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I have a back up in my garage drain. I mopped it up and today I returned to see the same, nasty smelling liquid had returned to almost the exact same level and quantity that was previously there. Questions/thoughts/comments? Some initial research says that it is linked into the kitchen, and use of the kitchen is what backs it up. It then Ys to the main, and the main was tested as good to the road.

I was told by one plumber that it's probably a crushed pipe seeing as I and he was unable to snake it. Should I attempt to bust the cement up and get to the trap and check it out myself? What is the level of experience needed for that?

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You're going to have to figure out what it's connected to. If it goes into your sewer, then there should be a P trap that you need to keep filled and it could be something clogged at a Y connection. If it goes to a weeping tile drain and out to the yard or storm drains, then there won't be a P trap and it could be clogged way down at the outlet in your yard and filling up because of recent storms. – BMitch Mar 29 '13 at 20:15
@BMitch I figured out today that it goes into the sewer. I tried to snake it but it couldn't get through the trap. I'm thinking about a possible alternative entry? I found another drain in the house and it is also backed up, just not overflowing. – JZeolla Apr 6 '13 at 16:07
Since it's backing up from somewhere, the garage drain trap is not the problem, it is something common to both the kitchen (if that's really the source) and the garage drain, but before the main, so between the wye and the main line. – bcworkz Apr 8 '13 at 14:56
Call a plumber to come out with an inspection camera - no point in smashing up your concrete if you don't know what/where the problem is! – Steven Apr 8 '13 at 15:59
I don't think it's the trap itself, I think it's between the Y of the garage drain and kitchen, and the y with the main. @Steven the issue with that is that it's full of muddy water, I had a plumber come out and he tried to snake it too and failed, and when I asked about a camera he said that would work only if I could remove the water. – JZeolla Apr 8 '13 at 16:36
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I question whether busting up the concrete right away is the correct thing to do, it seems a bit premature to me. I would try to get a camera with a locator down there so you can at least get an idea of where the sewer goes and then break up a localized section of concrete if the image is too poor.

Most of what is required to do this is just manual labor - busting up the concrete and hauling it away, and then digging until you get to the sewer - could be a few inches or several feet deep and your concrete is probably about 4" deep.

You would most likely want to rent a jackhammer from your local tool rental.

Assuming it was a crushed pipe, you'd need to remove the old section and replace it. You don't mention what the sewer is made of, but this might involve cutting and gluing PVC, or be more complicated and involve connecting different types of materials like clay or cast iron to PVC (as the patch). Each one of these would be a good candidate for a new question.

You'll need to be mindful of any other buried utilities and if it is clay, expect to find some tree roots (sometimes really big ones!).

Definitely DIY-able but be prepared for a lot of back breaking work, and assuming the backup doesn't drain on its own (usually some liquid can still move), a lot of filthy sewage water. Make sure you take precautions to protect yourself - gloves, eye protection, mask, rubber boots.

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I did ask if it would be worthwhile to do a camera, but it is filled with very muddy water and when trying to snake it we only get about 4 feet in before we hit a wall of mud. I'm not sure what the pipe is made of - but that part is going to go to the plumber because I don't want to risk messing that up. I'm just trying to lessen the cost. Also, it is clay under the house. =( – JZeolla Apr 9 '13 at 12:12
I had a similar situation - was constantly having backups. Turned out to be a large root wrapped around the pipe that had shifted it about an inch. The clay pipes just insert into each other, they are not that secure so they move easily. Had to rip up large amounts of concrete and replace with PVC. Took 2-3 guys 2 days to complete, and then another day for someone to redo the concrete. I'm glad I didn't do it myself! – Steven Apr 9 '13 at 13:17

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