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Cleaning out sewerline from bathroomto street

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Joined: Feb 11 2008

I was wondering if anyone had any experience with having the bathtub and toilet drainline/sewerline snaked or clean out recently. Our clean-out for the sewerline is on the roof of the house. I had a service come ten years ago and "rooter" the houseline and they went up on the roof with a machine and cleaned the line out by accessing a pipe on our flat roof that was over the bathroom. It worked fine and now ten years later I called the same service and they said they did not go up on roofs anymore to service these. We either had to take the toliet up (we are on slab) or put in a "clean-out" in the front yard on the sewer line by the street. Has anyone has any recent experience with this? There must be a lot of people with roof top "clean-outs" that can't be used anymore. Any info anyone had would be appreciated. Thanks.

Jenny

My e-mail is grenna70@hotmail.com.

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Joined: Dec 8 2006

we had to call the rooter folks a couple months ago, and we don't have a clean-out. and, of course, it was a saturday night. joy!

called the big name rooter company, but they were booked w/ emergencies until sunday morn. called another rooter company who came right out and tried to sell us the brooklyn bridge and everything in between. he didn't want to go onto the roof, said he'd have to pull the toilet for double the cost (and that was just to start the process), then tried to upsell everything else he could think of. oh, i forgot - he first asked to talk to my husband so he could explain things. yep! that went over like a lead balloon.

shoo'd him out and called back the big name rooter company to wait for an 8:00am sunday appt. the guy that showed up was great; hopped up onto the roof without complaint and easily snaked thru the front bathroom vent. then all was right with the world and we were flushing merrily.

every place i've lived needs to get snaked every several years; it's always tree roots. either your tree or your neighbor's tree, the roots search until they find "food". yummy...

still need to get the clean-out installed when the weather improves, but will use our regular plumber for that. the rooter companies can install a clean-out, but it's pricey. actually... it's pricey no matter who does it. a clean-out closer to the house is a little cheaper because the sewer pipe isn't as deep. you should be able to get free quotes from any plumber or rooter company.

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Joined: Feb 11 2008

Thank you so much for your response. What you talked about in the post has been a wonderful help. I had actually talked to big name company today and what you have said is right on the mark. That is a good idea about having the regular plumber do the clean-out. I hadn't thought about that. It realy is worth getting a quote. I didn't even know a regular plumber could put in a clean-out on the sewer line. You have been a great help.Thank you so much.

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Joined: Apr 19 2007

we didn't think we had a clean-out and neither did the rooter company who used the roof vent stack to clear a problem... but sure enough we do (63 claude oakland, methinks)... here's a pix of the neighbor's clean-out which has ruptured/popped and proceeded to spill sewage over the sidewalk and street... will give you an idea of where it is. go look for it -- you might be surprised.

link-1
link-2

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Joined: Feb 12 2008

Jenny,
We are having a similar problem right now. Both are bathrooms (bath and toilet) on the bedroom side of the house are backed up. The plumber who came out today tried to locate the cap for the sewerline outside, but couldn't. He also would not go up on the roof to snake the line over the kitchen sink (which we've had done in the past).
The big mystery is whether we have access to the main sewer line outside the house other than via the roof. We've got the single car garage/carport unit...any ideas about where an outside line would be located?
We ended up having the plumber snake the shower and things seemed fine until bathtime tonight. Now we have a huge problem. We're planning to call a "rooter" who will go up on the roof and who will maybe send a camera down the line to see where the problems are. Good Luck!

D

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

There have been other posts about the sewer cleanouts, so if you search you'll see additional information. Typically there is a cleanout somewhere between your house and the front sidewalk - but the cleanout is frequently covered/buried when people do landscaping. Otherwise you'd likely see a round ~ 8" drain with a (typically Christy concrete) cap on it. Some neighborhoods used to put an "s" on the curb to mark where the sewer drain comes into the street so the city/utilities know where the sewer line is. Depending on your model - if your bathrooms are lined up on the bedroom side of the house - the drain line comes out under the house along a line from those two bathrooms. But if your cleanout is buried, it might not be worthwhile digging around to find it (meaning tearing out your landscaping) since they can get at your drain through other methods (mentioned in the other posts).

