/ Blocked Drain

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Greenbanks 07 Jun 2019

This is like a needle in a haystack job. Our house is old. A downstairs loo is blocked & I have been told (by the £75.00 per call out plumber) that the blockage may be in a pipe under the floor - he reckons that tiling has been put over an access manhole - but can’t locate it.

Any ideas as to how I can identify the location of the blockage without setting to and lifting the floor. Tried heavy duty caustic soda & chemicals...and rods aren’t flexible enough. What’s the best way to locate a ‘lost’ drain cover?

Apols if you’re having breakfast

Thankd

Gwain 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

You could try rodding back from the next manhole and measuring how far the rods go. You may even hit the blockage that way. Can you take the loo out? You could rod without having to negotiate the u bend then. 

Hope that helps, 

Gwain. 

rogersavery 07 Jun 2019

Try something more flexible than rods to try and locate the blockage - something like a stiff hosepipe.

if you can locate the blockage with the hosepipe and if you have access to a compressor, give it a blast of air to clear it.

Pursued by a bear 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Gwain:

That's what I'd do.

That's also not necessarily a recommendation.

T.

Greenbanks 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

Thanks for the suggestions. - appreciated. I think that I'll have a scout around for some flexible rods...the compressor idea also might be worth investigating.

Will keep the Forum appraised of the eventual solution - the country is in enough sh*t as it is 

wintertree 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

Metal detector?

Reach>Talent 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

In this situation I would try to rod back from 'downstream' as someone else suggested, failing that you can get some very flexible drain snakes (think really long thin spring with a winding handle on the end) which will get just about anywhere. 

When you tried drain clearing chemicals did you try using a hose to get them down to the blockage or just tip them into the U-bend?

Be a bit careful with relying upon pressure to shift the blockage as you can end up separating the joints in the waste pipe! 

lone 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

I find that a mop used as a plunger helps, flush the loo so the pan fills with water and gently plunge the mop into the bottom of the pan, do this a few times until the blockage loosens and the water you have in the pan should help flush it away.

Jason

Post edited at 09:36
nniff 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

Pretty much what everyone else has said - get some rods with a pig tail on the end and work upstream.  Only turn clockwise, never anti-clockwise.

A spring based device may work and will go round the U-bend but will make put those nasty black line on porcelain.  If the bowl is reasonably empty (and probably even if not), removing the loo & U bend would be a better option than digging up the floor.  Getting someone in with a water jet would be a whole lot better than digging up the floor.

My experience in this regard? - being the first house uphill of a blocked sewer for 10 weeks, during the course of which I became very, very familiar with the insides of drains and the options for trying to get anything to shift.  Ended up with a gurt hole in the road.

elsewhere 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

Never used one but there are drain cleaning attachments for pressure washers.

MrsBuggins 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

Another vote for back rodding

Greenbanks 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

Thanks all! This stuff is brilliant - I was going to say 'food for thought', but that's not very appropriate in the circumstances. Will see what works and (as said) will certainly report back.

MJAngry 07 Jun 2019
Toby_W 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

I got a lidl pressure washer that came with a drain attachment.  One of the ends self propels (some of the water is fired backwards) and I fed this in and it dragged itself through.  Found later this was for small blockages in bathroom pipes and I could have just blasted our main drain.  

We have a similar issue with a possible hidden cover and I have usb camera on 5m of cable that i go online that I was going to tape to the pressure washer end to explore this.

Good luck

Toby

Greenbanks 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

Update!

In an age when (it seems) local authorities/councils etc draw a lot of negative press, check this out. Mrs G phoned them & asked whether they had in their posession any old plans of the house (it had been subject to a planning application some years ago). Bingo - within less than an hour we were sent copies of the plans by email. These show location of mains drainage & access points on the current footprint.

Net result is we can at least target the drain blockage more accurately, thus reducing impact of any invasive works to get at the problem. Not solved yet - but a good step forwards. And fair play to the efficiency of the Council.

Cheers.

Olaf Prot 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

Get a Coke-sized plastic bottle (i.e. big enough to not go down the pan), ideally with a rounded rather than flat bottom, fill it up to give it some weight and try ramming it. Worked for me in the past

Deadeye 07 Jun 2019
In reply to MrsBuggins:

> Another vote for back rodding

Yes, who doesn't like a bit of that?

😁

MrsBuggins 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Deadeye:

> Yes, who doesn't like a bit of that?

> 😁


Dirty bugger

Toerag 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

If there's a downstream access point that doesn't have sewage backing up out of it the blockage is obviously upstream of that.  I'd be wary of powerful methods of unblocking if you've got tiled-over access points, the last thing you want is to force up a hidden manhole lid. If the blockage is a partial one i.e. slow draining then try a chemical unblocker (acid / caustic soda) as it will get to the blockage and hopefully dissolve it enough to remove it.

deepsoup 07 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

> ...the compressor idea also might be worth investigating.

