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Marty, professional remodeler
Category: Home Improvement
Satisfied Customers: 122
Experience:  30 years of home remodeling
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Plumbing nightmare

Customer Question

I recently bought a forclosed home that has an addition that includes an extra bathroom. Initially I had to call a plumber b/c there was a leak from the main bathroom into the kitchen area and from the bottom of the toilet. After he ran a snake through, he stated that the problem was that I needed to have my septic pumped. Which I did. 1 1/2 months later, I encountered the same problem. However, I was also experiencing the drain line for the washing machine backing up. After calling another plumber and having another snake run...I found that my septic was backed up again. This time he informed me that I had no drain field b/c the previous owner placed a pool on it and crushed the field. So, I had no choice but to connect to the city sewage system. After paying 4,000.00 to connect to the city...I am running into the same problem. I don't know what to do with my plumbing system and I am looking for recommendations.
Submitted: 11 years ago.
Category: Home Improvement
Expert:  The Mystic Wave replied 11 years ago.


I'm sorry for your situation. My thoughts are with you.

I'm a legal secretary/paralegal with 30 years experience in California/Nevada - your question appears to bring up some possible legal issues.....

Can you tell me if you purchased the house through a bank or auction - or was it through some other source?

Were you given any information as to any problems that may be associated with the house/property?

Have you consulted with the city concerning this matter?

Have you discussed this situation with any of your neighbors to see if they have a problem?

Please let me know.

Thank you.

Bright Blessings.

Peace, Love & Happiness,

The Mystic Wave

Expert:  Marty replied 11 years ago.

Are the bathroom and washing machine drains the only two affected?

There is a good possibility that the problem is with your venting
system. Neither of the remedies you have done would correct this
problem. The easiest test is to put a hose down the vent pipe on the
roof. There may be more than one depending on your plumbing. Turn the
hose on and listen to the pipe, if you hear the "pitch" change or if
the pipe fills up, that is your problem. It may sound odd to fix a
toilet from the roof, but I have done it for a customer in the past. In
their case the drain lines were galvanized pipe and had just corroded
over time. Plumbers (usually) only snake the drain line... this can
help for a short period of time as it allows a little more air into the
drain. If the vent is blocked, the water can not get out of the
drain... it's like holding your finger over a straw with water in it...
take your finger away, and the water comes out of the straw.

If you can not get to the roof easily, remove a "trap" from the highest
sink in the house. Remove the entire "U" or "S" part and see if this
helps. If it does, it's a vent problem and you can proceed from there
(at much less expense than a sewer tie-in)

I hope this answered your questions. If it did, kindly click the
"accept" button to reward my efforts. If it did not, let me know how I
can assist you further.



Expert:  Andy Lambert replied 11 years ago.

Connecting to the city was not a waste of money because that had to be done anyway so that issue has been resolved. As far as a lawsuit is concerned, I doubt that you could sue anyone because foreclosed properties are sold "as is". There was no way for the bank or mortgage company to know what the conditions were so they are not liable as they are not subject to the disclosure laws. Next, I am not sure I agree with Marty's suggestion that you run water down the stack pipe. You could end up flooding parts of the house. I do however agree that you should remove a trap at the highest point in the house if you are going to do anything. At least you will be introducing air and not water into the pipe. You need to remember that the vent pipe is also the sewer pipe and yes, the hose from the roof test may allow water to go all the way down to the sewer which would indicate a clean line but if it isn't, the water will hit the clog and back up into the nearest trap. Because "s" or "p" traps do not have back flow preventers, you could get a flood.

Call a plumber and explain to him/her what the problem is and what has already been done to the system and see what they say. At this point, even though it is more likely to be a venting problem, there are too many reasons why you are having this problem. That is my suggestion.

Hope I helped :)

Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to The Mystic Wave's Post: Mystic Wave~

I bought the house through a bank. I had a home inspection, but this problem didn't present itself at that time. I wasn't given a list of any pre-existing problems. Originally the purchase was as-is, but the bank had to have some problems fixed before they would go further.

None of my neighbors have had this type of problem. However, I did learn that the previous owner would patch-fix (or jerry-rig) a lot of the problems that would occur with the house, which really has me nervous. Especially with the addition.
Customer: replied 11 years ago.
Reply to Marty's Post: Martye~

Thank you for your response. To answer your question and give more details. The washer drain line and the main bathroom appear to be the only areas affected. However, now the water in the main bathroom is now backing up into the tub as well as coming from the under the toilet. This also occured when the washer is draining. The bathroom that was an add-on has not been used since I bought the house b/c I need to renovate it.

Earlier today I removed a cap from the sewage line and ran water through it to make sure that there was no clog and the water ran free from that end.

Now, I would like to try your suggestion, but I don't know what a "U" or "S" part is or where it would be located. I am quite a novice (which I think the plumbers like) so if you could give me a little more detail, I would appreciate it.
Expert:  The Mystic Wave replied 11 years ago.


Thank you for the Wave~.....(Responding to my questions).

Here in California, one may have legal recourse, even though purchase of property was by way of "foreclosure"....thus, with your difficulties, I needed to obtain further information - and I thank you kindly for your willingness to answer my questions.

Please know that I am unable to offer you direct information concerning plumbing, my apologies. I do see, however, that the previous specialists have offered such information.

As far as legalities are concerned, you may wish to contact a "city" field supervisor and explain your situation. I am concerned for you being that you were informed that you "had no drain field" thus you spent $4,000 to connect to the city's sewage system.

My concern is that this (possibly) should have resolved the issue and the plumber who advised you of said fact - should be the one to correct the matter....or at least be the one to offer you further assistance in which to resolve it. It may be that the plumber's advice (individual and/or plumbing company) was in error - for which he/they may be held liable .(which is a different matter .....has nothing to do with you purchasing under foreclosure) this may be seen as property damage....I don't know for certain - I'm basically throwing things out here - in order to let you know that, in order to protect your rights, you may wish to consider investigating this further in a "legal" sense. Anything is possible!

I hope this has helped. Please let me know if you wish for further information.

I do hope you are able to resolve this issue quickly.

My best to you.

Bright Blessings.

Peace, Love & Happiness,

The Mystic Wave

Information provided herein is based on my 30 years experience as a legal secretary/paralegal in the State of California, with experience and knowledge in the State of Nevada. This information is not intended to substitute for informed professional legal advice from a practicing, licensed attorney.

Expert:  Marty replied 11 years ago.

If you look under the sink, you will see a pipe approximately 1-1/2" in
diameter. This is the drain line; it will either go back to the wall or
down towards the floor. The part(s) you want to remove look like bent
tubes (called a "trap"). Remove these "bent" pieces, so that all
that is left is a pipe going towards the floor or a pipe going towards
the wall. Now try your drains... if they run better , it is a vent
problem, If not, well let me know and we can go from there. PS you can
(and should) put the pipes back together now