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Joined: Feb 11 2008

We called a service that goes up on the roof and they are supposed to come out today. Our neighborhood has the S in the sidewalk. I couldn't see any kind of gasket attached to the sewerline
which comes in from the street. It is pretty simple (50s landscaping, lawn and some little juniper plants!) so I guess if we had to put a clean-out in it wouldn't really disrupt what we have in the
yard! D, I wish you good luck with this. I have had this house 17 years and I only had to have it "snaked" one time. I think that company (which does not go on roofs any more) said there was a six month period that they would come back out and "snake" it again for free.

We do have a very large street tree in front of our house (original to the development) and I did learn over the years that you don't have to have the tree torn up when this happens. If we do have to have a new line put in at some point, we will do it with the tree's care in mind. Yes, it is a pain,
but I guess nothing in this is going to be a simple solution if it gets to that point.

If the drain service companies are going away from roof service in the future, then putting in the sewer line clean out might be a good idea. The comment about having bids from a plumber as well as the drain services was really helpful.

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Joined: Jan 10 2008

When our sewer line backed up, I called one of the big name rooter companies. They asked me on the phone if we had a cleanout and I told them no (this was before we found the cleanout in the fron yard) and so they sent out a crew to go up on the roof. When the guy showed up, he told me the difference between a roof access crew and a non-roof access crew was that the roof crew has two guys in the truck rather than one. It's for safety reasons because they have to keep the snaking equipment on ground. One guy goes on the roof and the other stays on the ground and feeds the snake to the guy on the roof. It costs a little more because you're paying for two guys instead of one.

Good luck!

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Joined: Apr 20 2006

a subject near and dear to my .....heart. I had problems last year, the line was backing up about once a month. We have a cleanout in the front yard about two feet from the house. I would snake the drain and it would last a while, then it would back up again. I finally had to get the line replaced. It was VERY rotten, the cast iron was rusted thru all along the top of the pipe and massive amounts of tree roots were inside. We had a PVC pipe put in and have not had a problem since.

if you are having backup problems (or not) and have a cleanout in the yard, I would recomment getting a backup prevention device which you can install yourself. They are basically a cap that fits on top of the cleanout that has a plastic ball that sits on top of the cleanout opening. If you sewer backs up, it will spill out into your yard rather than in your house. Definitely worth the money. Our toilet flapper got stuck once and the sewer was backed up at the same time, wish we would have had it then.

Also, I have a motorized 50 ft snake for sale! :wink:

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Joined: Mar 30 2003

We have also had plumbers who were unable to find the cleanout for our house. One did run a snake through the roof vent and another removed a toilet and snaked from there.

My husband found the access to the cleanout a couple of months ago when we had a flood in the laundry area. Our home is a Claude Oakland model with the hobby room/laundry room next to the living room. The cleanout access point is located on the wall behind the washing machine inside the house. There is a heavy metal cap that had to be unscrewed and then we had access to the 4" pipeline. We were able to snake it ourselves and plan to do that as regular maintenance since this is not the first time we've had plumbing issues.

Tracy
Castro Valley

Here's a link to a floorplan similar to ours. http://www.eichlersocal.com/floorplans/Plan_MC-274.htm

Tracy
Castro Valley

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Joined: Feb 11 2008

We have had good luck so far with everything working in the bathroom and tub. We had the service
come out and they went up on the roof and snaked the drain line. So far I haven't been able to find a clean out on our line. It has been interesting seeing where other people have found their clean outs. Everyone on this forum has been really helpful and I am so glad to have seen so many experiences that people have had. I hope no one has any more troubles with this, but as always with home maintenance you wind up being a lot wiser after experiences!

