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Tool Talk Discussion Forum

Toilet is a Tool Final Episode

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Author  [Modern View]

09-14-2021 18:41:41

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Well I hope it is the final episode...

Finally made some progress. Come to find out it was a clogged line to the city sewer. Or rather a partially clogged line.

After some careful observations, and awakening some long forgotten memories, I discovered if there was any water visible looking down the clean out, the toilet would not flush. Once the water drained down out of sight, the toilet would flush.

Evidently there needs to be free air flow down stream, or the toilet trap will not siphon!

Going back about 10 years ago, I was having slab settling problems. Hired a local company to dig down and pour concrete jack pads around the perimeter of the slab, raise the slab back up to where it originally was. One of the requirements was that I hire a licensed plumber, $300 (and they just so happened to know one) to leak check the drainage system under the house. There was only a single cleanout port, and there needed to be a back to back cleanout for them to do the test. They could install that for a nominal (astronomical) fee. I declined their insulting offer and put the cleanout in myself.

That's what jogged my memory, that there was not any water standing in the pipe at that time.

So here's what I finally concluded:

There was a build up somewhere near the end of the pipe, possibly where the line connects to the city sewer.

I took a walk up the block and found a man hole cover marked 'sanitary sewer'. It was in the opposite side of the street from where I assumed the line was. Also the neighbor stopped by while I was outside this evening, he said that he watched the city dig that line up once, and yes it is on the far side of the street and also about 10 feet deep.

That means the snake I rented was not long enough to reach the end of my line!

Yesterday I was telling a coworker about my plumbing perils, as he had had problems too. He offered to loan me his pressure washer attachment, a high pressure line cleaner that blasts clean the inside of the pipe.

So I bring it home this evening, pressure washer won't start, cleaned the main jet, got it going.

Started running it down the line. It self feeds the way the water jets out and back. I very slowly fed it in, pulling it back and forth, letting it slowly progress forward. It did feel like it hit some restrictions, but hard to tell, it may have just been the drag of the hose the further it went in.

The hose was supposed to be 150 ft long, plenty to reach the main line, and I pulled it out across the street just to be sure it was long enough. So I feel sure it reached the end of the line this time.

So far all looks well, time will tell!

Thanks everyone for your input!

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09-17-2021 03:56:41

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 Re: Toilet is a Tool Final Episode in reply to Steve@Advance, 09-14-2021 18:41:41  
Thanks for the follow-up. We have a rental property in the fair city of Pontiac that gets a clogged sewer line every few years. Of course, our tenants would NEVER pour grease down the kitchen sink or flush baby wipes down the toilet. A few months ago I got a call from our tenant saying the sewer was backing up into the basement. This was Friday afternoon just before a three-day weekend, of course. I called the power rodding outfit and they said they couldn't get out before Tuesday at the earliest. So I went to HD and rented the biggest auger I thought I could get in and out of the basement by myself, which was a 50 footer. I got things moving, but wasn't optimistic since it's almost 100 feet to the street. Sunday she calls again, so I get my son to help and rented a 100 footer. Got it going with the bigger machine. Just to be safe I called the power rodders out, which was good because the sewer backed up again before they finally came out.

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09-16-2021 01:51:07

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 Re: Toilet is a Tool Final Episode in reply to Steve@Advance, 09-14-2021 18:41:41  
Daughters house had a drain to the street that would plug every 4-6 weeks . While the grade at the house was higher than at the street . There was a slight sloop down just

Outside of the house where the drains grade dropped and then raised 1-2 . Then sloped back down to the street . We dug it up , levelled and also installed a backflow preventer . Glad we did as it prevented backflow from the street into the house . After a series of heavy rain storms . Water was spraying from the manhole covers on the street .

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Stephen Newell

09-15-2021 16:38:48

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 Re: Toilet is a Tool Final Episode in reply to Steve@Advance, 09-14-2021 18:41:41  
My son has a relatively new house and had similar problems. One weekend the cities sewage pump quit working and the sewer just completely filled up and backed up in his line. I took the cap off his clean out to the street and water started coming out. They got the pump fixed but he still has drain problems. May have to show him the link you posted on the pressure washer hose.

