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Q: Frozen plastic sewer (septic) pipe ( Answered,   2 Comments )
Subject: Frozen plastic sewer (septic) pipe
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: lcharlotteb-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 29 Jan 2003 19:20 PST
Expires: 28 Feb 2003 19:20 PST
Question ID: 155070
Will liquid plumber or drano etc. melt ice if poured in the shower
into the sewer plastic pipe drain which goes into the septic tank
(iron pipe), without damage to anything and if not, what will?
Subject: Re: Frozen plastic sewer (septic) pipe
Answered By: byrd-ga on 30 Jan 2003 11:21 PST
Yikes Icharlotteb, 

What a problem.  Having grown up in north central Wisconsin, I know
firsthand only too well the horrors of frozen pipes and the like.  The
short answer to your question is no, the cleaners you mentioned will
have little or no effect on the ice.  You've got an ice blockage in
that drain that's unfortunately not going to be easy to fix.  Also, be
prepared.  Even if you can get the water flowing again, there's a good
chance the pipe is already damaged/cracked and will have to be

That said, here's a link to one of the best resources I've seen on
handling winter problems and emergencies, including severe drain
blockage from ice like you're facing.  Its title is "Keeping Your
House Operating During a Cold Alaskan Winter," so that ought to tell
you something!

If you'd like to download the document, here's the link to the .pdf

There are a number of different remedies suggested, ranging from
simple to very complex and difficult, not to mention expensive.  Of
course, the easiest thing to go would be to direct some external heat
source to the frozen pipe if you can possibly get to it at all.  A
hair dryer or blow dryer of some kind is the thing to use, NOT any
kind of heater with open flames or exposed heating elements that could
start a fire.  And certainly, do NOT use a hair dryer in or close to
that standing water.

If you can't reach the pipe itself, then probably the next simplest
thing to try first would be to pour some antifreeze ("preferably a
propylene glycol or other non-toxic antifreeze") to replace the
standing water in the shower. However, first remove as much of the
water as you can, and then use a hose or funnel or similar method to
direct the antifreeze right into the drain.  Make sure you give it
some time to work; it likely won't be instantaneous.  How long will
depend on the location and size of the block.

If neither of these is successful, then go through the list and try
each suggestion in turn.  Also, here are some additional links with
more information and things to try:

Basic plumbing repairs (including thawing frozen pipes):

Overview of plumbing systems that may help you visualize where your
blockage is:

Another site with information.  Use your brower "edit" "find" feature
to locate the part about how to "thaw" frozen

Hopefully, one of the remedies in one of these sites will work for
you, but please bear in mind that any suggestions given here are just
that, and should not be a substitute for professional assistance.  If
you have any doubts about your ability to implement any procedure, or
if there is any question whatsoever of safety, please do contact a
reputable plumber and have them take care of the problem.

Please do ask for clarification if you need it before rating/closing
the question so I can be sure you're satisfied with the answer.  Best
of luck, and
I hope your shower - and you - thaw out soon!

Subject: Re: Frozen plastic sewer (septic) pipe
From: denco-ga on 29 Jan 2003 19:45 PST
Hot water, slowly poured down the shower could be your
best bet.  This should clear out the frozen area, and
if done slowly (a steady flow of hot water) should not
break either the plastic nor iron pipe.  Just let the
shower run (slowly) with just the hot water on.
Subject: Re: Frozen plastic sewer (septic) pipe
From: lcharlotteb-ga on 30 Jan 2003 05:10 PST
Thank you for your suggestion.  I have tried to do just that (pour hot
water down the drain), but the problem is that the shower stall is
already filled with water and the water then sits in the drain and
freezes up overnight, compounding the problem.

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