Toilet tank does not get water and shower does not drain

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum' started by Emac, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. Jan 9, 2014 #1

    Emac

    Emac

    Emac

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    We bought the house about 2 months ago and we are still learning about septic tank and all that. 2 days ago we noticed that after we flushed one of the toilets the tank was not geting any water( but there is some water in the bowl). My hubby checked something at the botom of the tank where the pipes are and he said that everything seems ok. Today we noticed the shower in the same bAthroom was not draining at all. All the other toilets and showers seem ok, so far. The only diference is that the pipes for the toilet and shower with the problem, go through an outside wall that was exposed to cold weather and very cold winds and they are the closest ones to the septic tank. Do we have a frozen pipe or a cloged sewer drain?
     
  2. Jan 9, 2014 #2

    bud16415

    bud16415

    bud16415

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    I take it that it was working fine and then with the cold weather both problems started. Around here we had temps around -10f for several days this week and I have never heard of as many frozen pipes as I did this week before. So there is a good chance that’s what you have. If the drain pipe has frozen chances are when it thaws it will be ok but they also can leak after. Pressure lines can burst when frozen and you may have to get in that wall to repair. The fact that two different problems happened for you at once seems to make me think it was cold related. You might want to think about what you can do to prevent it from happening again also.
     
  3. Jan 9, 2014 #3

    Emac

    Emac

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    You're right, everything was working until the cold started. It's weird thou that the shower has a draining problem, not runing the water, and the toilet has the problem with water not filling up the tank. Is it posible that they froze like that, the oposite, for one water coming in , for the other one water going out? My husband was thinking to put some hot water down the shower drain, also in the toilet bowl and tAnk. Would that work or make it worse?
     
  4. Jan 9, 2014 #4

    bud16415

    bud16415

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    Hot water down the drain shouldn't hurt just a little. There is a trap down below the drain so the hot water would have to make its way down the pipe to the frozen spot and without any movement it might not go to far. Now if it was going down slowly and you added hot it should melt fairly fast. Putting hot in the toilet bowl won't do much. You can do that to get it to flush but that drain might be the same frozen drain as the shower. Are they expecting it to get above 32 f where you live soon. It will take some time even then to melt. If you can get at pipes a hair dryer might hurry things along.
     
  5. Jan 10, 2014 #5

    nealtw

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    Frozen pipes and drains can burst anly leak when they thaw out so be sure you know where the main shut off valve is for the water. Add some more heat to the bathroom or the pipes below if you can. This can get messy in a hury. Good luck and welcome to the site.
     
  6. Jan 10, 2014 #6

    Emac

    Emac

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    They are both working fine now, without any help from us. The toilet started working with a flushing noise, then the tank and the bowl filled up with water. We had a little bit of water on the floor that was leaking from the pipe in the back, from a "valve" that my husband will change. About an hour later the shower started draining from the water. We did not see any water anywhere, we even listened to sound in the walls. It seems we are ok, thank God.
    Thanks everybody for the advice.
     
  7. Jan 10, 2014 #7

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    I've heard of thawing copper pipes by running a heavy current through them, like from a welder. I don't know if this technique is an art or a science but it may be a good option if the pipes are mostly not accessible.

    For our pipes in an exterior wall under cabinets I opened up the drywall and put insulation between the outside wall interior surface and the pipes.
    Closing the drywall will shift the pipe temperature somewhat back into a colder direction.
    On cold nights we open the cabinet doors.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2014
  8. Jan 10, 2014 #8

    bud16415

    bud16415

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    It will happen again if the temp drops again like earlier in the week. Wuz is correct about insulation and trying to get some heat to the pipes. I wasn't too keen on the welder idea but it could work if someone knew how to do it. We brought a crew in to freeze a 4 inch line under pressure in our shop that had no shutoff they froze the pipe with nitrogen and then removed a piece and welded in a tee and valves. When the two ice plugs melted water started flowing. So nothing is impossible.

    Glad we could help a little but take the warning and do something as next time you might not be as lucky.
     
  9. Jan 10, 2014 #9

    nealtw

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    If you can't do anything to prevent this inthe future when it gets really cold, adjust the toilet so a little water is running all the time. and let the shower dribble a little water. Running water does not freeze.
     
  10. Jan 10, 2014 #10

    bud16415

    bud16415

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  11. Jan 10, 2014 #11

    nealtw

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    Ya, no, the spay will freeze the river can freeze over but the water still runs.
     
  12. Jan 10, 2014 #12

    CallMeVilla

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    NEVER put hot water into a toilet. It can crack the porcelain. I saw this happen when a newbie plumbed the hot water line into a toilet ... CRACK.

    Resign yourself to living without those devices until the weather warms. In the Spring, explore your house and solve the cold air issue so your pipe do not freeze every year.
     
  13. Jan 10, 2014 #13

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Was the toilet at room temperature, so the change was from 72F to >120F in a short time?
     
  14. Jan 10, 2014 #14

    bud16415

    bud16415

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    All water freezes at 32 f 0 c at sea level moving or not. When you leave water run the fact that it is running means its above 32f by volume of water in the pipe is increased with relationship to movement so the cold source is constantly cooling new water that’s at an elevated temp. Most wells will bring in heat from the earth in the water and be around 50f.

    Lay out a mile of copper tubing outside when the temp is -10f and the incoming water is 50f and it will cool as its moving and at some point will cool to 32f and at that point the flow will stop. Running water can’t freeze because as soon as it does it’s no longer running.

    Neal’s advice is good and will work in slowing down the freezing process. Long term Villa’s advice is the thing to do if you can.
     
  15. Jan 10, 2014 #15

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    You could also probably rent some machine that pumps hot air into the wall through a small hole when you are at risk of freezing due to low outside temps.

    Then the tradeoff becomes, How much is your occasional inconvenience worth?
     
  16. Jan 11, 2014 #16

    nealtw

    nealtw

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    I grew up in a house with no insulation and no furnace, plumbing in outside wall. Heat on main floor was a wood stove light in the morning. water would freeze in basement. We never had frozen pipes and guess how we did that.
     
  17. Jan 11, 2014 #17

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    Inside temp cancelled out outside temp enough so the pipe temp stayed above freezing?
    Water was run often enough to get warmer water into the pipes from the city water or well?
    What warm air there was in the house rose up from the basement?
     
  18. Jan 11, 2014 #18

    bud16415

    bud16415

    bud16415

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    Well it sounds kind of rustic. My guess is you added moonshine to the well.
     
  19. Jan 11, 2014 #19

    Wuzzat?

    Wuzzat?

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    I doubt it.
    http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen01/gen01174.htm
    and, maybe,
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirming_the_consequent
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2014

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