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toilet back up need help fast !!

our downstairs toilet over flowed today. i went and snaked it after cleaning the mess then the toilet flushed fine. then it wa sin use again and backed up almost over flowing. the water goes down very slow and at times you can hear a kinda like a bubbling nosie but no sign of bubbles and the toilet does go down either. we just wait and wait for it to reside. iam hoping its not the septic tank back up. the sink in there works and drains fine. any ideas?:confused:

Re: toilet back up need help fast !!

Impossible to say from here, but here's a few possiblities -

The septic tank is full and so the water can't escape as fast as it comes in. Resolution = have the tank pumped. Don't delay if this is the cause of the problem because the longer you wait the more damage you will do to your drainfield...and that will be REALLY expensive to replace.

Related to above - Realize that a toilet dumps a relatively large amount of water in one big swoosh while a sink faucet or shower doesn't. You *may* be living on the edge, so to speak...in that the tank can still take the water at the rate the faucet puts it out, but not at the rate the toilet does.

It *might* be that you simply have a clogged vent stack for this toilet, but I kinda doubt it if it flushed properly a time or two after you snaked it. Easy enough to find out though. Climb roof, check it out with a flashlight and remove any obstructions. (That usually does it, but sometimes the obstruction can be hidden from view. Not that often though.)

Or......more likely, you may have an obstruction in the line from the toilet which doesn't effect the sink or shower because those lines join up with the main drain downstream from where the toilet does.

Or......you may something lodged inside the toilet trap. (Actually, a toilet is just a big trap with fancy water flushing capabilities.) Sometimes things like toothbrushes or kids small toys get flushed and caught inside the toilet. A snake may/can slide right past these things and leave them still in place. Then toilet paper snags on it and voilla....the toilet backs up again.

The first thing I would recommend under the circumstances is that you remove the toilet from the floor (once it has drained down completely) and see what happens if you pour about three gallons of water from a bucket quickly-ish down the drain pipe. If that doesn't back-up, do it again as fast as you can fill the bucket and get back there. Still no back-up? Do it one more time. If there is no back-up - it's a fairly good indication that nothing is seriously impeding the drain line. It would then be time to flip the toilet over or lay it on its side and have a look inside the trap. If there's something lodged in there....remove it.

If it does back-up, either there is an obstruction in the line that needs to be removed... or the tank is full and needs to be pumped. If snaking, rodding or jetting the line doesn't find or remove an obstruction which then allows the water to flow away freely, it's time to suspect a full tank and dig up the lid to inspect it.

Here's more than you really wanted to know, but may prove valuable - If you pump the tank, make sure you get a look at the outlet pipe or outlet hole of the tank while it's empty. It is possible that the outlet is obstructed with material (paper, paper towels or other matter) that will need to be removed. This is most likely to occur if your tank doesn't have a "dip-tube" type outlet but rather just a concrete barrier wall to prevent solids from getting to the outlet hole. These barriers can/will degrade over time. The top of the barrier eventually erodes down to where it allows material to pass right over it. This material can then clog/block the tank outlet. Often enough the best way to get a look at this is by lying on your chest & lowering a dig-cam inside the tank and shooting some pics. Whoever does this must hold their breath while doing so because the gases inside are highly toxic. Do not breath them!! (Sometimes a guy has to make a longer rig from a 2x2 or similar to hold the camera because the tank is too far down to reach in with just your arm. You would then set the cam to take a movie instead of pics. An auxillary light source will also be needed to do this. My rig holds a small halogen fixture attached to the same stick that holds the camera.)

PS- Never allow a tank to get so full that it backs up before pumping it. This is sure death to your drainfield. Tanks need to be pumped on a regular schedule and the timing will be primarily dependant upon the size of the tank & the number of people using it. Whoever pumps it out can tell you what size it is and will likely give you a recommendation as to how often it should be pumped. If you already know the size of the tank or wish to double-check a recommendation, you can easily Google your way to info about septic tank pumping schedules.

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