DIY or call a plumber?

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Whiskeyrebel, Apr 28, 2016.

  1. Whiskeyrebel

    Whiskeyrebel Supporting Member

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    I'll be cashing in a vacation day tomorrow. We have a leak at the cleanout cap in the basement. It may need to be snaked as well, judging by how the utility sink is getting stuff backing up into it.
    Is this worth calling out a pro or is this a fairly simple DIY job with rental tools?
     
  2. 335guy

    335guy Member

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    You can probably rent a snake for $30 or so for 4 hrs, plenty of time to snake a drain line. Are your drain lines ABS or cast iron? IMO, as an ardent DIYer, ABS lines are easy to repair, including joints, couplings, and caps. Depending on why the cleanout cap is leaking ( stripped threads maybe? ) all you may need is to wrap the threaded pipe with plumbing teflon tape and screw the cap back on. If the threads are stripped, you can cut back the threaded section and glue on a new threaded section and new cap. Easy enough. Cast iron is much harder to deal with and best left to a plumber if repairs/leaks are required.

    Snaking drains is iffy, depending on what is causing the clog. Typical household clogs ( grease, hair, chopped up veggies from the kitchen sink ) can be snaked easily enough. But if roots have found their way into your sewer drain, then yeah, a snake isn't going to work and you need Rotor Rooter or someone like them. And sometimes, clogs aren't near the clean outs and way up the line. Then the snake has to find it's way to the clog and not go down/in another line or up through a vent line, all of which have happened to me.

    Another factor is how good of a DIYer are you? Can you typically diagnose and repair most household problems? If so, clearing a drain isn't hard. How much is your time worth?
     
  3. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    I used to do that stuff myself. Then I found a guy with a 2" 100' power snake who will snake anything for $50. The only consideration with 2" is if there's a P trap. If there is, use a 1''.
     
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  4. Whiskeyrebel

    Whiskeyrebel Supporting Member

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    The cleanout which is leaking is flush with a small rise in the concrete floor. There is no part of the pipe sticking out but the cap. It isn't the cap on the main sanitary stack. It's off the drain for the utility sink. It almost looks like an old commode drain that has been capped off. It faces up at an angle rather than parallel to the basement wall, and it is aimed away from the neighbor's drive, whereas the cap on the main stack is parallel to the basement wall and aimed away from the back yard.

    Judging from the green patina I think this cap is brass or bronze. The one on the main stack appears to be iron. The lines are iron for certain. I hit both caps with Freez Off in anticipation

    My time is worth plenty but I have tons of PTO days that I never get to use. At the end of last Dec I had 11 left over.

    Home Depot near me rents the power snakes up to 75'. I don't know where my line hits teh sewer so I don't know if that's enough to reach. I do know I have trees.

    Judging from the green patina I think this cap is brass or bronze. The one on the main stack appears to be iron. The lines are iron for certain. I hit both caps with Freez Off in anticipation
     
  5. Bob Pollock

    Bob Pollock Supporting Member

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    You need a snake, and a wet vac. Are you brave?:)
     
  6. Noise Under The Floor

    Noise Under The Floor Supporting Member

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    When you say you have "a leak at the cleanout cap" do you mean water bubbles up out of it when you run that nearby sink? Any pictures of this cap?
     
  7. Whiskeyrebel

    Whiskeyrebel Supporting Member

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    I haven't watched for bubbles, but the water collects right around this cap first and nowhere else.

    Oh and you have the perfect name for this topic, huh?
     
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  8. Noise Under The Floor

    Noise Under The Floor Supporting Member

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    Ha, yeah I guess I do. Although the name is music related, I'm also a plumber.
     
  9. Stratonator

    Stratonator Member

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    All sound advice, but I've learned with some experience that plumbing can be a bit unpredictable and complex to deal with. The symptom you're seeing might only be a small indication of what the root cause is.

    The pros will take care of this expertly and quickly. Meanwhile, I don't stress out or lose my entire day to tackling a chore that might require me viewing YT videos, reading books, and multiple trips to the hardware store.
     
