Author Topic: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe (Read 39529 times)

CyberPwnie

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Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« on: March 23, 2013, 11:18:25 AM »
In October my husband and I bought our first house (a fixer-upper, in true Mustachian style). The first few loads of laundry I did after we moved in in December, everything seemed to be fine. Then, without warning, one day when the machine was draining, water began to spew out of the top of the drain pipe that the machine's drain hose is hooked into. We called a plumber friend who guessed it was probably corrosion build up and told us to use a Drain-O equivalent. We followed the directions on a couple bottles of this stuff, trying three or four times, but still got spewage every time we ran the washer. Then we bought a tool that uses air pressure to force clogs out of pipes. When the drain was empty, we weren't able to get enough pressure built up for this to accomplish anything, so we tried using it when there was water in the pipe as well. Still no success as the pipe continued to overflow on every run. We also tried a drain auger, but it didn't appear to accomplish anything either.

Then my husband's parents visited for a long weekend, and hubby and his dad bought a "bladder" (a little balloon that you attach to the end of a hose and then it blocks the pipe and forces water through it). They hooked that up to the pipe just beyond the trap (detached the joint there), ran it for a while, and it appeared the clog was cleared. I ran a load with no overflow, but then I ran a second, larger load (I had quite a bit of laundry waiting to be washed, by this point), and it overflowed just a little on the first drain cycle. That was about a month ago, and it's gotten progressively worse again since.

Since then, I tried to do a load when it was raining, and the drain tried to back up every few seconds. (Thankfully, our machine has a pause button that makes all of this a little more bearable, but boy, what a pain to babysit the washer!) Then, when my husband went to run the garbage disposal in the kitchen sink, the water came spewing back out the washing machine drain pipe. So my husband guessed we had a blockage that had moved from the washing machine pipe to the kitchen (where the main drain is). The next day he used the bladder again and noticed what looked like sand in the opening where he inserted it. We ran the water through the bladder for quite a while, but the pipe is STILL backing up.

One more thing--my dad thought we might have a broken pipe, which is entirely possible--the house was built on a slab foundation with copper pipes running through the slab. We were told that in the late 60s, when the house was built, builders didn't know that concrete and copper don't mix, so we inherited disintegrating pipes. We fixed leaky pipes downstairs by re-running them through the ceiling, but that really isn't an option for a drain...

This is driving us crazy... We really don't want to call someone to take care of it after all the time, money, and effort we've put into it, but we're starting to feel beaten. Does this sound like a broken pipe? Could it be something is still clogging it? Any suggestions for addressing the issue? Or are we truly beaten?

Thanks for any help!

Matthew

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2013, 03:18:41 PM »
Are you on a septic system?

CyberPwnie

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2013, 05:32:27 PM »
Thanks for replying, Matthew. No, we are not on a septic system.

Matthew

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2013, 07:21:00 PM »
Sorry, can't help you then. Your symptoms are just like a septic problem I had a few years ago.

Spork

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2013, 07:31:31 PM »

This sounds like an issue I had a few years back... and ohmygod I hope it isn't.

We had a cast iron pipe that had rusted through entirely... leaving 14 feet of a U-shaped pipe in the center of a concrete slab house. We could sometimes fix it temporarily with things like what you tried... by opening up the closing in earth... but eventually we had to replace the pipe.

Ours eventually caused foundation problems by heaving up the soil in the center of the house. I might have a plumber come out with a camera and see if they can see what/where the problem is.

Photo evidence... the plumbing is in the section called "aftermath". It includes a 14 foot Hogan's Heros style tunnel to fix it.
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CyberPwnie

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #5 on: March 24, 2013, 06:08:32 AM »
Spork, wow, that looks really involved. Did you do the work yourself, or did you have to hire someone to do it? I think we'll probably need to get a camera down there; the more we deal with this, the more I think it probably is something similar to the problem you experienced. :(

Spork

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #6 on: March 24, 2013, 07:18:11 AM »
No, I did none of this myself*. This was not a do-it-yourself job. (Or not one for me, anyway.) I am all for DIY, but I have my limits.

