By Jerry Walker

On Sunday, Oct. 5, 2013 one of the houses in North Ridge experienced a blockage in there sewer line. The water was in the shower and every time a little water was used in a sink it raised the water level higher. Not good.

Abacus Plumbing, across town, was willing to come to the house within an hour for $150/hr. (with a minimum of 2 hours) plus, travel time, in this case, of 40 minutes each way.


PVC pipe extension from the flapper to the surface

They showed up as promised and upon hearing the details went straight to the sewer clean-out cover in the front yard.Removing the cover, we could see a piece of PVC pipe about 6” from the surface. The technician began raising the PVC pipe and within seconds we could hear the water gushing through the drain. Problem fixed.  What he raised was a flapper device installed on the end of about 4’ of PVC pipe. The flapper device fitted into a retainer at the bottom of the pipe. It is designed to allow water to flow to the street but not return to the house – – what you might think of as a back-flow preventer in the house water system. The Technician cleaned the flapper and reinserted it. Total time on the job about 15 minutes. Total cost $310.

Flapper  with Debris

Six years of debris but no stoppage. This one has been in constant use for the six years.

The flapper was “glued shut” as it were from sewer debris. The Technician surmised that it was caused by the four months (these folks are away for the summer) of little water flowing through the pipe.

Flapper - Clean

Cleaned with a rag and hose. The yellow part is the flapper mounted to a black frame.

He also said that houses built within, at least, the last 10 years can be expected to have this device. Removing it and cleaning it is trivial. Wipe it with paper towels and rinse with the hose. The Technician’s caution was to make sure that the flapper inserted into its retainer. When I replaced ours I found that a little rotating and gentle pushing got it back in place. It’s retainer was on the house-side of the pipe coming to the surface.

Also, the DIY person must make sure that the flapper moves in the direction toward the street. Putting it in backwards guarantees water in your house, probably within a few hours or less.

The grossest part of the process was the discovery of roaches in the pipe. When the pipe was opened about 20 split for the bottom of the pipe. Perhaps, they were headed to a party.

Abacus Plumbing — E Hardy Rd. 327-6248