Fun with plumbing! Now with added sewage!

“Try to finish up in the shower - the basement is full of water again,” is something that no one wants to hear while rinsing their hair.

On the other hand, it meant my husband found the source of the mysterious odor.
“It smells like it’s coming from the back door. It smells like a dead animal.”
“Are you sure it isn’t coming up from the basement? I’m going to grab a shower.”

For the second time since we moved in in June, the sewage backed up into the basement of our antique house. The previous owner warned us he had some problems a few years ago with roots in the pipes, but he removed the bushes that were supposedly causing the trouble and hadn’t had any difficulties since.

The last time the sewage backed up, we called Mr. Rooter, who couldn’t make it out to the house until after 5:00 but no matter. He managed to unstick whatever was stuck and suggested we put root killer down the pipes once a month. (which we didn’t - oops)

This time the original Mr. Rooter was all backed up (Har!) so another Mr. Rooter was procured. Let’s call him Rooter2.

I arrived home from taking my daughter to preschool to find Rooter2 standing in my garage with an eager expression on his face.
“You’ve got a clog!”
No kidding.
“Yes. . . ?”
“Well, the house is 200yrs old so there’s no telling what’s going on in there! We’re going to snake it out and run the camera down there and have a look and maybe we’ll have to use the Hydroblaster* to bust it out!”

He gave me the creeps (was it the dollar signs in his eyes?), so I didn’t stick around to point out to him that I was well aware that ponds of sewage do not normally belong in one’s basement, and that they generally indicate a clog in the works. I also didn’t point out that while the house itself was built in 1810, that doesn’t mean that the indoor plumbing was installed at that time**. He wandered off muttering excitedly to himself.
Fortunately the transmission blew on his robosnake and they send Rooter3. Rooter3 told us the clog was due to our exterior clean out trap being at an improper angle. The clog had nothing to do with roots, and is likely to reoccur. For the low low price of $3000 he could dig it up, replace it, and run the Hydroblaster through the remaing pipes which he showed us on camera.
“See those roots there? They’re definitely going to cause problems. Sure they’re not what’s causing your problem now, but they will. I guarantee it.”

I’m running away. Anyone want to come with?

*I don’t remember what the actual name of the dooflickey is that they want to send down our sewage line, but it blasts high pressure water around and is supposed to cut up all those roots. It’s expensive. Rooter2 and Rooter3 seemed to get very excited by the thought of maybe needing to use it.

**I actually have a really good estimate of when the current sewage line was installed. The surrounding neighborhood was built in the mid to late 50’s. Initially the whole street’s sewage ran back to a trench and was carried to an open air sump pond. Yum! Later they connected it to municipal sewage. The pond is still there. It is called “Hidden Pond.”

Get some recommendations from someone else and try another plumber. Unless they have to dig directly under your basement, it should not cost that much to replace a trap. It cost me 7K to have them dig up the whole line and replace it, and tha included some street repair they had to do.

The tree roots won’t be a problem if you put the root killer down there several times a year.

Oh, I should clarify. In no way shape or form will I have these Hydroblaster-happy m’aam-you’re-plumbing-is-200-yrs-old yahoos replace our trap. We just had to have the one replaced at our last house to pass the municipal dye test. It was 10ft down, and they had to use a backhoe to dig it up, and the whole shebang was still only $1600. This one is only about 4ft down - we can do our own digging and have our regular plumber do the trap (as required by our municipality).

And thanks for the vote on the root kill. I didn’t think they looked that bad, and am glad to know that other people have luck with it.

Yup, we have this problem if we forget the root killer. Our line is probably 70 years old and runs between big trees, so it’s just a nasty fact of life. I’m happy as long as we can stave off replacing it - the current line runs under the neighbor’s back deck and the alternate run would be down the middle of our driveway. :eek:

FWIW, the last plumber said rock salt would work as well as root killer if you put it down weekly in the growing season and monthly the rest of the year. Much cheaper if you don’t mind the hassle.

Good luck with the plumbers!

I had one of those guys try to sell me a new line, he called it a mudout, and explained it was a section where the pipe has collapsed and the ground was getting in, it would cost about (IIRC) $3k to fix/replace that pipe. I told him just to snake out the clog and if it reoccurs I’ll deal with it then. Well years later it did reoccur but like the first time it was just a root.

You have my sympathy. My brother and his wife wound up having a very expensive week, last week. Problems with their septic tank were one of them. (Short notice plane tickets were another, and I can’t recall the third.)

We went through the root/pipe thing in July. $4000 fixed that pesky problem. I miss the $750 (3 visits at $250 a shot when we thought is was a clog) or so we’ve spent over the months to get the problem diagnosed, too.