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Locating Sewer Line Cleanout

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Jeff Handy

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While you are at it, you should run a snake down that modern clean out, over by your washing machine standpipe.

If sewage has been backing up there, that part of the pipe could have chunks of crud sitting in it.

Maybe snake out the standpipe trap also, fix everything while you are making that big mess down there.

I am guessing that vertical riser clean out is there to rod the part that feeds into the wye, which you could not rod through the brass plug access.
 

alfuzzy

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I have had success helping penetrating oils get into old threads by chucking a big hex bolt or similar, into my small hammer drill. Then using the hammer drill to transmit thousands of little taps onto the area I want the oil to get into.

Also, you could try heating up the threads of the cap with a heat gun or hair dryer.
That might get the oil in there, or might soften up the century old pipe dope on the threads.
Or a torch, just keep it moving, don’t catch the oil on fire or melt the lead.
There might be oakum in the outer joint that could burn also, I think.
Maybe a torch is unsafe, others can weigh in.

Then try turning again after it cools most of the way down.
Thanks for the hints & tips Jeff. And what you said about the filler either possibly being "oakum" or lead.

Hopefully if I find my big pipe wrench...it will do the trick!
 

alfuzzy

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While you are at it, you should run a snake down that modern clean out, over by your washing machine standpipe.

If sewage has been backing up there, that part of the pipe could have chunks of crud sitting in it.
I already did this.:)

Since that modern PVC clean out cap by the washing machine is at the end of the sewer line in the house...I can remove it...shine a strong flashlight in there...and I can see almost all the way to the old brass clean out cap and cast iron pipe that I need to remove to clean the sewer line outside the house to the street.

I snaked all of the pipe inside the house in the basement (everything that can be seen in the photos I posted). All of it is clean as a whistle (or at least as "clean" as a sewer/waste pipe can be)! Ha Ha.
 

alfuzzy

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One turn from the left hand branch into the wye is a 45, not a 90.
Yes that's correct. It's actually one 45° bend...and two 90° bends.:)

My main point was that a snake would need to deal with 3 bends of some sort if I used that vertical access with the cap on it...versus one 90° bend if I used the brass clean-out.

If someone would/could confirm that a power snake would have no issue dealing with one 45° and two 90° bends...then I might try using that vertical access (and not worry about removing the brass clean-out cap).

I just don't want to damage any of the pipes trying to get that brass clean-out off...but will do it if this is really the only way to get it done.

Thanks
 

frodo

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if you replace the 90 outside, then you can snake the sewer from that point and not worry about sewer water on the floor and splatter on the walls inside

it is a bit more work, [shovel, 4' deep] but a better job
 

Jeff Handy

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Before doing “a bit more work” of humping out a four foot deep hole, remember that this is a century old sewer line.

Run a camera through the whole thing, all the way to the street, to see what is going on down there.

The old sewer might have failed at many possible points.

Roots, collapsed joints, broken tiles, etc.

Even right at the foundation, the house might have settled and broken the cast iron, the sewer could easily be open to mud or gravel, and trying to run uphill through the break.

Maybe it is blocked or failing where it is on area of city or county responsibility, if so they will dig it up and repair. And likely would put in a clean out, or you could pay them to add one, as long as they have everything exposed.
 
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frodo

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Before doing “a bit more work” of humping out a four foot deep hole, remember that this is a century old sewer line.

Run a camera through the whole thing, all the way to the street, to see what is going on down there.


The old sewer might have failed at many possible points.

Roots, collapsed joints, broken tiles, etc.

Even right at the foundation, the house might have settled and broken the cast iron, the sewer could easily be open to mud or gravel, and trying to run uphill through the break.

Maybe it is blocked or failing where it is on area of city or county responsibility, if so they will dig it up and repair. And likely would put in a clean out, or you could pay them to add one, as long as they have everything exposed.
Home Run !!!! :D:D:beeroclock:
the crowd is standing and cheering
 

alfuzzy

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if you replace the 90 outside, then you can snake the sewer from that point and not worry about sewer water on the floor and splatter on the walls inside

it is a bit more work, [shovel, 4' deep] but a better job
Very true Frodo...but you probably have way more experience than me or others. And there are some important steps in that project that a 1st timer doesn't exactly know the answer to.

For example knowing exactly how to cut out the old work...and tie in the new work (on both ends).

Also...some folks live in communities where doing this sort of work is not permitted without the proper permits & inspections. And if you're a DIYer...and don't know the local codes...you won't pass the inspections.

Sure...the proper permits can be gotten...research done on what the local codes are (and what's permitted/mandatory)...and then pass the inspections. But just doing all this is a project in itself (before any actual work is done).

And remember...at this point I can't take a shower without flooding my basement. That's why using an existing clean-out is definitely the way to go now.

What you suggested is definitely the best way to do things (if project time was no concern).

