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Question DetailsAsked on 2/20/2016

There is sewage conning up into my two bathtubs

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2 Answers


I know exactly what your problem is because it has happened to me quite a number of times through the years. Your main is clogged and you need a plumber to come with a big electric snake and clear that main pipe. If you continue to use water any way at all such as flushing the toilet., using the sink, dishwasher or washing machine it will only get worse. Right now you are lucky that your toilets haven't overflowed causing flooding all over the floor. If you don't have a contract for your plumbing repairs, be prepared anywhere from $120.00 on up . Hope this helps I had the problem when I lived in new York and now also in Florida. The worse part for me is it always seems to happen on a weekend or on a holiday. Sometimes owning a home can be a real pain in the A--

Answered 3 years ago by eexotic1011


I am assuming your house does not have a sewage lift pump because you are in a low area or your sewer pipes are subject to storm backup - if you do, if it is clogged or failed it could cause this.

Ditto to an overfull septic tank and leach field backing up into the house.

If coming up when you are not using water, then if in condo or apartment building or such call maintenance ASAP, and ask neighbors to not use any water or flush till it is cleared.

If still coming in when you are not using any water and you are on septic, which probably means you are in heavy rainfall or flooding conditions, call plumber ASAP.

If coming in when occupants in building are not using any water and you are on public sewer, then must be backing up from the street sewer so call the sewer company emergency number.

Otherwise, and as a first and most likely cause, as the other comment said you likely have a blockage somewhere downstream of those two tubs in your sewer line - which causes a backup in the line anytime you use water. With small uses like a hand washing or even doing the dishes it might let enough by that it does not back up into drains, but with larger flows like clothes washing and maybe toilet flushing and showering or emptying tub it may be blocked enough to back up, filling the sewer pipe upflow of the blockage and overflowing into the lowest elevation fixture drain or floor drain - evidently the tub in your case - but if you have floor drains anywhere on same or lower level check them too.

While you can call a plumber to come snake it out as suggested, if your main sewer line (to the street or to the septic tank) has not been routed out in the past 10-20 years (with time interval depending on how much hot shower and laundry use there is in the house [more is better] and whether you dump a lot of grease down the drain [bad]), I would recommend a Sewer Cleaning company come out and use a full-diameter scraping router to clean your entire line. Some plumbers also have these larger machines capable of reaching the septic tank or street.

As the other comment said - snaking will open up a clog, sometimes fine but can also do two other things - either just punch a hole through the clog without totally clearing it (especially if caused by tree roots in the line or a pipe offset or break), or knock it loose but then have it clog up again downflow, so you might need a callback for resnaking in short order - sometimes as short as a couple of days.

Following image (which is from a mini machine but look about the same on full size machines) shows the difference between a probe or a snake head (the bullet shaped one at top left and the spiral spring top right) and a full diameter pipe scraper (the open jaw shaped cleaning heads at the bottom - left one for pipe scraping, right one for heavy clog or root cutting). Only the pipe scraper effectively removes the built up soap scum, fiber, and grease buildup that gradually reduces the inside diameter of the pipe, leading to clogs.

In clay drain tile (especially split tile drains) or old ductile or cast iron that is quite deteriorated you generally do not want to use these scrapers because they can damage weak pipe, but otherwise they work very well.

One thing to consider - asking him to bring a sewer camera (preferably color) in case it is needed. Most firms do not have one in each truck so you have to ask in advance, but many will bring it in case without charging you if it is not used. But having it there if he hits obstructions or feels broken pipe, offset pipe joint, or heavy debris in the pipe while cleaning it, he can then immediately after (or if the router will not pass through) run the camera to see what the problem is for maybe $100-150 more than the cleaning, as opposed to also paying for a separate callout if the camera was not brought during the cleaning.

They can also use a high pressure cleaning tool - but they tend to miss a lot in normal use because they can bypass side buildup without removing it, and may not cut through roots and such, so if that is proposed (when you call the vendor) only allow it if it has a camera built into the head, so you can see the pipe as it is retracted after the cleaning run and have him rerun any sections that were missed until they are clean.

Unfortunately, you may be paying a 50-100% premium for weekend callout. One option to cut cost is call a plumber to snake it out so flows adequately for maybe $200-250, then consider a regular hour callback by plumber or calling a sewer cleaning company to do a full diameter scraping job.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD

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