QÂ The sink and the toilet in one of our bathrooms don’tÂ seem to be draining properly, and I’ve noticed a mushy spot in the backyard, between the house and the septic tank. I’m thinking that the pipe is clogged or broken, but give me your take on this.
AÂ My take is that you’re right.
The pipe between the bathroom and the septic tank is cracked, broken or infiltrated by tree roots. Any type of sewer pipe (cast iron, asphalt-impregnated fibre or clay) can fail after decades of use, although, generally speaking, cast iron and clay are far more durable than the asphalt-impregnated fibre. There’s no easy repair. If the pipe is cast iron, you can cut out the damaged section and splice in a new piece of cast-iron pipe and no-hub fittings (fittings with large, bolt-on rubber gaskets that seal the joint and prevent leaks while maintaining flexibility). You’ll need to rent a special tool to cut the cast-iron pipe, though. The most important piece of equipment will be a soil-pipe cutter (also called a snap cutter).
If the pipe is clay or asphalt-impregnated fibre, you should replace the entire run of pipe from the house to the septic tank. Unless you’re an accomplished do-it-yourselfer, hire a plumber to do this, and maybe a couple of labourers to tackle the heavy digging.
One word of advice: if you’re brave enough to make this dirty, smelly repair yourself, be sure that no one in the house drains a sink, takes a shower or runs a dishwasher while you’re down in the hole ““ not to mention flushing a toilet.