  10. teleman1

    teleman1 Supporting Member

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    One thing about plumbing is one thing leads to another. Sometimes you can avoid another, if you are a plumber. The **** happens saying controls the scene if you are not experienced. Have a back up plan. Like a plumber who also works on your day off.
     
  11. circle_o_5ths

    circle_o_5ths Member

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    If it's roots you need a sectional snake known as an electric eel with a saw blade tip to get through them. Even if you succeed, they will return unless you remove the offending tree or flush copper sulfate down your toilet, if legal to do so in your area, to kill the roots off
     
  12. Whiskeyrebel

    Whiskeyrebel Supporting Member

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    I was able to get the cap out. It hissed when I began to get it to move, which made me suspect that I had broken a sound seal for no good reason, and out came a lot of grey water. After shopvaccing, emptying the vac in the yard by bucket, repeat etc, I got the water below the level of the cap.

    The threads on the cap were fine. It must be bronze. The threads on the mouth of the pipe were almost nonexistant. I don't know what was holding the cap in.

    For now I have one of those rubber caps with a wingnut in there and it no more water is coming out. So hiss or no hiss, the signs point to that being the source of the leak. But the utility basin is still draining painfully slow.

    There is a pipe cap in the yard about 20' from the back of the house...right next to an apple tree. If the sanitary line is along the back fence, that's another 30 or 40 or so feet farther and a rental snake would reach. If it takes an elbow and the sewer is along the street where the manhole is, that's over 100 and calling a pro is the only option.

    My wife says this is worth having a pro handle.
     
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  13. Fishyfishfish

    Fishyfishfish Member

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    Go Pro. My last house and last job ruined my sense of adventure. Never want to see bubbling Poop lakes again.
     
  14. Whiskeyrebel

    Whiskeyrebel Supporting Member

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    I did call a plumber. He checked the cleanout in the basement and in the yard. It was a blockage in the drainpipe in the yard due to tree roots. There was standing water in the pipe behind the blockage. He had it all done in under 30 min. He also checked that the test plug was secure and confirmed that it is OK to use the test plug as a permanent replacement for the metal cap, because of the condition of the internal threads on the cleanout opening.

    Now that I saw what he did could I have done it with rental equipment? I think so. Would I have known that was what needed to be done? Not with any certainty. Would I have been positive that nothing more needed to be done? Absolutely not. That makes it worthwhile.
     
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  15. Chris Pile

    Chris Pile Member

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    I'm old. I call a plumber (Tom at Clog Father), and he gives me a senior discount. And he's damn good.
     
  16. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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    A friend had a clogged drain and rented a power rooter to snake it out. He couldn't find a cleanout (slab), so he tried going down the toilet. It went up the stack vent instead, and exited on his roof, where it managed to ensnare the chimney, which also had the TV antenna strapped to it. He thought for sure he'd found the clog and got pretty aggressive with it. Unable to retract the snake, and nearing the 4 hr mark, he called the rental store and they told him to bring in the power head as they had extra snakes, and someone needed the unit. When he got outside, several of his neighbors were gathered and staring at his roof, which now had a collapsed chimney, twisted antenna, and the business end of the aforementioned snake. To rub salt in the wound, one of them had the same model house, and showed him where the cleanout was (in the bushes).

     
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  17. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    You can do serious damage with a power snake if you don't know what you're doing and/or if you don't know the layout of the drains. I know more than one person who thought they could do it themselves and ended up with an expensive septic repair thanks to things like P traps.

    I actually have a septic guy coming out Tuesday to the house I just bought for my daughter. They're going to pull the top of the tank off, kill the tree roots, reline the tank and snake out the entire system from the tank to the house for $550. Why would I spend any of my time messing with it when it's that cheap. Now the tree that owns all those roots is going to cost me $5000 to take down, but it's not like I have much of a choice there.
     
  18. skydog

    skydog Supporting Member

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    1) you don't have the $550
    2) you know how to do the work yourself
    3) you have or have access to the equipment
    4) you like the smell of poop!
     
  19. Floyd Eye

    Floyd Eye Member

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    I have the $550, I know how to do the work myself and have access to the equipment and dislike the smell of poop.
     
  20. swiveltung

    swiveltung Member

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    Just don't use TPI. BIG ripoff.
     

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