You're not daft and this is kind of obvious, but I'm going to say it anyway...

Be very careful about 'blowback' if you decide to go this way.  Some of the fluid in the pipe might be splashed in your direction and you don't want it on your skin or in your eyes, especially if there are still caustic chemicals in there from your attempt to dissolve the blockage.

Dax H 08 Jun 2019
In reply to Toby_W:

> I got a lidl pressure washer that came with a drain attachment.  One of the ends self propels (some of the water is fired backwards) and I fed this in and it dragged itself through.  Found later this was for small blockages in bathroom pipes and I could have just blasted our main drain.  

The problem with these self propelling drain jetters is it can be easy to get them stuck. I do a lot with professional drain jetters on site and even they get stuck sometimes. 

Toby_W 08 Jun 2019
In reply to deepsoup:

I’d add that a friend used a sort of plunge compressor thing when he had a blocked bathroom pipe.  Did the job a treat until he got damp patches and water coming through his ceiling, it had popped all the compression/pressfit pipes apart!

Dax, I’ve no doubt, it did catch a few times and I’m just trying to block the whole memory out.  A few hours of feeding and yanking the thing while standing in a mist of shit, the horror.

Cheers

Toby

Rmb1 08 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

Followed this plumbers advice on google... and it worked ...

Push a hose pipe down the pan as far as it will go.  Surround it with tightly packed towels / sheets etc

stand on them and turn on the water. Can take up to 30 mins but the gradual increase in pressure often does the trick. Good luck

Graham6664 08 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

When you have a blockage obviously something is obstructing the pipe, when you put chemicals down the pipe this removes all of the debris on the pipe walls which now settles on the blockage making it worse, any pressurised force then packs the blockage tighter. Some times the best option is suction rather than pressure to loosen the blockage and soon as there is a small flow the obstruction can sometimes flush away. Try a having a go with a sink plunger of an appropriate size to cover the opening, pan , sink etc. push slowly but pull quickly.

Hope this helps

Graham

fred99 09 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

Also have an old house.

Also have had blockages.

Now with the usual caveat regarding the fact that I am not a plumber.

Best method I have found is to get a plain ordinary hosepipe, with the nozzle set to the fiercest jet possible, then (prior to turning on the tap, as this makes the pipe more "solid" and difficult to get around any bends), shove the hose up the system from the opposite end (where you want it to drain to) and when you find it stop, pull it back a couple of inches or so, and turn on the tap full blast.

This breaks up whatever it is, slowly at first, and then incrementally quicker.

You can tell if it's working because you should see "something horrible" appearing in front of you.

Keep going until the upstream end completely clears, and then turn off the hose tap. You may need to do this a couple of times, or possibly push it further up when part of the blockage is cleared.

Warning: It stinks to high heaven, you need to fully flush the system afterwards (a full bath, washbasin, toilet cistern - you get the idea). And then you have to clean the hose down as it won't be too pleasant either. Wear gloves and old clothes and prepare for quick and easy access to the shower afterwards.

Shani 09 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

The answer to very few of life's questions is "Pongtu". This is the exception. Prepare to be amazed with this high stakes solution:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaSEaIpi89c

Toerag 09 Jun 2019
In reply to fred99:

>  Keep going until the upstream end completely clears, and then turn off the hose tap. You may need to do this a couple of times, or possibly push it further up when part of the blockage is cleared.

I have visions of the hose being push so far up the drain it appears in the bog and you blast the whole room....

fred99 10 Jun 2019
In reply to Toerag:

That's not a vision, it's a nightmare.

Sam W 10 Jun 2019
In reply to Toerag

> I have visions of the hose being push so far up the drain it appears in the bog and you blast the whole room..

Reminds me of a photo I saw when working at a big regional water utility. They had been jetting a sewer to remove a blockage, but had accidentally pushed the jetting hose up through an unfortunate customers toilet and fully covered their bathroom with sewer content.

Fortunately nobody was in the bathroom at the time.

Greenbanks 10 Jun 2019
In reply to Sam W:

<Fortunately nobody was in the bathroom at the time>

Or, even more disastrously, on the Krapper...

nniff 10 Jun 2019
In reply to Greenbanks:

I used to live in a barracks on the North German plain.  In the summer, there were frequent thunderstorms and torrential rain.  The two together very occasionally led to power cuts, an associated failure of the pumps that kept everything moving, and a rapid rise in the levels in all the sewers and drains.  The Orderly Officer therefore had an unusual set of instructions for actions in the event of a power cut during a period of heavy rain.  No-one was really sure why, as the two had not happened together for a long time.  When it did happen, no-one reacted with the urgency needed.  The outline of the young lady who had been on the crapper when the drains exploded was visible on the wall when the lights came back on.  The building was uninhabitable for some time - it was the lowest building on the site, and had loos on the ground floor.  Curiously, one particular set of instructions got moved to the front of the folder.......


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