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

There are usually MULTIPLE cleanouts in/around your house. I referred in my earlier post to the exterior cleanout in between one's house and the sidewalk because that is the one they'd probably ideally snake if your sewer line is backed up beyond your toilets (except that landscapers often bury them!). Most houses also have interior cleanouts by the laundry drain and also by the kitchen drain.

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Joined: Mar 16 2005

mmmh . . . as I read this thread, I was at a loss to understand why people couldn't locate the main clean out . .. I guess I am fortunate to have it in front of my mail slot (almost in the driveway). I never thought about a sewer cleaning, but appreciate everyone's comments (and unavoidable problems).

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Joined: Dec 8 2006

hate to beat the dead horse deader, but... some of us really don't have a main clean-out in the yard. really! nuthin! nada!

previous owner of decades said there was none. experienced house inspector couldn't find one. called the city and they agreed that, nope!, we don't have one. maybe it's something odd about this particular neighborhood, or maybe we're just cursed for past karma issues. dunno...

the city of mt. view was installing them years ago for home owners who requested them. about 1/2 the homes in our neighborhood have them, easily seen as you walk by those houses. the rest of us are at the mercy of the sometimes-cranky sewer gods. so, now we pay homage to them and cower in fear until we drop $800-900 to install a clean-out as protection against the possible, nightmarish event that causes the sewer gods to spew their venom at us.

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Joined: Mar 25 2005

You're right to beat the dead horse. Some homes never had a cleanout when built - it will vary by neighborhood and the time the house was built. Apparently code did not always require cleanouts between the house and the street. Back to the earlier post, even if one's house originally had a cleanout in the front yard, they frequently do get buried by landscaping.

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Joined: Mar 31 2003

We have lived in our Eichler for the past 40 years in Saratoga and for the past year we have had sewer backup on the side of the house where our main (3 bedrooms) and 2 baths are located. We have had the drain in the master bedroom back up too many times to count. Plumbers have removed the toilet closest to the front of the house because we could not find a cleanout pipe. We have had snaking done about 5 times in the past year. The last time we called the plumber who has been in business for 35 years and seems to know his job and he went up on the roof and poured 1 gallon of sulfuric acid down the drain let it sit for 1 hour and the let the water run in the shower for 15-20 minutes and all was clear. this lasted for 1 month and we are back to square one. happened the night before we were leaving for a 10 day vacation early the next morning. No chance to get the plumber back. On his last visit he told me to do the same thing should it happen again so I am going to give it a try.
He and another plumber said our pipes were too small for the camera to take a look into the system. I am at my wits end. He said we could run a line from the front bathroom thru the wall to the outside and thereby eliminate the problem of removing the toilet or going up on the roof.
Anyone have any thoughts on this problem?????

Lee Stone

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Joined: Dec 20 2004

Try enzyme cleaner that you can get at most Hardware Stores (I got mine at OSH.) Follow the instructions for the first cleanings and then do once a month. This could help if it is not tree roots that are continually growing into the pipe but other bacteria growing in there.

For tree roots you will need to remove the tree and fix the sewage pipes possibly. Call your city utilities before you work on the Sewage pipes as they sometimes will take responsibility for the pipes halfway to the house from the sidewalk for any repairs. If the problem is on their side they might fix it for free.

Any respectable plumber should snake from your roof down the vent pipe. This prevents the mess from splattering around the house. Make sure the plumber is using a heavy duty electric snake and its long enough as you will need at least 100ft to get though the house. I paid $200 from a big roto rooting company.

Also check to make sure some animal/joker did not plug your vent pipes on the roof of the house. If the vent pipe is clogged it will prevent the toilet from flushing completely hence making it clog more easily.

There is a million more reasons on why a toilet could clog but hopefully you saw the two year old throwing things in there and flushing them :-)

-- Ralph

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