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Washing machine drain pipe backs up

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Drain pipe apparently cannot handle the volume of water being expelled from the washing machine before the spin cycle.  The pipe over flows when draining from a large load and the kitchen sink also backs up.  I tried the off-the-self chemical unclog products and snaking from the drain access outside, but I still have to be vigilant to avoid cleaning up a huge watery mess.  Could it be a clogged vent pipe, and if so, how do you unclog one of those?  Thanks in advance for any wisdom on the matter you may impart. 
P.S.  The house is only about twenty years old and there are no tree roots to encumber the PVC pipes.
asked in Plumbing by roger9903 (120 points)
edited by darekrudy
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1 Answer

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Hi Roger,
 
Is this something that never happened before? How is your laundry & kitchen positioned, does the kitchen sink and the laundry machine discharge into the same drain pipe / next to each other? 
 
Did you try to use your plumbing snake line from the washing machine / kitchen side? The problem might be close to those two areas, not necessarily treatable from the exterior cleanout.  
 
Do you have access (visual) to the plumbing pipes in the kitchen / laundry area or everything is hidden inside the floor / wall? If you can see it, describe the connections or (if possible) take a picture and email it to me. 
 
Assuming that both (laundry & kitchen) areas are using the same plumbing vent pipe... it could be clogged with some debris, birds nest, beehive, etc. (unfortunately it would be accessible from the roof). However, it would most likely cause gurgling noises and water backup with smaller amounts of water as well; plug the sink, fill it up with water and remove the plug to see if it is draining without any problems.
 
Try to answer my questions to the best of your knowledge, just click “comment” below, thanks.
answered by darekrudy (21,730 points)
1.  Has this happened before?  **Yes, about this time last year.  Is this
weather related?  Maybe, I don't know for sure.  I live in the Dallas area,
so our winters are usually no big deal.  It's been in the twenties a couple
of mornings times this year, that's about the time I started experiencing
the problem again.  These haven't been hard freeze's though, and we don't do
wash at night and our days always remain in the 40's and above, so I don't
think anything could be frozen.
2.  How is your laundry & kitchen positioned, does the kitchen sink and the
laundry machine discharge into the same drain pipe / next to each other?
**The drain for the washing machine and the sink are twelve feet apart.  I
think they do discharge into the same pipe.  Viewing the water from the
cleanout access outside, I see the water from the sink coming from above and
the water from the washer backing up from below.  Yes, when the cleanout cap
outside is off, the water comes out through there instead of backing up into
the sink.  I poured chem down there and snaked it too.  I tried to snake the
washer drain but couldn't get it to turn the corner about three feet down.
Poured chem down there too.
3.  Do you have access (visual) to the plumbing pipes in the kitchen /
laundry area or everything is hidden inside the floor / wall? If you can see
it, describe the connections or (if possible) take a picture and email it to
me.  **Pictures attached.
My big brother told me that the best way to clean out a vent pipe is to
flush it out with a garden hose.  But then, he may have been lying his ass
off to me again.  He's like that.  Get his kicks that way.
No gurgling noises when the kitchen sink drains.  I have noticed that I do
have to run the garbage disposal once or twice a day to keep the drain
moving along.
...