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Question DetailsAsked on 5/5/2015

Water keeps coming back up from kitchen sink and washer when either one is in use.

We have had 3 different companies come and run snakes but found nothing. One suggested we connect new drain pipes and attach these to the main line. This would be our last resort.

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3 Answers


Sounds like there isn't adequate ventilation in the pipes. As an easy test, you could readily (and for low cost) install an air admittance valve under the kitchen sink. It's basically a spring-loaded one-way valve that will allow air into the pipe - on demand - when the system calls for it.

Good luck!

Answered 4 years ago by Jefferson


Assuming this is a new condition - that they worked fine up to now, should not be a plumbing layout or configuration problem:

Would NOT be a vent problem - that causes slow draining or sucking the water out of the traps or toilet bowl, almost never backups unless a VERY unusual situation, and would probably have been happening all along if that was the case.

In your case, evidently you either have a partial blockage (maybe grease or washing machine lint) that is reducing the diameter of the pipe but lets a snake through fine, or they did not clean the sewer far enough to clear it. That is the problem with "snakes" - if you run a camera through afterwards, unless you turn it quite vigorously and long enough at each loaction that you risk damaging the pipe, they just do not clear link-reinforced caked-on soap scum and grease buildups,, and in many cases a camera run will show they only punched a 1 inch or so hole through a blockage, rather than clearing out the whole 3 or 4 inch pipe diameter. Same thing can happen with many jetting systems, especially if they do not run them through quite slowly to give it time to remove the buildup.

My recommendation - get a Sewer Cleaning company to come out, agreeing to bring their sewer camera (color MUCH better than B&W) but at no charge if not needed - most will agree to that, but you have to ask in advance because many companies only have 1 camera so might not be on truck that comes to your place if not asked for in advance. Routing cost typically $150-300 range, depending somewhat on whether there is easy cleanout access or if they have to remove a toilet to get at the line.

Have your drains routed out with full-diameter scraper head on router, not just a cone-point or twisted wire snake, so it clears out the pipe full-diameter and removes the built-up soap scum, fibers, and grease buildup. This should be done all the way to the street every 10-20 years anyway, depending on how much large quantities (good) of hot water (even better) are used and how much grease or greasy food (bad) is put down the drains.

Your partial blockage is DOWNSTREAM of where the kitchen and washer pipes come together or it would not be backing up from one to the other, perhaps at the main drain pipe run or stack or maybe on a common branch if they are close together. IF you have a same or lower elevation drain (sink, tub/shower, floor, etc) between the sink/washer and the street and it/they are NOT backing up, then the blockage is between any same or lower elevation (at the drain opening into sink/tub/shower/floor) drains that are dry and the kitchen sink/washer. IF lower elevation drains are overflowing or the kitchen/washer are the lowest elevation drains in the house, then somewhere between there and the street.

I always recommend any drain stack (as opposed to simple sink/tub drain trap) blockages be chased all the way to the street with the router, because it is quite common to clear a blockage only to have to call them back a couple of hours or days later because the clog just hung up further down the pipe after it was broken up.

Then, if he detects broken or offset pipe, rocks, heavy roots etc in running the router through, you pay the extra $100-250 (depending on numbear of access points that have to be used and length of run) to run the camera to see what the issue is and to measure where it is to locate it for possible tearout/excavation to repair. The better cameras have a radio transmitter on them that allows the operator to locate any damage site within a couple of feet even if deep underground.

Be sure after the drain is cleared that washer and kitchen sink are filled and emptied to assure the problem was solved this time - and I would be asking for my money back from the first three for their failure to solve what is a pretty simple issue. They should not have charged you until they PROVED success by running large volumes of water down the drains. If am guessing they ran 10-20 seconds of water in the sink and maybe a gallon or two from the washer and called it good. The problem with that is two-fold - unless a full sink or washer load the flow rate is low enough that it could go past a partial blockage freely or with little backup, so would not back up into the sink. The other problem, with even an almost total blockage that drains out between water uses, is it commonly takes several gallons of water to fill the pipesfrom the blockage to the point where it backs up at a sink or tub, so just running water for a little while can just fill the sewer pipes, but not all the way back to the drain. In this sort of partial blockage case, commonly the first thing you notice is gurgling in the traps at the lowest level drains (commonly floor drains) when the clothes washer empties (which is usually largest volume high-flow source in the house), then maybe with emptying a full tub, then with toilet flushing, then with showering, lastly with dishwasher or sink use. Usually, before it gets that far it is backing up through the lowest elevation drain when clothes washer or full tub is emptying.

Here is another prior similar question which probably says much the same things, discusssing more the lowerst elevation/floor drain backup condition.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


Do you mean Washing maching or Dish Washer? Assuming you meant Dishwasher, If the dishwasher drain is connected to the garbage disposer as some are, you might simply have a blockage in the garbage disposal. Solution: Clean or replace the garbage disposal.

Answered 4 years ago by Homefront Inspection

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