clearing main sewage line (residence)

Hi -
I have just enough blockage in the house's main sewage line to cause occasional draining problems (like flushing the toilet repeatedly or water from the washing machine spin-cycle backing up). All house drains work fine and taking showers causes no problems.
My questions have to do with clearing the blockage myself. I have a one story house with a basement. The toilet drains into a large cast-iron pipe that runs straight down from the bathroom floor into the garage and then under the concrete garage floor out to the city line. The lowest point where another pipe joins this is the water exhaust from the washing machine in the basement, a couple feet above the point where the cast-iron pipe runs under the garage floor. Because the only drainage problem in the house is this washing machine line the blockage must be somewhere below it (i.e., under the concrete garage floor, etc.).
There's a cast-iron access point right where the pipe goes into the garage floor. But it looks impossible to get it open (New England; crusted over, rusted on or something). And I'm afraid of breaking something trying to get it off, requiring expensive repairs. Plus in winter time when I pull the snake out with all that disgusting muck covering it there's no way to rinse it off.
So what I'd like to know is if (foaming) Drano might work? But how to get it there with as little dilution as poosible? I thought of shutting off the toilet (it's a straight shot from the toilet to the blockage) and pouring a couple gallons of Drano in but then (I think) I remembered it's not going to go down without being able to flush the toilet. Right? What if I was able to get a couple gallons of Drano in the bathroom sink? That's the next most straight shot down the cast-iron pipe. Or what's the next best thing besides an expensive call to the plumber?
Mike
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net [one dot] verizon [cymbal] ballard [no spaces] mike [reverse the whole thing]

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Greetings,
a) Try pouring water into your toilet and it will go down once its own once it reaches a certian level. b) I have had bad luck with Drano. What if the blockage is root related, or a plastic toy? c) I would try the access point even if it looks bad. If you break it you can replace it yourself without great expense (although it might take some work if you have to break out concrete).
Hope this helps, William

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Mike Ballard wrote:

<SNIP>
Get the CO open. The big plug is almost always brass. (Scrape and see.) It probably won't unscrew. Use a sharp cold chisel to break it open, working around the inner edge. The metal should be thin there. You can just peel it open and then collapse the threaded outer edge. Or drill holes in it to get started.
Then rent a sewer snake.
Jim
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I agree with the other posters who said break into it and then repair it if it must be snaked. You might be able to unscrew it if you treat it liberally with wd-40 for a few days before you wrench it. Not likely but worth the cost of the wd.
Before you do that there are two things you can try. Don't use Drano or any other caustic drain cleaner. At the end of the day ( or the longest period of non-use) Pour 2 gallons of Clorox down the nearest drain and let it sit for as long as possible. If this opens the drain for acceptable use buy a bottle of that enzyme stuff and treat the drain on a very regular basis. Actually exceed the frequency recommendations but otherwise follow the directions.
Colbyt
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Stop dicking around and call a professional. I'm all for do it yourself fixes, but I draw the line when it comes to sifting through my own shit to save a couple hundred bucks.

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Jed wrote:

I second that. I fiddled around for days trying to clear a tub drain -- closet auger, thin snake, coat hanger, Liquid Plumber, ... . Finally, I called a "drain cleaner" from the yellow pages. Two hours and $75 later, the job was done. It was the best money I ever spent and I don't part with it easily!
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message

Lemmee tell you a short story. I have used the local rooter service twice in the past few years. Once for a block in my rental, and once for when I put a jury rigged drain into an RV hookup. The drain caught the sewage, and made a partial block. They came, and, for $100, they took out the little piece of PVC that was causing the problem.
Fast forward one month. I am having actual drain problems with my middle bath. They are coming tomorrow to clear it for free because there is a six month guarantee from the other call. Funny how things work some times.
Life has taught me that when you don't know about something that is expensive or important, it is better and cheaper to take it to a pro until you do learn how to fix it. So, I don't touch automatic transmissions, carburetors, or brakes. Or sewer drains.
Steve
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On Tue, 28 Dec 2004 13:51:39 GMT, "William W. Plummer"

You might want to look for a new "drain cleaner" because at $37.50 an hour, that guy wont be around much longer. A company driving a service van around for a living cannot charge that and stay in business. Bubba
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Bubba wrote:

I charge out at $100/hr but that is in a different area of concern. So, it was a bargain for me, not to mention the satisfaction of having the job done by a competent professional who got the job done.
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ahhhhh, the voice of reason rises from the din of insanity ................
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Or what's the

Lemmee see ............... I can call RotoRooter, and pay them $125, and watch football while they do the job. No clean up no tools. A six month guarantee.
OR
I can do it myself. Pour Drano into the pipes and eat more of them away. Push metal snakes into pipes I don't know a thing about, taking the risk of making a major break. I will not be sure if I get the clog or only make more problems for myself .................. and then having to pay a plumber some REAL dough.
Wait, wait! I know the answer to this one ...................
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have the females quit flushing the tampons - see if it clears up on its own.

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