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The previous owner of our house tiled the main bathroom before selling the house and flushed the grouting down the toilet. This caused the pipes to become blocked. We've had to break down some of the wall downstairs, cut open the pipes and try to remove the hardened grout, however, it seems that some of the grouting went below floor level and hardened there.

For the minute, we've closed the family bathroom until we decide how to fix it!

We are on a tight budget and not hugely experienced DIYers.

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    Does your house have a full basement, crawlspace, or slab on grade? Is there a floor drain or cleanout plug you can access? Jan 3 '15 at 23:37
  • The pipe that is below the floor: Is it accessible or will concrete have to be removed to get to it?
    – wallyk
    Jan 4 '15 at 3:39
  • I'm afraid we don't have access, it is a concrete foundation, no basement and it appears no way to access the pipe other than dig it up from under the concrete.
    – Tina
    Jan 4 '15 at 10:40
  • I've removed the part of the question that asked about insurance claims, as this site is a do-it-yourself home improvement site not a site that offers legal advice. If you're interested in the legal aspects of this problem, please contact your insurance company and/or a lawyer.
    – Tester101
    Jan 7 '15 at 12:52
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This is really a comment but too long -

I am not sure of your exact situation but normally if something like this happens you call your real estate agent, police, and bank. You need to file a police report, your real estate agent needs to get a hold of seller's agent (who is ultimately responsible in most states), and you need to talk to bank about freezing any money if you can. It might be too late for this but I don't know. But whatever it is the previous home owner (if can be proven) has committed a criminal act. Not taking action right away hurts your case.

There is no magic to get rid of stuff like grout in pipes. First any serious chemical I might suggest may damage the pipes. Second I am not even sure it is grout in your pipes - it could be various types of cement or thinset too... Then I am not sure to what extent the material got in. This could go all the way to the street which may cost a lot of money - I have seen a similar scenario run home owner 15K done cheaply.

Also most insurance companies don't cover criminal acts that aren't reported. But the issue you have here is that this probably happened before you officially had insurance (that is why I mentioned getting agents involved). If you have some sort of new home owner's insurance that might cover it but they will basically be going after the previous owner for you.

Right now you need to file a report, take a TON of pictures and video and have a plumber come out. You can't start hacking everything up or you are making it worse. The plumber will be able to scope the line to see what the extent of damage there is ($200-300 tops). The last thing you want to do is repair something incorrectly or cause more damage (overflow) and have it blamed on something you have done.

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    For more background information; We are in the house too long now to take action regarding the previous owner. The issue only became apparent after 4 years. The drains were always very slow in that bathroom, but when we got a clog that's when we found out about the issue. When we spoke to neighbours to find out more about the quality of the builders, that's when one neighbour who had been good friends with the previous owner told us what he had witnessed. We have a concrete foundation, no basement.
    – Tina
    Jan 4 '15 at 10:38
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    "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity." <g> Jan 4 '15 at 15:23
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    :) Yes Pete, totally agree. I think previous owner fell out of the 'Stupid Tree', and hit every branch on the way down.
    – Tina
    Jan 4 '15 at 16:08
  • @Tina - If you have a witness to this you still have things you can do - I would still contact your agent. Concrete in the mainline stopping up the bottom 1/3 will eventually cause everything to fail. If it is PVC you can scrape and hammer drill it with an auger and hope it breaks up. Still potentially a few thousand dollars.
    – DMoore
    Jan 4 '15 at 19:36
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This is a tough one. Depending on where you live and the age of the house means theres different code. What is the pipe made out of. Cast is code here in Chicago.

Access the pipes first. You may even be able to rent one at Home Depot or where ever. Take notes on where in the pipe is affected.

More than likely your going to have to R&R (Remove and Replace) the pipe... no rodder will knock that off cast iron pipe that's for sure..

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When it's accessible it seems sugar is a an option to weaken set grout. If there is flow in the under floor pipe i would try some warm water and a sack of sugar - followed by some pressure or emptying of a bath tub after some work time. This suggestion is not based on any experience - just a guess at what i would try.

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    Never heard of sugar as a solvent for grout. Where did that idea come from?
    – wallyk
    Jan 4 '15 at 3:39
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    Sugar solution works while concrete is setting to produce exposed aggregate surfaces as properly applied, it stops a thin layer of Portland cement from hydrating so it can be washed off, but I've never seen it used as a means of dissolving or weakening mortar after it's set. I'll have to test that out next time I have need. Jan 9 '15 at 2:19

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