Strange gurgling sound and backing up

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Old 12-29-13, 02:46 PM
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Strange gurgling sound and backing up

Ok guys, not very familiar with plumbing here. My old house (built in 1947) has one kitchen sink, one toilet, one bathroom sink, one bathtub and a washing machine. That is the entire plumbing system in the house.

Recently it has started gurgling and the sinks have some times not wanted to drain. Usually after a few minutes you would hear it bubble and then drain. This morning my wife was watching dishes, washing clothes and I used the bathroom sink. Within a moment the toilet, bathroom sink and bathtub all backed up and flooded the bathroom.

I went and got a ladder and ran my garden hose down both vents (the stacks on the side of the house, one is large and one is small) and both accepted water easily but both caused a little bit of a backup into the toilet and bathtub. So it's not the vents.

I just ran through 4 large bottles of Draino but it still seems like everything is not draining properly.

Even more strangely is that when I went outside this morning (right after the flooding of the bathroom) I noticed water in my carport at the front of my house. It's like the back-up somehow flooded the underside of my house (which almost always has a pool of water since we have such a low water table around here and it rains so often).

How could this happen? I live in a city suburb. Shouldn't the giant cast-iron pipe under my toilet be connected directly to the city sewage? It almost seems like a full septic tank but there is no way. Our yard has no access to any septic tank and I just can't imagine a house in the city having a septic tank, I've never heard of such a thing.

Ideas? At this point I am at a loss, but there is just no way I can possibly afford a plumber right now (or any time in the next few years realistically), we are transitioning from a dual-income to single-income family and it's just not possible.
 
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Old 12-29-13, 07:25 PM
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It could very well be on a septic tank, but let assume it's not.
#1 Drain cleaners should not be used. Now your stuck having to try and fix this with a toxic, caustic liquid in the drains.
Sounds like the main line is plugged up.
Under the house there should be a clean out. It's a removable pipe plug, most likely it's in a tee.
Plug needs to come out and run a snake down the drain.
One of those small snakes is not going to cut it.
Going to need at least something like this.
drain snake - Bing Images

That old a house tells me cast iron pipes, may have just terra cotta, or Orangeburg lines out to the street.
All of which tend to clog up, crack, collapse, roots get in them.
 
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Old 12-29-13, 08:41 PM
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Well the Draino was the "cross your fingers and pray" attempt since we REALLY can't afford to hire a plumber (or even buy the necessary parts) to fix this.

Knowing nothing at all about plumbing I have to assume that since some of the water/solution was bubbling through the ground that the pipes MUST be broken right? I mean, it's supposed to be a sealed system correct? Let's just say there's a blockage in there somewhere, it still shouldn't be bubbling up through the ground unless something is actually broken right?
 
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Old 12-29-13, 09:35 PM
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That's correct. Sorry about that.
 
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Old 12-30-13, 09:13 AM
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Or you ARE on a Cesspool that is filled to the very top.
 
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Old 12-30-13, 10:03 AM
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I second the recommendation to never use any pour down the drain cleaners. I have never seen them work and I consider them a waste of money and they create a hazard for anyone working to clear your drain lines.

The easiest way to tell if you have a septic system or not is to look at your water bill. If there is a sewage fee than you are probably connected to city sewer. If you don't have sewer broken out on your bill or don't get a water bill at all then it's a good chance you have a septic system of some type.

Do you have a crawl space under your home? If so go under with a flashlight and look for where your drain lines exit the house. Then at least you will know what direction things are heading.

It sounds like you have a clog & broken/leaking pipe. Unfortunately there is no $2 fix. Often a drain will break or develop a leak. Dirt, roots and other debris can then easily clog the line. Since it's still buried underground much of the waste stays underground but some can make it's way to the surface. And, if you put more down the line than can seep past the clog it backs up and eventually spills out of the lower fixtures in the house.

You did not provide your location but depending on the niceness of your city you can call them and have them jet the line from the city side. They can confirm if the problem is on your side of the curb or theirs and will often jet past their responsibility and clear your clog for free, especially if you're around and nice when they come by. Worst case they will say "we don't do that" or "we cleared our section so the clog is definitely your responsibility".

Still, your financial situation is inconsequential. Major house systems need maintenance and repair and in almost every case putting it off makes things worse and more expensive. Houses don't magically heal when things go wrong. They must be fixed. Luckily drain lines are not rocket science so they can usually be fixed economically if you're willing to put in the work.
 
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Old 12-30-13, 10:52 AM
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I love that the fact that "I can't afford it" is "inconsequential". Well it's NOT to me and my family. Sorry to vent but I can't afford a $50 fix right now let alone the no-doubt hundreds/thousands a plumber will cost.

I have called one this morning and am waiting for them to get here but I honestly have no idea how I am going to pay them. My family is transitioning from two to one incomes and money is extremely tight right now. I have no wealthy relatives (I have more money than the vast majority of my dirt poor family), so I'm just crossing my fingers that it won't be too insanely expensive to fix.

Thanks for the info guys. I will update when I know more.
 
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Old 12-30-13, 12:05 PM
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I only say inconsequential not to be mean but how much money you have does not matter to the drain. It's still got to be fixed regardless. Believe me I know about dirt poor repairs. A lot can be done with an old inner tube and a few coat hangers...

Are you in a city? Did you call a plumber or the city to come check their lines?
 
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