It looked me square in the eye and said, "I AM GROOT!" Now what?
May 3, 2015 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Need a little advice about snaking out a drain. It's draining now, but am I done done.

So Friday just as we were about to leave town the toilet started behaving badly and backed through the basement drains. Yay me. Today when I got home I rented a big damn power snake and went crazy. Pull a bunch of root mass out of the sewer with the spear blade on my first couple passes, didn't get so much with a blade head. Going to go do another pass with a retriever.

How many times and with how many different blades do I run this thing up and down my pipes, or can I just go take a shower now?
posted by Kid Charlemagne to Home & Garden (5 answers total)
All I know is that if it is tree roots causing the problem, you may want to plan on doing it in a year or two. We started calling the drain people annually after the second time we had to clean raw sewage from where the toilet flooded. (It always floods in the lowest toilet which is a spot where it is seldom used and we don't notice the flooding for a while). The drain people said every two years should be often enough but I would rather pay them annually and avoid the unpleasant surprises.
posted by metahawk at 6:35 PM on May 3, 2015

Need more info.

We used to get a guy in every 6-9 months to re-clear the sewer pipe (for close to a decade). Needn't now, as we got the yard dug up, and the buggered pipes replaced. This required getting a drain-cam view to find exactly where the break was, to find where to dig. This is all with 1920s-vintage terracotta pipes, and with the culprit tree(s) still alive.

You should almost certainly shower before that six month mark comes around.
posted by pompomtom at 8:57 PM on May 3, 2015

Here's a more permanent option, seen on Ask This Old House. A Dallas homeowner has a root-intrusion problem and they fix it with a fairly amazing process of lining the old sewer line with a new rigid pipe (start at 11:25), made from a composite of a polyester sock soaked with an epoxy. The result is a seamless sewer line.

No clue how expensive it is, and when you find out, you'll have to run the numbers to see if it pays itself off (in time, money, and aggravation saved) before you think you'll be selling the house.
posted by Sunburnt at 9:33 PM on May 3, 2015

Tree roots will grow back into your sewer within a year. A sewer line replacement/relining would be in the ballpark of $10k, and you would never be worried about a sewage filled basement again.
posted by monotreme at 10:53 PM on May 3, 2015

Landlord, running 55 rental units in about 30 buildings of assorted ages. Every time I have had to play Tree Root Sewer Snake, it has ended in "Cut down the tree" and/or "Run new, green plastic sewer line instead of Terra Cotta". Sometimes both.

I have also, for intractable sewer line problem unrelated to tree roots (terra cotta cracked and leaking into someone else's basement adjacent to our building) lined the sewer with plastic a la suggestion by Sunburnt and monotreme. It cost on the close order of 10K and fixed the issue but was definitely a "hire a professional" sort of deal.

If cost is a serious concern, cutting down the tree(s) will work cheapest if you can do that. Digging up and replacing the terra cotta sewer is also way cheaper than lining the pipe.

Best of luck!
posted by which_chick at 12:12 PM on May 4, 2015

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