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Question DetailsAsked on 3/21/2016

The water draining from the sink is filling up my toilet bowl. I used a snake but couldn't fix the clogged toilet.

My toilet on the first floor (lowest level) was clogged. I used the plunger to no avail. I then used the snake and was able to feed it through 15-20 feet with ease. So I thought the potential clog should be much further out in the drain, but I am not so sure. I had to remove the water in the bowl manually. But next morning it is filled up. I then realized when I wash my hands on the sink nearby, the waste water there was visibly filled up the toilet bowl. However when I used the shower or toilet upstairs, it doesn't fill the downstair toilet as fast. I suspect there has to be a clog somewhere but don't know how to fix this. Please help.

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1 Answer


OK - clearly the blockage is downflow of BOTH the sink and the toilet downstairs, for use in one to fill the other, so while the problem might initially have been a toilet clog that is not the problem now. So - downstream of the downstairs bathroom at least.

Now - upstairs use does not fill it AS FAST - but evidently still does to some extent.

So - because downstairs sink fills it fast but upstairs one does not, most likely two things happening - because of a downflow blockage (obviously partial if can still use water) you evidently have a clog, and a pretty complete one, in the pipe leading from the downstairs bathroom - causes downstairs bathroom backup pretty much immediately, and is also blocking some of the backflow from the upstairs - has to be in line leading from downstairs bathroom to main stack, not in the part of the stack from upstairs.

There also has to be a blockage in the line between the upstairs bathroom and the street or septic tank (or overfilled septic tank/failed leach field) or using them would not cause any backup in the downstairs toilet. Evidently only a partial blockage or it would be backing up substantially - or you are not taking long shower so it fills the sewer line from the blockage back to the downstairs toilet but does not fill it up much before you stop.

It IS possible there is no blockage in the downstairs line with some plumbing configurations I can think of, but most likely there is and no harm in assuming that is where to start the routing out.

Either way - you are on the verge and at risk of a total blockage at any time - I would avoid any heavy water use - ESPECIALLY emptying significant amounts of water from tub or full sink or using clothes washer because those have the highest volumes and flow rates and are usually the first uses that cause backups when you have a partial clog.

I would call a Sewer Cleaning contractor - or your favorite plumber IF they have long-reach sewer router (not just a snake) so can rout out your line to the street or septic tank.

I recommend routing over snaking (unless you know you have clay sewer pipe or badly deteriorated iron or steel) because a snake does not clean the accumulated soap scum, fiber and grease off the inside of the sewer line, which progressivly reduces its inside diameter over the years and should be scraped off with a router and scraper blade every 10-20 years or so. Get it done from the downstairs toilet all the way to street/tank because only going to the first point it releases the clog increases the risk of another blockage, because you releasing not only the clog but all that scraped off gung down a line that is still probably reduced diameter, so can end up with another clog in hours or days if you do not chase it all the way to the street.

Pressure jet sewer cleaner second choice and ONLY if it has on-board camera so you can see, on the way back out after cleaning, that there are no skips - all but the best sewer pressure cleaners tend to leave significant skipped areas.

Either way - commonly $150-300 range for complete routing out.

If getting a plumber with router, many will bring their camera at no extra charge if not needed, so it is there in case he detects heavy debris in the pipe, broken or offset pipe, heavy roots, etc when routing (a good operator can give a pretty good idea of the type of blockage if it gives signficant resistance just from the feel of the cable). Camera run typically $100-150 extra IF on same service visit.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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