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09-15-2021 12:55:35

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 Re: Toilet is a Tool Final Episode in reply to Steve@Advance, 09-14-2021 18:41:41  
Here's a cleaner attachment if anyone is in the need of one.

This one has different attachments, wish I'd had the rotating head!

It works good on sludge, paper, grease, but I doubt it would cut roots.

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K Effective

09-15-2021 12:19:43

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 Re: Toilet is a Tool Final Episode in reply to Steve@Advance, 09-14-2021 18:41:41  
I'm in progress of digging up and replacing the drain tile from the cow barn downspouts to the catch basin, evidently not for the first time, either. I know I repaired the one section a couple of times, but this time I went all the way back to the barn, 250' or so.
I took about a dozen pictures, where it connected, how close to the gate posts, etc. Now, if I can remember to download them from my phone before it gets replaced...

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Doug - Iowa

09-15-2021 10:44:27

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 Re: Toilet is a Tool Final Episode in reply to Steve@Advance, 09-14-2021 18:41:41  
I have a similar problem, our city man thinks the main has a low spot where my lateral ties in under the street. About the time I get one or two council people convinced they need to dig it up and fix it, we have an election and I have start over. I would pay for the digging myself, but the street blacktop repair is big money.

Once or twice a year water backs up in the basement drain a little when we do laundry. I have a power snake that will reach the street, but it is a lot of messy work to use. I found this expanding bladder thing at Harbor Freight. I run it down the clean out on a garden hose maybe couple feet into the lateral, turn the water on and it swells up and water pressure blows whatever is holding up the flow out into the main. Works every time and less than 10 minutes start to finish. Then we good for another year or so.


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09-15-2021 07:33:03

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 Re: Toilet is a Tool Final Episode in reply to Steve@Advance, 09-14-2021 18:41:41  
Now you need to document the problem and the solution so that in another ten years you won't have to recreate the wheel, so to speak. If you can remember where you put the document by then.

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09-15-2021 03:35:35

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 Re: Toilet is a Tool Final Episode in reply to Steve@Advance, 09-14-2021 18:41:41  
I'm glad you got it working right. I had a similar experience with our main sewer drain line three years ago when we moved to town. The house is in Dallas and is fifty years old, so it has cast iron drain pipes. We had it remodeled before we moved in, and we had to call the plumbers(who did the plumbing for the remodel) to come back on a drainage issue after we moved in. They brought a device they had rented at Home Depot that had a reel with a cable and a camera they could run down through the clean-out and view any blockage in a line. The blaster you described sounds like what they recommended, but they said they didn't have one. That sounds like a tool every plumber should have.


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Pete in Holland MI

09-14-2021 21:16:27

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 Re: Toilet is a Tool Final Episode in reply to Steve@Advance, 09-14-2021 18:41:41  
A few years ago, the city needed to verify where our sewer lines were in relation to the street for some up coming construction. They brought a unit into my house and pushed it into one of my clean outs. It was a camera, with lights, and self leveling lense. A second guy followed it on the surface with some form of meter and verified it's path under the grass. In the mean time, I was able to watch the video of the camera going thru my lines all the way up till it merged with the main under the street. Kinda like an endoscope.

If you have troubles again, finding one of these might shed some light on any imperfections in your line.

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09-14-2021 19:29:22

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 Re: Toilet is a Tool Final Episode in reply to Steve@Advance, 09-14-2021 18:41:41  
Steve, I am alsoforgetful. We have lived in this house since July of 1974. WE/I have gutted wired plumbed rewindowed drywalled reroofed you name it I've probably done it. The years take a toll. My problem has always been, I see the problem, create a repair or rework plan, work the plan and then move on. It does not always register in the thinker to remember the solution to the problem. So when a problem like yours comes up...sometimes I have no clue, I know I should know, after all I did the work. But it just did not get into the long term rememberer. Its fun to be me. gobble

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