*I did none of the repair. I did, however, do all of the repair of the repair. I replaced the floors, patched the saltillo tile and patched the stamped concrete.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2013, 09:20:32 AM by Spork »
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AlexK

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #7 on: March 24, 2013, 10:24:47 AM »
I had the same problem and it turned out to be a missing section of sewer pipe out in the yard. Strange for a 20 year old house I know. Get a plumber out there with a camera, they will determine the problem and also locate it. At that point you can decide if it's diy possible or not.

CyberPwnie

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #8 on: March 24, 2013, 02:19:33 PM »
Thanks for all the input! We're going to see if we can get a camera down there (maybe we can rent one somewhere?) and determine what the problem is.

Nords

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #9 on: March 24, 2013, 07:44:34 PM »
Another possibility is tree roots growing through the piping. Whatever's causing it, when you have rain then groundwater is getting into the main drain line between the kitchen and the street and it's not leaving the drain piping very quickly.

One cheap & easy step is checking the vent lines over the washer & kitchen sink. You want to know that they're allowing air to vent out of the drain piping (on the roof) when water is draining into it from the washer or the kitchen sink. I've read of vent pipes plugged with tennis balls or critter carcasses, or even cut off/capped during remodels by incompetent contractors.

Do you have a cleanout plug downstream of the drain? It might be in the garage floor or on the sidewalk/driveway. You can open the plug and run a snake through there much more easily than through the washer/kitchen sink. It'll also help you determine whether the plug is downstream of the cleanup or upstream so that in the worst case you'll be able to determine whether you'll need to dig up the front yard-- or jackhammer the foundation.

The bladder/hose contraptions are nice for clearing the remaining debris after you've broken the plug, but breaking the plug is best done with a snake or a roto-rooter (especially an auger for tree roots).

If you do decide that tree roots are getting into the drain piping, seek professional help. The drain piping may be collapsing or corroding, so even if you clear out the roots then they'll grow back-- or dirt & debris can still get into the drain piping to clog it again.
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thurston howell iv

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2013, 06:54:05 AM »
I recently had a similar issue:

When I'd do laundry, I'd get water (stinky black sewer gunk) backing up into the bathtub and the toilet bubbling - they're at the lowest point in the house.

I was advised to use some "johnny lightning" in the washing machine drain pipe. I tried it and it seemed to help briefly but then started getting bad again.

Luckily, (we're on city sewer system)- the local city sewer folks were responsible for the outside lines. They came over and opened the "clean out" cap and ran a snake all the way to the "main" line. Still had issues... Their supervisor balked at the camera idea and instead had them run a few hundred gallons of water at super high pressure into the line to blow it out. This was some contraption set up on one of their trucks (came with their own water supply too!)

Anyway, after a few minutes, the trick worked and the pressure managed to unstop the blockage which was apparently akin to a soapy, sticky goop residue which would apparently allow the snake through it but would goop up again after the snake was withdrawn. Anyway, the pipe was apparently completely plugged with this gunk. It was bad enough that for the first minute or so, we had some sewage back up out of the clean out and onto the lawn. But, another few minutes and the blockage was history! Flushed into the mainline...

All of this was handled by the local city sewer folks so we lucked out. Not sure if it's 100% relevant to your situation but it could be a possibility.

Good luck with getting to the bottom of your issue.

Nate R

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2013, 08:58:18 AM »
Yep, needs to be camera'd and maybe augered. Some states allow drain cleaning outfits (if that's ALL they do) to NOT have a plumbing license. Getting one that knows what they're doing could come out cheaper than a normal licensed plumber, too. (Unless you need sewer work, then plumbers will need to get involved.)

Spork

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Re: Overflowing Washing Machine Drainpipe
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2013, 09:43:31 AM »
btw... When I've looked at augering drains myself (renting the unit) the price was as much as "a reasonable plumber." (There are LOTS of "unreasonable plumbers.") It was at that point that I realized if I tried the bladder contraption and it didn't work: call a plumber.

Some will sell their dreams for small desires
Or lose the race to rats
Get caught in ticking traps
And start to dream of somewhere
To relax their restless flight