Main Sewer Line Clog

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JD3263

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Hello,

I believe I have a clog in the main line and I'm hoping to get some advice regarding next steps.

Symptoms:

1. Bathroom towards the back of the house - toilet won't flush and water is coming up through the tub drain. Running water in the bathroom sink also causes it to come through the tub overflow drain.

2. Bathroom towards the front right of the house - same as rear bathroom.

3. Master bathroom towards the front left of the house - no issues. This is also the bathroom closest to the septic tank.

Based on this information, it seems the clog is likely in the main line somewhere between the front right bathroom and the point where the master bath pipe connects to the main line. It doesn't seem to be a stoppage in the septic tank since the master bath is functioning. Does this theory seem correct?

If so, what's my best option at this point, other than calling a plumber? I bought this 50 ft snake at Home Depot. Do I pull the toilet in the front right bathroom and start snaking from there? Is the roof vent above that bathroom an option instead of pulling the toilet? Tub overflow?

Thank you!
 

WJcandee

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Your analysis sounds logical.

My own feeling about snaking is this. Generally, the ones that are safe for homeowners to use themselves probably won't do the job, and the ones that will reliably do the job -- as a general rule -- really need to be operated by professionals.

That said, if you want to pull a toilet and try that snake, maybe you will get lucky in piercing the clog. You probably won't be able to really effectively scour the pipe clean, but maybe you can bust the clog enough to get things moving until next time. OTOH, you might spend hours sweating and cursing with nothing to show for it, but if you get lucky, maybe it's worth it.

As a general rule, we on here find that the companies with Rooter in the name will generally try to sell you on unnecessary inspections after which they purport to show you all sorts of horribles in your system that they will be happy to fix for you for the price of your kid's college tuition. Of course, if it wasn't causing a problem before, it probably is worth leaving alone for now, but YMMV.

Better to call a good, reliable, highly-recommended plumber who is a whiz with a snake to really get the problem fixed. Of course, there are, sad to say, disreputable plumbers out there, too, but a guy who you can trust to do a good job at a fair price for other stuff should do the same with drain cleaning.

We used to have a respected member on here who would give good recommendations on this particular subject, all over the country.

For Long Island, NY, he turned me on to Danny at Ranger Sewer, who spent I-don't-know-how-long refusing to let a gravel/mud/god-only-knows-what clog in the outflow of a gravel-driveway drain that had been clogged for years get the best of him. He patiently water-jetted for the better part of an hour. Our driveway filled up into like a small lake of muddy water, until he finally busted through and it was like a giant toilet swirling and flushing for a couple of minutes until everything was normal and quiet. Wow. Then he charged me a price that brought tears to my eyes it was so reasonable for what he had accomplished. (Other trusted contractors had given up and proposed digging up the driveway and laying a new pipe for thousands of dollars.) For smaller jobs that don't need a truck-mounted water jet, there's a company here in NY called $49.99 Sewer and Drain. They have many imitators, but these guys are the real deal. No BS. They come, they snake any drain. They don't charge you if they can't open it. If they can, it's $49.99 per drain. I think the business model is that after they open one, you can suddenly think of a couple of other pesky drains or gutter leaders, etc., that aren't performing like they should, and then the guy snakes them for $49.99 each, too, and then they have a decent ticket for the visit. It's one of those things where, at least in NY, you'd make them for ripoff artists or incompetents, but for some reason they are not. The drains opened by Danny and $49.99 like 5 years ago are still working flawlessly, a testament to the benefits of good-quality work.

If you give us a nearby major city near where you are, maybe our member will weigh in with a recommendation.

Anyway, good luck!
 

JD3263

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So I pulled the toilet and slithered the snake down the line, but I'm not having any luck. I'm hitting a stopping point about 15ish feet in and can't seem to get past it. I'm not sure if it's just a junction point that the snake isn't getting around or if it's the culprit clog.
 

Reach4

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When you run the tub full cold, how many seconds does it take to fill a 5 gallon bucket.
When you run the tub full cold, how long does it take for the tub to back up or for the water to rise to the closet flange (if the toilet is still off)?

That can give some clue as to how far the blockage is.

Is this a manufactured home or a double-wide?
 

JD3263

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It's a single family residence, block walls, concrete slab.

It took about 1 minute 55 seconds to fill the bucket to 2 inches below the lip. There's currently water sitting in the tub that won't drain. The water level in the toilet line is about 6-8 inches from the top of the flange.
 

JD3263

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I just had another go with the snake and I have about 47 feet of it in the drain right now. I could see the water level drop over time but there was still some in there. I dumped the 5 gallon bucket of water down there and it's sitting at about 6 inches from the top of the flange again. The tub also still isn't draining.

Not sure what to make of it now...
 

Reach4

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How much did the 5 gallons of water increase the water level at the flange?
 

JD3263

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After shoving 47 ft into the drain, the water level was barely visible at the 90, if at all.

Then, after dumping all that water in the drain (There is actually about 2 inches left in the bucket), the water level came back up to about 6 inches from the top of the flange.
 

Reach4

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A 3 inch pipe holds about 1.1 gallons of water per ft. Your clog might be about 4 ft away, but have some little holes in it where you poked the little snake through.

I would consider using a large Brasscraft drain bladder down the toilet line. The water could start pushing into the tub, but it might not. I am not a plumber.
 

Terry

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When I have someone clear a main drain, it looks like this.


I have used a machine like this in the 70's but don't own the equipment for my own business. I hire that work out.
 

JD3263

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I was considering renting one of those at Home Depot before I bought the cheap one. They're about $50 to rent.
 

Terry

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The big one is dangerous if you haven't been shown how they should be used. When I was young I didn't pull back on the cable soon enough when it was winding up on a bind and it wrapped me up and broke my wrist watch. My friend at work has this thumb tendon torn. He could pull his thumb back to his wrist. I won't use one again.
 

JD3263

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Well, it's done. I really didn't have much luck with the manual auger. Tried going in a couple more times - once up through the main clean out and once back down the toilet pipe.

I ended up renting one of the electric ones at Home Depot and had it cleared in less than an hour. Much, much easier than the manual one. If I had to do it again, I'd definitely go the rental route and be done with it. It had a nice safety guard on it too, but I still paid close attention the entire time. Also, I had to go all the way in and out twice with the electric one to clear it out. Then I went a third time for good measure.

Thanks for the help! I learned a lot the past couple days between the feedback and a lot of reading.
 
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