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Main drain line camera inspection


It's a 45 year old house (2 story + basement) with original cast iron plumbing. We purchased it just over a year ago and moved in about 7 months ago after doing extensive renovations.

Upstairs and kitchen drains were replaced with PVC along with upper half of the main stack. Plumbing in the basement is all original cast iron.

A few days ago the main line clogged up (for the first time in 7 months) somewhere below the main floor but above the basement drains (basement toilet, shower, sink and a floor drain were draining fine, kitchen and above - not draining at all)

After unsuccessfully trying to unclog the drain myself with a manual 25ft snake (not long enough), called a local major plumbing company. They were able to break the clog with a 30ft snake going from a second floor toilet.

As a follow-up to this service, they sent a tech with a camera today.
The only things he could see, that there is some water standing in the horizontal section of the main drain in the basement floor and that the camera would not go further. He said this is an indication of some sort of damage to the drain line, and recommended ripping up the concrete basement floor and replacing a horizontal section of the pipe.

I have 3 questions for the forum:
*Is this typical for a camera inspection to give so few specifics?
*If so, is this really an indication of a serious problem?
*If a section of cast iron rusted-through under the concrete in the basement, wouldn't remaining piping be in a similar shape? Should all of it under the basement floor be re-done to avoid ripping up the floor repeatedly in the future?


Re: Main drain line camera inspection

The guy with the camera gave you a vague assessment. Maybe that's all he saw and understood. The fact that the camera couldn't move forward is a red flag, but you want to verify it. Having a broken line is a something that you want to fix asap.

If the water is moving now, you are not under stress. Let me suggest you call at least two plumbers for estimates, hopefully you'll get guys with experience who know what to look for and how to interpret what the see.

Theoretically cast iron lasts more that 45 years, but I've seen them fail at less than 45 too. To answer your other question about replacing the entire pipe: consult with the plumbers after reviewing the camera.

Re: Main drain line camera inspection

What I question is you stated the stoppage was above the basement floor. So why are they saying your problem is under the basement floor. That is a big red flag as far as I'm concerned.

Re: Main drain line camera inspection

Thanks for the opining on the subject.

The house has at least 3 vertical drains (stacks?), with the main one (that's the one that got clogged) serving two upstairs bathrooms and the kitchen on the 1st floor.

All the vertical lines (main, laundry, guest bath) drop underneath the concrete basement floor and are joined somehow together and with the plumbing fixtures located the basement (it has toilet, two sinks, shower and a floor drain) underneath the concrete. So the clog was in the main and before any of the joins as all other drains were OK.

Right now, everything drains OK. I will call an independent plumber to get another opinion.

Thanks again.

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