Strange plumbing situation... can you help me diagnose it?

My housemate described the following situation to me: She went to get into the shower tonight and saw that there was crud in the bathtub, like something had forced dirty water up through the drain. She also noticed that the water level in the toilet was lower than expected. She rinsed down the tub and took a shower and while she was doing so, she could hear the toilet gurgling and saw bubbles coming up through the toilet water. Coincidentally, I was in the basement, underneath all of this, and happened to see a little bit of water leaking from the PVC at the joint above the p-trap. When I got upstairs, she explained what she experienced. She then went to flush the toilet and the water level raised to a full bowl but didn't drain. We plunged, and eventually the water drained to an empty bowl, but it wasn't a sudden flow like moving a large clog. I went back into the basement and tightened the joint above the tub's p-trap and also noticed a tiny bit of water had leaked out of the big pipe under the toilet. The joint is too far into the floor for me to see for certain where it came from. Does anyone have an idea of what could be happening here? I'm often a do-it-yourselfer, but this one stumps me and I am thinking of calling a plumber. Any ideas people have would be helpful. Let me know if you have any questions. Thanks! Adam
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Tree roots in the sewer drain.
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Regards
Blue

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check this out....click on the ads www.coolcay.blogspot.com
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Well, aside from the obvious -- a clog in your main drain line -- you should also go up on the room to check the vent stack, to make sure it isn't blocked by a bird nest, leaves, etc. If air can't get in, water can't get out.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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I have listened to the pipes in the basement and it sounds like there is a clog in the main pipe coming from the toilet. Based on what I have read here and elsewhere it is likely that the clog is causing the bubbling and leaking. I am deciding between renting a snake or hiring a plumber to do it and have them recommend whether to replace the 6- month old wax ring under the toilet.
On Nov 20, 3:43 am, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

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Assume this is on a municipal sewer system? If so, tree root intrusion is the most frequent cause.
If so, give city/county a call and see if they provide any help to homeowners. It varies by region, but you might be surprised.
If you decide to DIY, you may need the biggest rooter snake the rental place has. Oh, and a cleanout fitting access. It is tough work and things can and do go wrong. This is where experience comes in.
YMMV
Jim
Adam wrote:

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Adam wrote:

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Sounds like a clogged sewer line. A friend of mine had the exact same symptoms. Get a plumber before it gets real nasty. The sewerage is backing up and coming out of the tub.
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We have had the city sewer connection collapse and cause similar conditions. If you don't find a blockage in your line, get the city to check. T
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you need "roto rooter" or similar , you have a main line clog

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Adam,
Are you on a septic system or do you have municipal sewer? it sounds as if you have a clog somewhere in the system and probably not in the house. If it's a septic system then how does the leach field look et c.?
Dave M.
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if the main line has tree roots dont panic, have it snaked and then every few months (fertilize) the water with 25 pounds of rock salt, this kills the roots but leaves the trees unharmed.
salt works fast if the clog is discovered early./
I have seen partially clooged line here cleared witin a day. I have been dumping rock salt in my washtub for over 10 years, its cheap and effective, if rocksalt isnt available softner salt works too.
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re: (salt) kills the roots but leaves the trees unharmed
Curious...how does this work? How does the salt know where to top doing it's damage?
According to the document at this site: http://www.umassgreeninfo.org/fact_sheets/plant_culture/salt_damage.pdf
Salt-weakened plants are more susceptible to insects, pathogens, and the environmental stresses of drought, wind and ice. Damage can occur to plants located up to 50 feet away from a heavily salted area. You may not even see the damage until the following June or later when brown leaf margins suddenly appear as a tree endures its first stress of the season. Salt damages plants in two ways - via an airborne spray that kills dormant buds by penetrating leaf scars, and in the soil where it breaks down into its two components - sodium and chlorine - which act differently to kill the plant.
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Sooooooo, you'd rather have a clogged up sewer, than a dead plant eh? Is that what you're getting at?
s
re: (salt) kills the roots but leaves the trees unharmed
Curious...how does this work? How does the salt know where to top doing it's damage?
According to the document at this site: http://www.umassgreeninfo.org/fact_sheets/plant_culture/salt_damage.pdf
Salt-weakened plants are more susceptible to insects, pathogens, and the environmental stresses of drought, wind and ice. Damage can occur to plants located up to 50 feet away from a heavily salted area. You may not even see the damage until the following June or later when brown leaf margins suddenly appear as a tree endures its first stress of the season. Salt damages plants in two ways - via an airborne spray that kills dormant buds by penetrating leaf scars, and in the soil where it breaks down into its two components - sodium and chlorine - which act differently to kill the plant.
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I had almost the exact same thing happen a couple months back. Septic was pumped 6 months prior, but it acted like the system was full. It would dain slowly, seemed fine for the first couple showers in the morning then would be slow. I tried several different chemicals and tried snaking through every opening I could get to. Only one I couldn't snake was the main cleanout, only because it wouldn't open. Ended up having a plumper with a pressure sprayer come out. He was able to get the main clean out open and ran the pressure spray out the main line to the tank. Things are perfect now, but I had a day of hell trying to clear it myself. You trouble sounds exactly like what I had. Oil and grease build up on the out flow pipe. Good luck.
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