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Question DetailsAsked on 1/29/2017

What causes total blockage in tub and toilet and what do i do?

My tub and toilet are totally clogged. What can I do?

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2 Answers


If an upper story (not the lowest floor in the house with plumbing), likely a Plumber or Sewer and Drain Cleaning contractor can snake it for around $150, plus or minus about $50 depending on local labor rates. This would be assuming the blockage is in the above-ground pipes.

Or if daring and a DIY'er, get a closet snake (6-25' snake with rubber protector so it does not scratch the toilet bowl) for about $20-40 (or rent one at tool rental place) and snake from the toilet yourself.

If ONLY those two locations (presumably in same bathroom) are blocked, but no blockage or backup from water being (cautiously) used in any locations or other indoor parts of the house like other bathrooms or kitchen, then the blockage would be in the in-house pipes between the tub/toilet (whichever is most downstream) and the other more "downflow" pipes, so usually easily snaked. If in that location, IF the drains are gradually draining down by themselves, pouring bucket fulls of full hot water from the tub with a bit of liquid dish soap may clear it, keeping the toilet full but not above the bottom of the rim. As may (listen to the screams from some plumbers) the gel type Liquid Plumber used per instructions.

If EVERY water use in the house results in blockage or backup in the lowest elevation drains in the house, then your underground pipes are clogged, and unless they have been cleaned out full-diameter in the past 5 years or so, I usually recommend calling a Sewer and Drain Cleaning contractor to jet or rout them out, for commonly about $150-400 depending on extent and reason for clogging, cleanout locations and whether toilet has to be removed to access the pipes, and length of run to street or septic tank.

A full-diameter cleaning to remove the built-up grease and soap scum and fiber which will eventually block them off, and should be scraped or jetted off every 10-20 years typically. (Shorter time in houses using not much hot water or putting a greater amount of garbage disposal debris or grease down the pipes, longer interval for houses with high hot water use (especially washing machines on hot / permanent press cycles or dishwashers on full-hot water supply) and little grease or garbage disposal grindings going down the drain.

So, if have not been scraped clean in last 5 years or so I recommend that be done all the way to the street, otherwise if they have then just snaking or jetting from convenient house or outside cleanout access to clear the clog can do it cheaper. The problem with not chasing it all the way to the street, or running a camera after the cleaning (which commonly costs about as much), is you can break up or dislodge a clog but have it move only partway down the line so it clogs up again soon - sometimes within hours, sometimes days or a few weeks, sometimes never - but without chasing it all the way to the street you do not know that it is truly fully cleared, or that there was only one restriction point, so you risk a second cleaning charge shortly.

Liquid Plumber type products generally have less effect on underground clogs - both because of what is commonly causing the clog (grease/soap buildup, roots, broken pipes, infiltrating soil) and because the clog is less prone to clear out because of the generally rougher pipe surface and the low gradient (slope) on the pipe.

If using jetting (common these days) rather than the full-diameter scraper I prefer for all but quite deteriorated metal or clay tile pipes, I recommend getting a contractor with an on-board camera on the jetter, so as he is pulling it back after the cleaning run you can actually see the skip spots and have them redone at that time. Mechanical scraping with a cable router does not skip much unless it is run down the piep quite fast - jetters commonly miss a lot, and generally have to be guided by camera and "parked" in one place for awhile to cut through any substantial roots - and many will not cut anything larger than rootlings and root hairs at all.

One other occasional cause - which would cause backup when using water from any water source - is if your leach field is backing up or your septic tank is overfilled with solids and floatables. Generally also accompanied by leachate coming out of the ground at the tank or leach field, but not always.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD


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Answered 3 years ago by Member Services

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