Fixing a Sewer Issue

Over the weekend we tackled the repair of the sewer pipe to the non-functional (pink) bathroom. This bathroom is part of the original ranch portion of the house and does not appear to have been used for the past several years. The problem was being caused by a non-functional drainage line going to the sewer.

Unlike most homes that have one sewer line, this house somehow has two. The newer of the two works fine but only connects to the other two bathrooms and the kitchen sink. The sewer line that only connects to this bathroom is supposedly crushed outside the house under the front yard somewhere. Or at least that is what the seller told us.

Anyway, There is no need to have two sewer lines but there is a need to get the bathroom functioning again. Because the two lines are only 15 feet apart this was a simple problem that could have been fixed a long time ago. However, instead of fixing the problem, the previous owner decided to stop using the bathroom all together. To fix this I ran the existing line from the non functional bathroom over to the adjacent sewer line and linked it in. All of the damaged pipe and hidden Tee’s under the front yard will be removed and corrected once the winter passes and the front yard can be excavated. Yes, I did say hidden Tee’s in the yard. If you look at the photos you will notice there are no other sewer lines going out of the wall in this location. That is because there is actually a third location where a sewer line runs out of the house. That is totally wrong and will be corrected once the yard can be dug up.

There is also a plethora of old galvanized pipe that needs to be removed and replaced with copper. As time passes, all old plumbing (galvanized & cast iron) will be replaced with new PVC and copper while being brought up to code.  This project  just restored function to this bathroom by tying it in to the good sewer line and capping off the old cast iron clean out Tee that is non functioning.


The before pictures show the existing connections as they were left by the last owner. There are a lot of issues going on with them. I actually found that all the PVC by the clean out was simply dry fit and not glued together. That explains why it smelled and there were leaking waste marks coming from the bottom of all the PVC couplers.

It also looks like Dr. Seuss did the plumbing and most of the electrical work in this house. very little runs at 90 and 45 deg angles. To link up the two pipes both were cut and all the loose couplers and tees were removed from the good sewer line. A 3″ line was then run between the two at the appropriate angle to allow for proper drainage. The ejector pump was tied into the top of this line to prevent any waste from falling down the ejector pipe. Before this fix, the ejector pump simply connected to the clean out tee on the side. There was very little angle to this pipe which would have prevented gravity from doing its job.

The finished photo shows the new connection pipe in place and tested for leaks. It still need to have a few finished straps put into place to prevent sagging. Strapping will be put in place before the bathroom is put into service. The pipe was tested without any leaks. For those of you looking at the pictures, you will notice a reducing 90 deg angle tee on the top of the new sewer clean out. The 2″ opening is currently closed with a plug. This opening was put in place for the new clothes washer that will be relocated to the first floor.

Next step in updating the plumbing is to get the rest of the cast iron parts out of this sewer line. There are still several cast parts near the beginning of this sewer pipe. From the basement I can see an old cast drum trap on the bathtub, cast iron toilet flange, and several cast tees. I am guessing the venting is all cast as well. This will all be replaced as we move along. This project will be less of a Frankenhouse every time I work on it.

EDITED TO ADD: That is not a sump pump in the picture. It is an ejector pump, so this is hooked up properly.

Before 8

Dr. Seuss Plumbing

Before 1

Before: Close-up of “capped-off” connection

Before 3

Before: Close-up of dry-fit PVC

After, not finished strapping to floor joists

After: Still need to complete strapping, but cleaned up from original

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jeremy agrest

    It looks like your sump pit is connected to you sewer line. That’s a big no-no!

  • Robin

    Dr Seuss was hard at work on my Downers Grove house as well- mine is actually similar in that it started life as a 1950s ranch and then they built out and up. The center 1st floor and basement of the house is the original part.

  • Amanda

    Robin, I didn’t realize that! That was a great transformation!

  • Amanda

    That is an ejector pump and not a sump pump.