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Question DetailsAsked on 11/17/2014

When i do laundry or flush toilet in basement it backs up in toilet and shower upstairs. Please Help!!!

There is a sump pump in the basement for the sewer. If this is malfunctioning could that be causing the backup? Or is there a clog causing it. I suspect a clog somewhere in the system because the shower and the toilet that it is backing up in both drain very very slowly. I plunged the toilet yesterday and got the toilet and shower draining again, but when I ran the dishwasher last night, it overflowed into the shower and toilet again and now it is stopped up again.

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4 Answers


I think you need your sewage lines need to be snaked out (cleaned) to the street a plumber charges about 500.00. I went through a similar problem with the home I purchased last summer. I shoveled xxxx and sewage for two weeks until I admitted I needed professional help and requested it. Problem solved in four hours by the professionals. When they do come make them snake every drain in your building, I had to pay twice because they only cleaned one pipe the first time and I had to call them back to clean the second one. Cornerstone plumbing can take credit for eventually correcting the problem satisfactorialy. I also snaked out the toilet eliminating the back ups which you can do yourself, check out the video on you-tube, search under" how to use a snake". Hope this helps.

Source: Personal Experience

Answered 5 years ago by Saturn617


If the sewage lift pump (which may have a sealed tank or "sump" for the pump to pump out from but is different than a "sump pump", which handles groundwater seepage under the basement slab or through the walls) is malfunctioning it can definitely cause a backup, because when the pump is non-functioning the sewage can flow out through a backflow valve (in most models) but has to build up a "head" or liquid elevation to do that before flow rate becomes substantial, so commonly backs up to the lowest drain in the house when any significant amount of water is put in the system. A pipe clog can also cause it, as can a general restriction of pipe diameter due to buildup or a offset/ cracked/ collapsing sewer pipe.

If the backup is coming up into the lowest elevation drains in the house (counting sink, toilet, shower/tub, laundry drains, and floor drains but NOT "clean water" groundwater drainage sump), then your problem is downflow of the last drain in line that is overflowing - could be at the pump, could be a sticking backflow checkvalve at the pump or at/near the foundation wall, or from a blockage of whatever type in the pipes. If there is a drain DOWNFLOW of the ones backing up that is NOT overflowing (and is connected to the sewer), then your blockage is just in the pipes between the overflowing location and that non-overflowing drain and cheaper to solve.

The slow backup is because some outflow is occurring, just not quite as fast as it comes in when there is a substantial amount of inflow - so probably handles basins OK, maybe shower, toilet and dishwasher may be iffy, but a draining tub or washing machine dump (that is usually worst) has enough water that it will cause a full backup from the blockage or valve to fillthe pipes back to the lowest elevation drain "upflow" of the blockage.

You need a Sewer and Drain cleaning professional - first to verify operation of the lift pump (which may need solids cleaned out of its sump, need a switch adjustment or cleaning, or have a pump problem), then if that is not the problem to clear the sewer line. If it has not been full-diameter routed out all the way to the street in the past 10-15 years, I would recommend doing that too - probably about $100-200 more (depending mostly on length of run and access ease) than the $100-150 range typically to just clearing a one-place blockage when done at same time, but is needed periodically to remove the soap scum/tissue/grease buildup that reduces the diameter of the pipe and causes partial blockages like yours. Either way, whether you go to the street or only through whatever blockage you have now (which sometimes will then migrate toward the street and plug up again in a day or three if not chased all the way to the street), you should have it cleaned with a full-diameter scraper blade that scrapes the inside perimeter of the pipe clean, not just a "snake" which just punches a hole through the clog but commonly leaves a substantial part of it in place to start blocking off again.

I generally recommend cutting a deal with the contractor to bring his color sewer camera at no charge if it is not needed (most companies only have one so need advance notice to bring it), so if he encounters a "hard blockage" when clearing the pipe - root mass or thick root, broken pipe, rocks falling in from a pipe break, offset pipe joint) he can then run the camera to identify the exact problem AND locate and mark its location on the surface within a foot or few while he is there - typically $100-150 additional for that service if done at same time, versus maybe $250-300 range to come back another time and do it. Remember, in most cases access will be by removing a toilet from its base, which typically runs about $80-125, so every time he has to come back you incur that cost again, so having him do the full-blown scraping to the street and,if problems are encountered a camera run also, can save you a fair amount in the long run over trying to snkae the blockage and then finding you need a camera run or that it plugged off downflow a bit and backs up again in a few days as the clog catches more solids.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


I was looking for this link but did not find it when I did my first response to you, so I reconstructed it in my reply - but you might glance over this one (link following) in case I missed some point in my first response. You DEFINITELY wantto get this taken care of ASAP, because sometimes minor backup can take weeks or months to transition to essentially a total blockage - at other times just one more toilet flush to pack it tight. And I would advise against dishwasher use if it backs it up, and definitely no clothes washer - because that puts out many times as much water, and will almost certainly deluge you with about 10-20 gallons of backup.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


I was looking at this question today as a possible reference for another question, and while I hope your problem has been fully solved by now:

If not, I must have been half asleep when I first answered your question, because the UPSTAIRS overflowing during DOWNSTAIRS water usage gives it away - clearly the lift pump in the basement was working because it was pumping the water up to the upstairs where it then overflowed, plus if it was not working then the downstairs would be flooding shortly. Because it is causing overflowing upstairs, the partial blockage in the pipes had to be downstream of where the downstairs pipe connects to the upstairs drain pipe - somewhere between there and the street. The closer to the street the partial blockage, the less overflow you would get upstairs because the pipe from the house to the street would hold some of the liquid before it backed up to the house and started overflowing. A blockage close to the intersection of the upstairs and downstairs pipes would cause significant overflow volume in the upstairs drains.

Hopefully you got this resolved in a timely manner when you first posted the question months ago.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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