help, under-slab possible sewer nightmare :-/


  #1  
Old 05-11-20, 07:11 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 10
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
help, under-slab possible sewer nightmare :-/

Shortest possible detail:

I'm living in a roughly 20 year old house in minnesota apparently designed by idiots. If I end up with some $10,000 repair i'll probably end up homeless so i'm trying to see whats possible.

Years ago there was a sewer backup problem, that i'm back to trying to fix again because something got worse after a basement flood. We ran a video camera down the sewer originally at the time and I remember seeing a series of 3 clear door-flap things that the sewer camera would push through - seemingly an anti backflow valve meant for water to go out, but not be able to readily flow back in.

The third one never opened. The guy tried smacking it hard enough with the camera to potentially break it even and it still wouldn't open/seemingly seized. (this was when it was literally only 6 years old or so as a house already past the near worthless '2 year house warranty' as it was) That answered why I had sewer backups at the time but I couldn't do anything to fix it because I was hanging on by my fingernails in life so I just stopped using the dishwasher or washing machine at home since that was the only time there was ever a problem.

At the time the plumbing guy "guessed there must be some kind of access port from the top that lets you clear out or move those flaps manually" if we were willing to yank up all the carpet, but since I had the room it seemed to be in full of storage with nowhere to conveniently move it I couldn't chase after it at the time.


So I had a flood last fall when the septic pump failed out of the blue without warning and i'm guessing some dirt or something got additionally flushed down the floor drains. Carpet was damaged and the worthless homeowner insurance is stiffing me for everything. So I pull up all the carpet and... there's no access anything, or not really. There was a plastered over access port of sorts so a friend helps me chop through it, standard screw top that I see elsewhere, and a pipe that goes straight down and has the sewer feed in from the side. But there is no way to access the TOP of those three flappy valves that seem to be before this, like even if something could be shoved down from THIS side the valve was pretty dang well seized from pushing from the other side...

So now i'm being kept awake at night sick wondering if this means someone has to jackhammer through the floor to even reach those things. I'm half wondering if there's some way to just break the third backflow valve but it doesn't seem like it's right at the end of the access port, I mean it's not within inches/i'm not sure how far up the pipe it is but it's not "right there". There's no top access for the flappy-valve like the original plumber guy thought there would be. And now the sludge from the sewer backup that washed down the floor drains seems to be causing renewed problems - a sudden flushing of water down the drains (pressurized from the washing machine, what would originally cause the problem) doesn't work because that third flapper valve was the problem originally.

What ARE even the options?
 
  #2  
Old 05-11-20, 08:56 AM
Marq1's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: USA MI
Posts: 9,248
Received 1,099 Upvotes on 999 Posts
Maybe its me but this is confusing, you mention septic pumps, sewer line backups, basements and access ports, back flow preventers and flappy valves. Yet I still can not grasp the whole issue at hand.

Maybe repost with clarity!
 
  #3  
Old 05-11-20, 08:57 AM
P
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 25,943
Received 1,759 Upvotes on 1,572 Posts
So, you had a back flow preventer in your drain line stuck and you never fixed it???

If you had a plumber out with a camera did they mark the location of the back flow preventers?

First, you need to find and repair or replace your back flow preventers so the sewage from your home can leave. This is usually done during a camera inspection as they know where the end of the camera is or at least how far away it is though many camera heads have radio beacons so they can be found underground.
 
  #4  
Old 05-11-20, 09:23 AM
Z
Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 3,099
Received 91 Upvotes on 84 Posts
I have a septic system but as far as I know I don’t have any backflow preventers (not good). It seems to me the video below and the linked website give a good description of how they work – and shows that they are different from check valves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iQNM01WJFrQ

https://a1sewercleaning.com/sewer-ba...-need-to-know/

But are you sure there are 3? It seems strange that there would be 3. It sounds like you are saying that that third valve has been stuck closed all of these years because the plumber was never able to open it. But if it’s stuck closed then why don’t you have backups 100% of the time?

