Monday, July 05, 2010

Déjà Poo

from the hammock

About 2.5 years ago or so, the sewer backed up into the laundry sinks, the lowest drain in the house. So yesterday when K went into the basement to get the hammock out, then promptly reappeared with an alarmed look and the dire news, I wasn't as horrified because I had some idea what to expect. More importantly, I knew what to do (i.e., call RotoRooter) instead of messing about myself, because the blockage was likely beyond what I could reach with a small snake. Since the problem was discovered early, and it wasn't 100% blocked, we were able to minimize the mess by reducing water usage, and so it wasn't déjà poo all over again.

And not insignificantly, we could schedule them to come today, which is not a Sunday or holiday, and thereby pay normal rates instead. Regular rates are bad enough, but totally worth it. As before, we had to pay for a second plumber, because the cleanout is far enough under the house it needs one to run the machine and one to feed the snake in and out. So yesterday we relaxed in the hammock, secure in the knowledge that help would arrive today.

$350 worth of roots

We actually got 3 guys for the price of 2, which worked out well. I was able to ask the 3rd guy questions while the other 2 were working, and found out a few things. First, we could install a sewer backflow preventer. However, besides requiring the digging of a really deep hole, it means the sewage backup would go somewhere in the yard instead of the laundry sinks. I'm not sure that would be an improvement. Another option is installing just an exterior cleanout. That in theory would allow a single person to run the snake, and probably be quicker, too, since they wouldn't need to snake as far as they do from under the house.

While the two guys were running the snake, we listened around in the yard and got a better idea of where exactly the sewer line runs to the main. Sadly, that info points to our lovely little Japanese maple as a likely culprit for the root intrusion, but I now have a better idea of where to dig if I need to.

The first thing to try though is something like RootX, which kills any roots in the sewer line. The local RotoRooter used to sell it, but changing state regs meant they had to get a pesticide/herbicide license (in addition to a plumbing contractor's license), and it got increasingly difficult to comply with so they no longer sell root killers.

In the meantime, I'm happy because we can use the bathrooms again without worry, and I've got a plan to deal with next time, by attempting to make sure there is no next time.