The plumber came out while I was at work on Sunday. Big Ruckus D called it– my snake wasn’t big enough (stop laughing). My wife met with him when he came over, he was here less than 30 minutes.

It turns out that the professionals use a larger snake, and cleaned out the pipes quickly with his larger tool.

As I type this, I realize that there are many, many jokes that can be made out of the plumber using his larger snake to clean out my wife’s pipes while I was at work. At any rate, the bill was $165 and I can again use my toilet. The best part? My in laws and wife spent the rest of the day cleaning the house, so when I got home everything was already cleaned up.

I don’t think that this was related to the mystery that is the pipes not working when the wind blows out of the north. I think that this was a different problem.

Categories: Me


The other Phil · June 28, 2021 at 1:16 pm

The only plausible connection between your gravity drain and the wind direction is your vent pipe, but even that is tenuous at best. Can you describe what happens?

Is the vent partially blocked at the top with debris? Does it terminate at a point below the roof line?

    Divemedic · June 28, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    From a year and a half ago:

    It’s been an ongoing problem for years.

      The other Phil · June 28, 2021 at 4:28 pm

      I don’t think it’s a wind-driven venting problem. The winds never blows consistently in one direction or speed for 2-4 days straight. Never.

      I’d replace the toilet and get the pipe scoped while it’s off.

Big Ruckus D · June 28, 2021 at 4:20 pm

Good to hear you got it cleared out. I’d suggest if you have a recurrence in the short term to have a video inspection done on the lateral to see if there is some issue (partial collapse, offset at a joint, low spot in the line etc.) that is causing things to hang up.

There was a follow up comment alluding to low flow fixtures – toilets specifically – causing problems in older homes with lines sized for full flow. I see this pretty rotuinely in my hometown having a lot of old housing stock. Stacks and laterals were sized for 3.5 Gpf toilets – or even 5+ Gpf toilets prior to about 1950 – and 1.6Gpf (or less with new some toilets in the past few years) doesnt provide enough water to fully carry away the solids through the line all the way to the street.

In essence, the water runs out (and thereby the velocity to move the solids along the line) too soon. This is even worse if the original ground rough was done poorly and has inadequate – or too much – fall, which should be 1/4″ per foot all the way out from the base of the stack.

As to your mystery venting problem, don’t discount the possibility of a faulty toilet. Have seen some very strange stuff. Had a credit card caught in he trapway of a toilet once (not visible) and 9 out of 10 flushes would be fine. The odd one out would have credit card swing perpendicular to the pathway through the trap and effectively seal it off causing a backup. A closet augur would go right past it, as the card would realign itself parallel to the trapway. Stumped 4 other plumbers before I got there, pulled the bowl and inverted it outside then used a hose with a nozzle to flush it out. Somebody ended up with shitty credit. Ok, I had to say it.

Victor · June 28, 2021 at 5:16 pm

Scoping it would be worth the money, for no other reason than it would probably identify whatever issue was the problem farther than 25 feet down the pipe. If it’s a “dip” in the pipe forming a low spot that collects debris, “farther than 25 ft” might put it outside the slab and reachable. In any event, no longer being a crisis allows you to research the project for cost and competency. Might even be rental units available.

And, depending on the result, it may be worthwhile to start shopping for a “much longer than 25 ft” snake. If a plumber is retiring, going out of biz, etc. one might be available for a more reasonable amount than new.

TechieDude · June 29, 2021 at 8:09 am

Big Ruckus is more than likely right. I had a plumber tell me that 1.6gpf was going to cause issues back when they came out. Way back, decades ago, I rebuilt the bathrooms in our first house. I treated those old toilets like a newborn. No way in hell I wasn’t putting those back.

Come to think of it, all my plumbing issues since I moved to TX were in old houses that had refurb done – new shiny bathrooms, 1.6 gpf toilets.

I don’t understand why we can’t get toilets like I saw in England – two flush buttons – one for pee, one for dook. Seems to me you’d need even less than 1.6 gpf if you were flushing a #1.

You can rent a powered snake at home depot for like $40, but you need to know what you’re doing and get the right sized one. Dudes there told me a story of a customer that had a clogged pipe and insisted on renting the biggest one, which chewed up the PVC pipe under his house.

We have a company here that this is all they do…clear drains. I have a long snake that I can clear most issues with but these days I call the pros. It only happens every other year or so, usually caused by a female flushing wipes or tampons.

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