How did the guy get the camera down there? You might be able to rent a heavy duty snake and push it through the same channel that the guy used for the camera. That might force the door open.

But it would be better if one of the more knowledgeable guys here weighed in on that, because if you got a snake caught in the valve it could be a nightmare. But it might be something to think about.

(well I just now saw the 2 previous posts. good info there.)
 
  #5  
Old 05-11-20, 10:26 AM
Z
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 5,825
Received 364 Upvotes on 326 Posts
The priority I think is to find and uncover the backflow valve. While they are recommended in some situations, they do need maintenance - and it sounds like yours at least needs repair if not replacement.

Most camera snakes have a locating capability. Either via tracking the number of feet the snake is out, or by using a transmitter in the camera and a handheld receiver. You should be able to locate it within 6-12" without a problem and determine if it was sealed under the slab, or might be somewhere you don't expect it to be.

It all seems odd. I've seen my fair share of poorly constructed homes, but it seems odd to have 3 flappers/protectors. Also, I find it odd that it would be buried under the cement. Anything's possible of course, but unlikely.
 
  #6  
Old 07-07-20, 10:32 AM
B
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 10
Upvotes: 0
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
[The priority I think is to find and uncover the backflow valve. While they are recommended in some situations, they do need maintenance - and it sounds like yours at least needs repair if not replacement.

Most camera snakes have a locating capability. Either via tracking the number of feet the snake is out, or by using a transmitter in the camera and a handheld receiver. You should be able to locate it within 6-12" without a problem and determine if it was sealed under the slab, or might be somewhere you don't expect it to be.

It all seems odd. I've seen my fair share of poorly constructed homes, but it seems odd to have 3 flappers/protectors. Also, I find it odd that it would be buried under the cement. Anything's possible of course, but unlikely.]

Okay well I have an update on that. Apparently my parents were more senile than I thought. I had friends move the freezer which clearly never should have been placed there (I never moved it myself as it's too heavy for a disabled person and girlfriend to move) and this is what was under it:


Yet I distinctly remember the snake pushing through two separate clear flappers before butting it's head against the third. And the estimate of distance he gave me combined with the direction the snake was going put it solidly in the bedroom whose carpet I tore up because he told me "clear out that room pull up the carpet and call me back" all those years ago. Unless the route was circuitous and wierd and doubled back on itself... regardless, the above CANPLAS cover was hidden under the worlds heaviest freezer clearly placed without a thought for future serviceability.

Being afraid of breaking things instead of just tearing into them, what would be the proper service and inspection procedure... regardless of the mystery of the other two valves, if pushing on this somehow fixes my problem i'm not going to complain obviously. My valve has a vertical handle and little else, it's not a big port just a vertical hole under there. Plus alot of horrific grime, which i'll start cleaning first obviously, just need to know what will come after...


Sorry this posting was many weeks later - my computer PSU exploded about two days after I posted the original problem and it took til now to save up some money to get back on the web. :-P
 

Last edited by PJmax; 07-07-20 at 11:40 AM. Reason: added pic from link
  #7  
Old 07-07-20, 10:51 AM
Z
Member
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Southeastern Pennsylvania
Posts: 3,099
Received 91 Upvotes on 84 Posts
I think thatís just the lid. It looks like the valve is the first in this list (and the lid is farther down the list)

Backwater Valves Archives - Canplas Industries Ltd.
 
  #8  
Old 07-07-20, 11:48 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jersey
Posts: 62,035
Received 3,415 Upvotes on 3,063 Posts
I'm still trying to understand the three "gates or doors". I've only ever seen these valves with a single door.

One thought comes to mind..... since that valve system is installed..... there must have been problems in the past. With three doors and the one on the street side not opening I'm wondering if that third door won't open because the street side is flooded and the pressure is holding it closed.

 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: