved in, they are not OURS, honest to God, we just moved in, " LOL. I am not so sure he believed us, when he saw our two children, and being they are irish twins didn't help.

    While they used the snow shovel to clean them up, I stood in disbelief, thinking, that it was a doctor, a female doctor we bought this from and she wasn't married! She was getting married to a man in the service who wasn't there most of the time,

    I remember watching the plumbers getting in their truck, and, I said, to my husband, " are they smirking?"

  10. #10
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; There next to the drain, lo and behold was a mound of prophylatics to choke a horse.

    A septic tank pumper friend told me he opened a septic tank to clean it out and found a layer of prophylactics on the top of the water. He showed it to the husband and told him they should not be flushed down the toilet. The husband said he had had a vasectomy many years previously so he did NOT have to use them. I suppose it was a messy divorce.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  11. #11

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    Very funny, Hj, lol.

    I still don't know why to this day, he called me down there, lol. I think about it after all these years when something reminds me of it, and I wonder, why he didn't say, " don't come downstairs!" Instead, he calls me down there, lol. We sat outside on the lawn, and laughed about the mess. Another time, in our first house, he called me this time, UPSTAIRS, to look into an access panel, lol. He saw a rag stuck between two pipes, I said, " don't touch that rag leave it alone" but, he pulled the rag out with a coat hanger and the coat hanger went through the pipe, wickedly, rotted. And, one thing led to another. So, I stuck my head in that access panel, to pull it out soaking wet! lol.

    Again, I said, " can we call a plumber now?"

    I got girlfriends who ask, " how did you get so smart?" Survival... lol.

    When anyone urgently calls me, or tells me to stick my head in anything I first ask, " why?"
    Last edited by Cookie; 09-30-2012 at 08:11 PM.

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