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Recently out toilet has started to repeatedly block. First thing we tried was the warm water method, which worked at first.

When that stopped working, and problem came back, we used caustic soda. This solution worked for a good couple of weeks, but the problem has again come back.

This morning, as I was clearing the toilet is preparation to use the the caustic soda techniques, I noticed a glugging coming from outside the bathroom. I went outside, to see my dirty toilet water being spilled over the patio. An unpleasant site so early in the morning, I think you'll agree.

Other symptoms that may help someone diagnose are that the all the waste pipes, from the kitchen and bathroom, seem to make the toilet glug at times, and this is usually a sign that the toilet is about to start slowing down.

Any ideas on what the problem is or what I can do about it? Should I use caustic soda on the outside drain?

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The water that's spilling across your patio: is it coming out of your outside drain? If not, where is it coming from? Are you on a public sewer or a septic system? –  Mike Powell Dec 8 '10 at 16:30
    
It is coming from my drain, but only when after I clear the blockage in the toilet. If the toilet is going slowly, then the drain overflows. If the toilet is fine, the drain is fine. –  Mild Fuzz Dec 8 '10 at 23:00
    
When the toilet is slow, is everything else slow too? –  Mike Powell Dec 9 '10 at 1:35
    
is the septic tank full or clogged? do you have a septic tank? –  Joel Spolsky Dec 9 '10 at 3:38
    
@Mike Powell, not sure. Currently, it's not slow, so I can't test. I'll be sure to investigate. –  Mild Fuzz Dec 9 '10 at 9:54
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3 Answers

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Your first step should be to try to divine where in (or outside of) your house the blockage is. If your outside drain is overflowing you know the blockage is downstream of that, so if that drain is teed off the main waste line coming out of your house, you know you've got a block between the drain and the sewer or septic tank. If that's the case the most likely culprit is tree roots growing into the pipe, a problem that's not uncommon if your pipe is old and made of clay. If your house is newer you may find a cleanout port outside you can snake to try to clear any blockage.

If the outside drain is plumbed into your basement or crawlspace then you should look for cleanout ports down there too. However if all the drains in your house work slowly at the same time, then your problem is likely still outside the house.

Given the seeming interconnectedness of your issues, my gut tells me you've got a blockage that's outside the house, and it's affecting everything. Your toilet is probably stopping up because of the low water flow -- if the liquid's not flowing out of the toilet quickly enough there's not enough force to effectively push the solids out, and you get a block.

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If you have waste water from the toilet spilling across your patio, you need professional help as soon as possible.

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While it's possible this is true, it's not exactly a helpful answer on a site intented to give DIY info. –  Mike Powell Dec 8 '10 at 16:32
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I agree that DIY to one person may not be to another. However, I think some things are beyond DIY. When you have raw sewage flowing across your patio, it is not the time to learn some plumbing. –  aphoria Dec 8 '10 at 19:50
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The OP wants to learn. This answer tells them - "Don't bother learning, you can't do so." Instead, an answer than helps to explain and understand is consistent with the aims of this site, and is preferred to an answer that provides no understanding at all. –  user558 Dec 10 '10 at 10:48
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I'm all for learning. Look at it as learning when to call a professional. The point is, in some situations you need to get it fixed and THEN learn about it. He says he has raw sewage flowing across his patio...that is not something you take your time learning about! –  aphoria Dec 10 '10 at 11:47
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Plumbing has a risk of contaminating public water supplies with fecal matter. You don't want to be responsible for getting an entire block sick (or potentially dead). If this becomes a possibility, that's a good flag for when you should stop DIYing and call in a professional. –  Alex Feinman Jan 3 '11 at 18:14
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It might be useful to rent a fiber optic pipe camera. I've actually seen them at the local home store, but at several hundred dollars, they aren't super affordable. Try snaking this camera in at the toilet, or at the drain

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you might want to check plumbers who advertize free video checks, if you agree to get blockage repaired byu them. –  HerrBag Aug 8 '13 at 11:54
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