Regular Toilet/Shower Drain Clogs

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mercer5089

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I live in a split-level house and have lived here for about 6 years. The bathroom in the basement was redone - likely by a DIY'er - before we bought the house. Periodically, over the last three years the waste vent will clog and backup both the shower and the toilet. I believe it's also backed up the sink, but not enough water has gone down the sink to confirm this.

I have a clean-out in the room next to the bathroom, and water clearly flows through the pipe, which leads me to conclude that (1) it's not a total blockage; and (2) the clog is somewhere near the fixtures.

One day last year, Mr. Rooter came by and spent much of the day snaking and plunging. We never "found" a blockage - no sudden release of water pressure, no TP or hair on the snake barb, etc, but by the end of the day the drain seemed to be freed up. I paid the man, tipped him a beer, and thanked him for his help.

The clog does not happen frequently (3 times in 2.5 years), but when it does, no amount of my amateur plunging, nor any amount of chemical cleaner, will do the trick. We are not the kind of people to flush paper towels, diapers, chicken bones, party balloons, pillows, or cement down our drain. Whatever you imagine belongs in a toilet is all that goes in.

There has always been a slight gurgling in the shower drain when the washing machine drains, and the affected toilet gets a little water movement when the upstairs toilet is flushed. However, aside from this clog issue, I've never had a problem with slow or stopped drains, and the only fixtures affected are in this basement bathroom. This leads me to believe it is not an air venting issue.

My kitchen drains fine and does not contribute to the water backing up in the basement (ran the dishwasher with no negative effect), which leads me to believe it is not an issue with the city sewer or with the main waste drain leading out to the sewer.

Lastly, I cannot be sure if the DIY'er who remodeled did any work to the waste vent pipes. The clean-out in the adjacent room only appears to access the drain for the downstairs bathroom (no obvious rise in water level when other fixtures are draining). The concrete in the rest of the basement does not indicate any obvious work on anything below the surface, which leads me to believe that the pipes under the concrete are the same pipes from when the house was built in 1977.


And so, new friends, I turn to you for any ideas you may have on what might cause this kind of situation. I cannot keep spending hundreds of dollars to watch someone else snake my vents. Any thoughts you may have that could help me troubleshoot this extremely frustrating, time-consuming, and money-consuming problem would be thoroughly appreciated.
 

Geofd

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normally in a basement bathroom there would be a (backwater)valve basically a check valve for your sewer line to prevent main drain/and city sewer from flooding your basement fixtures sounds like there isn't one if the drain guy snaked from your basement fixtures its hard to say how it was piped or vented is it below sewer grade so there is a pump involved
 

mercer5089

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There is a clean out in the adjacent laundry room on the shared wall, and he tried snaking from there as well. The basement floor is about 54" below ground. No sump pump (I don't know that many homes around here have one). There is another clean out pipe just outside the house, as well. I'm confident that the clog is somewhere near the fixtures because the inside clean out is just outside the bathroom wall, maybe 10-15' of pipe from the fixtures, and that pipe is not full of water.

The shower that was installed is a center drain and was installed on a 12" platform. It replaced a left drain bathtub. I haven't pulled anything apart to look (he used FRP, which I don't want to pull down unless I have to), but I strongly suspect that the platform was built so that the center drain could be piped to the existing waste drain vent. I don't know if this is creating a localized air venting issue, or if it's completely irrelevant to the situation.
 

Geofd

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There is a clean out in the adjacent laundry room on the shared wall, and he tried snaking from there as well. The basement floor is about 54" below ground. No sump pump (I don't know that many homes around here have one). There is another clean out pipe just outside the house, as well. I'm confident that the clog is somewhere near the fixtures because the inside clean out is just outside the bathroom wall, maybe 10-15' of pipe from the fixtures, and that pipe is not full of water.

The shower that was installed is a center drain and was installed on a 12" platform. It replaced a left drain bathtub. I haven't pulled anything apart to look (he used FRP, which I don't want to pull down unless I have to), but I strongly suspect that the platform was built so that the center drain could be piped to the existing waste drain vent. I don't know if this is creating a localized air venting issue, or if it's completely irrelevant to the situation.
try snaking from outside to inside you can rent a snake from most hd or lowes or hardware stores
 

mercer5089

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The most recent plumber sent in a camera. It was toilet paper, which explains why there was no real plug of release and why the water would drain slowly. We've switched from Charmin (the plumber volunteered that Charmin is among the worst papers to use) and hopefully have solved the problem. He also left us with some blue, mouthwash-looking drain liquid that we pour down once a week.
 

frodo

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right here right now, over there later on.
if you had a stoppage
then you have a problem
were you able to see the video?
was there any standing water in the pipe after the plug was removed?
how much water are you using to flush?

crap is removed by gravity . it is washed out with the water the terlet expels
if you do not use enough water, the crap will not get washed away. it will sit in a pile and cayuse a log jam
if you have standing water in your pipe. then you have a belly. and crap will collect in the belly causing a log jam
 

mercer5089

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I saw the stoppage and it was a full blockage by a large wad of toilet paper. The plumber did say that the pipes were dirty on the inside and recommended the cleaner, which he said could help break down the crap inside the pipe. I won't discount your point about a belly, but we did not look after the clog was cleared.

Roto-Rooter once told me that they offer a type of pressure-washing service that would clean the inside of the pipes, but it was quoted at $600, so I'm going to hold off and hope the problem is solved.
 

frodo

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right here right now, over there later on.
any time a plumber cameras your sewer
you need to be there looking or ask for a video of the event
you are paying for a dvd of your sewer.
if his equipment is not capable, call someone else
 

mercer5089

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I do respect your point, but I wasn't home at the time of the service, so I didn't know a video was going to happen. The image was sent to me by someone else who was home. It's a very long story involving Roto-Rooter's national call center and our local service tech having a difference in communication methods.

That said, I now know to ask, and I appreciate you saying so.
 

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