Thanks for the idea/suggestion.:)
 

frodo

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a simple 4 1/2'' grinder with a abrasive blade would cut the pipe
here is the good thing about an outside cleanout
if your sewer backs up, take the cap off and it will run out on the ground instead of the basement

it is going to run out at the lowest point in the system. that would be the clean out
outside the building.

call your local building department, ask for the plumbing permit office
ask the plumbing inspector if he will allow a home owner in his jurisdiction to pull his own permit
and reference........................
code_permit.png
 

alfuzzy

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A small update. I did some exploring/digging outside this morning...just to make sure there wasn't an outside clean-out already in place (but maybe buried under some grass/dirt/mulch).

Didn't find a clean out...but did find that where the sewer line comes out of the foundation...previous plumber's laid a bunch of small to medium sized rocks to fill things in around the area...they laid some large flat rocks on top/above the pipe...and I found a bunch of old ceramic pipe debris/shards where I dug.

I didn't dig things out enough to actually see the sewer pipe. I figured that if I'm not seeing a clean-out with the digging I've already done...that any further digging could possibly disrupt a fragile situation (if the pipe is super old & not in great shape).

Doing a pipe inspection with a camera like Jeff said would be a good thing to do (in case something has broken)...but the power snake costs a good bit less to rent than the camera...so I figure I'll do the power snake first (hopefully with good results).





 

frodo

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a lot of plumbers will dig up the old pipe. knock a hole in it
then run the sewer machine.
after, they ask the home owner if they will pay for a clean out to be installed.
when the home owner says no. they cover the hole with any damn thing laying around
old license plate is my go to item
put the dirt back and go home.
remove the rocks. you might find a pipe with a hole in it
or maybe not.
 

alfuzzy

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a simple 4 1/2'' grinder with a abrasive blade would cut the pipe
here is the good thing about an outside cleanout
if your sewer backs up, take the cap off and it will run out on the ground instead of the basement

it is going to run out at the lowest point in the system. that would be the clean out
outside the building.
Great info...thanks a bunch. Installing a clean-out on the outside definitely a project to consider in the near future.

Right now timing is tight & just need to get things working. If running a power snake thru the pipe will get things working...great.

Hopefully no surprises in there...like a collapsed pipe.

Thanks
 

alfuzzy

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a lot of plumbers will dig up the old pipe. knock a hole in it
then run the sewer machine.
after, they ask the home owner if they will pay for a clean out to be installed.
when the home owner says no. they cover the hole with any damn thing laying around
old license plate is my go to item
put the dirt back and go home.
remove the rocks. you might find a pipe with a hole in it
or maybe not.
Thanks again sir. Really appreciate the info & tips.

I know installing a outside clean-out is the best thing to do for the long haul (it's certainly a project I can handle). I'm not afraid to get dirty, get sweaty, or doing the physical work. But if snaking the pipe via the inside brass clean-out on the inside will get things working again...this is something that's going to take a lot less time...and hopefully be the cure.:)
 

alfuzzy

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a lot of plumbers will dig up the old pipe. knock a hole in it
then run the sewer machine.
after, they ask the home owner if they will pay for a clean out to be installed.
when the home owner says no. they cover the hole with any damn thing laying around
old license plate is my go to item
put the dirt back and go home.
By the way...maybe you saw in some of my posts earlier in the thread...I seem to have two possibilities for doing the snaking in the basement:

1. The more direct route via the brass clean-out plug (one 90° elbow).
2. The short vertical piece of pipe with a cap on it. This is the option where there are 4 bends in the pipe (90°, 45°, 45°, and 90°) that the power snake would need to deal with.

* Option #1 has less pipe bends...but I'm having some trouble removing the brass clean-out plug.
* Option #2 is easier for me...but didn't know if this option would be difficult for the power snake (4 pipe bends).

Thanks

 

frodo

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man,
take a hammer, hit that brass plug right in the middle.. bust the hell out of it
then take your dermal with an abrasive blade and cut the rest of the threaded c.o plug out.
replace it with a pvc threaded plug.
easy...you are way over thinking this stuff

you are going to play hell getting that snake around three 90 degree turns
 

Diehard

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Well you found an excellent example as to how NOT to back fill around a buried pipe line.

Secondly, as you already suspected based on some of your previous comments and concerns, DON'T get too carried away with smashing that cleanout plug. I think frodo may be getting a bit theatrical.
You may be alright with smashing it but who knows how that may affect the integrity of that leaded joint, etc.
To be safe, you could very easily drill (or chisel) a series of holes around that nut to allow you to remove it with less force. Then cut towards the threads in a couple of places to allow you to collapse edges to allow you to crush the perimeter of that thread quite easily.
Sort of like this video's approach on a similar(but different) application. You can skip to around 5:30 in the video.

 
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