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  #1  
Old 05-30-2011, 04:21 PM
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Default can the city shut off your sewer service?

So last night I was taking a shower and my toilet started making a bubbling noise. I poked my head out to see, and when I looked back in the shower, turds were gurgling up through the drain. I promptly got out and shut off the shower. the bathtub was backed up, about 3" of water standing in it, not going down at all, as if completely blocked. when the washing machine on the other side of the house went into rinse/spin cycle, suds bubbled up into the shower. I checked my bathroom on the other side of the house, same story. it was as if the main drain of my house had been 100% blocked. I could not reach a plumber so I went to sleep. about 30 min later I was awakened by a loud sucking sound and went to check it out; as fast as the blockage had occurred, it went away and all my backed up toilets and showers went dry. It was as if the city had disconnected my sewer service and then restored it. anybody else experienced this before?

Last edited by strantor; 05-30-2011 at 04:44 PM.
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Old 05-30-2011, 04:24 PM
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In Florida, it's called a collapsed pipe. About 50 years ago they used tar paper to make sewer pipes...Maybe the name of it was Orangeburg.

You're going to need a plumber or a shovel if the pipe collapsed. For now, pray that somebody flushed a diaper and it cleared up by itself.
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Old 05-30-2011, 04:43 PM
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wow, tar paper, really? seems a bit insufficient. My neighborhood went up in the late '70s in houston TX; I wonder if I've got tar paper pipes.
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Old 05-30-2011, 05:59 PM
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In many towns we don't have a sewer system. Each house or building has a burried tank that collects all of the used/flushed water. A special tanker truck comes, usually once a month, and empties your trunk, not for free, of course.

You can tell when your neighbour empties his tank just by breathing - Refreshing.
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Old 05-30-2011, 06:02 PM
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You have a blockage. Our house had the same exact problem a couple of years ago. Main line blockage was cleared by the plumbers.

Cast iron, or ceramic clay pipes were in use in the 70's. We had the cast iron. Houses built in Houston in that period will all be the same due to code requirements
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Old 05-30-2011, 06:44 PM
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I'm betting on Kermit. Local building codes and when the house was built are the key to this.

The tar paper pipes were outlawed a long time ago, but not long enough to save me from digging the trench. Lucky you, a blockage is much easier to fix than rotten tar paper pipes. I hope your luck holds and it's a diaper, not tree roots.
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Old 05-30-2011, 08:29 PM
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If it is a blockage, sometimes you can fix it yourself. I had our kitchen sink back up on us, but the other pipes in the house continued to work. I went to the local rental place and rented a powered snake. I got pretty lucky because I rented the short one (50 feet if IIRC) and took out the plumbing under the sink to get access, then ran the snake into the hole. I found and fixed the blockage when there was just 1 or 2 feet left in the line. The snake was powered by an electric drill and it quickly cleared the blockage. That's the only blocked line we've had in about 25 years in this house, knock on wood.

Later on, I measured under the house and figured out exactly where the blockage was because I had measured the distance on the snake.

You can probably read up a bit on the web about the technique first, but it's not terribly hard to do. I sure hope it's not a bad pipe, as plumbers and digging to replace things runs into the $1000's of dollars automatically.
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Old 05-30-2011, 08:53 PM
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My neighbor paid $3400 to have her pipe replaced about 6 months ago, and it was only 25 feet!

I did mine, myself. About $300 (including $50 for a helper). Mine was more like 50 feet. I used Schedule 40 PVC. No more collapsed tar paper and no chance of tree roots sneaking into that kind of glue connection. No worries, mate!
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Old 05-30-2011, 09:23 PM
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If the blockage is located AFTER the in-yard cleanout, it is the citys responsibility. If it is on the house side, it is yours.

Proof is usually done by getting(renting) a pipe cam.

Sunbelt rents them. It shows the length of camera snake wire that has run, until it hits the clog.

For my home, it was 38 feet. That was 8 feet past the clean out. Free repair.

A neighbor two doors down did NOT heed my advice and had the SAME problem. $3800

Here is what you want to rent:
http://www.abceqrental.com/products....cts&cat=77,152

SunbeltRental.com website is down until tomorrow, but I rented mine through them for $60 for a halfday rental.

Check home depot, etc. for other companies that rent them.

It is SUPER easy to do, you can often stick them right into the toilet.

If you have a more rigid one, you may have to pull the toilet.. simple task.

Shut off tank supply, flush toilet. Remove 2 bolts that mount toilet to floor (flange actually)
Pull straight up and set somewhere.

Shove scope in hole, watch monitor, dodge turds like a video game

Remember to RECORD this.

Most cams have a standard VHS VCR built into the monitor.(included in rental)

While your at it, buy a new wax ring from home depot.

Set the wax ring over the old wax ring, slide the toilet back over the two bolts, and sit on the toilet. Get up and put the nuts on the bolts and tighten a littler more than hand tight.

If it is other peoples poop floating up, you may have a main clogged.

Ask your neighbors if they have noticed any plumbing oddities. (Nicer than asking if they shower with turds )
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Old 05-31-2011, 04:36 AM
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Thanks a bunch for all the tips. I was slow to respond because I didn't get any email alerts that I had replies. I will get the pipe cam if the blockage occurs again, and if needed, move on to the digging and replacing.
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