Frozen main drain?


  #1  
Old 01-30-05, 11:27 AM
briwoods
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Frozen main drain?

Hi- I'm in desperate need of help so I thought I'd seek out the advice of the best! I live in a 150 year old three story townhouse in Boston. We have had a string of below freezing days and have received over 30" of snow in the past week alone. I am having a problem with the vertical portion of my cast iron main drain line.

I was away on business for a few days, and the vertical portion of the main line is below the house in an uninsulated crawl space (below frost line) underneath a ceramic tile floor. Yesterday I took a shower on the top (3rd) floor (1st time plumbing used here in 4 days). Water ended up backing up into the other bathroom's tub (on 2nd floor, directly below 3rd floor bathroom) and I noticed a leak off the branch line from the main drain. I collected all of that water, but noticed that there is still a back up in the main drain line. The local drain expert thinks that the vertical portion of the drain line could be frozen, and since the cleanout is in an unaccessible area and could be ice that the only feasible solution is using water jetting as opposed to snaking the drain through the 2nd floor toilet access point.

So,would snaking work to break up the ice/clog, or should I spend the money on the water jet (VERY expensive)? Or if it is ice, is there an easier way to break up the ice since I can't really heat the pipe. Is there a liquid solution (Drano?) that would work to melt the ice?

Thanks!
 
  #2  
Old 01-30-05, 09:38 PM
Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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Do NOT use any caustic drain cleaners like Drano, or any direct flame heat, such as a propane torch on frozen pipes.
Except for traps, there really shouldn't be enough water in a drain line for it to freeze and block up. Do you know if that old house has a whole-house main line trap. Being that old, it just might.
If you're sure that it's frozen, you can try a chemical de-icer like they use on roads.
Good luck!
Mike
 
  #3  
Old 01-31-05, 05:07 AM
briwoods
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Thanks Mike!

There is a whole house main line trap, but its pretty inaccessible since a floor runs right up to it. The indicator of the blockage was a leak off one of the branch lines and the inability to drain a bathroom sink full of water without causing the leak to start again. After a couple of days of above freezing temperature, this morning I was able to flush 2 toilets and empty two bathroom sinks full of hot water without causing the branch leak. The cast iron pipe even warmed up when the hot water passed through. Based on this I think I might be in the clear? Any other ways to check?

-Brian
 
  #4  
Old 01-31-05, 05:25 AM
Mike Swearingen's Avatar
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A video inspection of the line by a drain cleaning company could tell you the condition of the drain system. You should repair all leaks to prevent further damages.
Good Luck!
Mike
 
  #5  
Old 01-31-05, 05:50 AM
briwoods
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Thanks again!
 
 

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