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Question DetailsAsked on 2/21/2018

Put cap on outside sewer pipe and had water in basement immediately? Never had issues when cap was off?

Bought a new house & noticed outside sewer pipe did not have a cap. As soon as the plumber put a cap on it we had water pouring in the basement ceiling, up from the 1st bathroom tub. As soon as we took the cap off everything went back to normal. Never had any issues when we moved in with water. Is it related to pressure?

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1 Answer


Here is a somewhat related question which might be of interest:

So this was caused just by putting a cap on the pipe - presumably on an open leg of a wye or tee at a cleanout point ? Assuming you did not previously have raw sewage coming out at that point, this is a puzzler - because it backed the sewage up presumably several feet in height to come out the tub.

Normally, this could only happen if there was a pretty complete but not total blockage in the sewer pipe somewhere downstream of that cap, and as the water ran into the sewer line toward the blockage, the sewer gases/air in the sewer pipe was coming out the open cleanout as it was displaced by the liquid. Close that air exit off and that air had nowhere to go fast (presuming the blockage downstream was pretty complete or had water backed up upstream of it to keep the air from going through) so it pressurized up and kept the flushed water from going down into the pipe to slowly drain through the blockage like it usually did - so it backed up and came out at the lowest elevation drain in the house instead - which apparently is the first floor tub.

I would say time to rout out the sewer line - I prefer (except with known deteriorated pipe or clay tile or asbestos/asphalt pipe like Orangeburg where the scraping router tool can cause damage) using a full-diameter mechanical scraping cleaning to remove the built up fiber and soap scum and grease every 10-20 years, otherwise jetting. Jetting tends to skip and miss and not do a good job on roots, so if jetting I require it have an on-board camera so as you pull back after the cleaning pass you can see if it got everything, and rejet any skipped parts.

Cost for jetting/routing commonly about $150-250 depending on length to street or septic tank, add camera run to check out any issues detected in the cleaning another $100-150 commonly IF done at same visit. Most sewer cleaning companies will agree to bring the camera and not charge you if it is not used. Be sure to advise you want it brought when you make the service call, because many companies do not have one for each truck - just one or two for the company.

Of course, if you meant this is a brand new house then the builder should presumably fix it (and pay for the cleanup of the spillage) if under warranty. If not, usually your homeowner's insurance will pay (after deductible) and can also help (with many companies) in getting a Water and Smoke Damage contractor on board for the cleanup and replacement of flooring and such as appropriate.

One other possibility I have seen on a couple of local houses but probably not your case since you have been using it without trouble for awhile - if you JUST moved in, sometimes sewer lines in houses which have sat vacant for awhile will freeze up because they have a low point or backup into the pipe from the street sewer which freezes late in the winteror in the spring as the frost penetrates to its maximum depth. Might be fine in normal use because the warm water going through the pipe keeps the ground around the pipe above freezing in normal use, or enough heat is passing through the pipe to keep any freezing thawed out.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD

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