Sorry my first post is a plea for help, but I've got a snake stuck in my 4" cast iron sewer main. The background is I bought the house about three years ago (late 2011). The house has a 3" PVC soil stack feeding a 4" cast iron main line that runs about 60' to the street sewer. There is a large Ash tree (maybe 50'-60' tall) on the edge of the property which at its closest point is probably about 15' from the sewer line on my property. The sewer backed up about 2.5 years ago (only a couple weeks after I moved in) and I paid to have the line snaked and video inspected. At the time the plumber doing the snaking and video inspection said he thought the line was in very good condition and that the blockage could have been anything from the previous owners (my concern was obviously roots). I have viewed the video (I have the DVD) and I agree that the line looks good with no obvious degradation all the way to the street (I am involved with non-destructive examination professionally and have some knowledge of piping failure modes). Anyway for the past ~3 years I have been fat, dumb, and happy, in the perceived knowledge that my sewer is not going to give me any problems. Fast forward to last Thursday, the sewer backed up into my basement utility sink (thankfully it did not overflow) after a day of unusually heavy water usage (four loads of laundry, two showers, a load of dishes, five or so toilet flushes). Anyway, I called a local plumbing company ('Len the Plumber') who came out to the house Friday and got his snake stuck after feeling it hit an obstruction. He spent about 2 hours fighting with his snake before declaring it a lost cause and calling in the video camera. The video camera showed the snake caught in an obstruction in an area of the sewer that has two back to back elbows (the joints at the elbows are the only joints in the entire run of pipe that can be seen on the 2011 video - it occurred to me that these joints could allow root ingress). I think the elbows are both 45's - one seems to be 45 to the horizontal right and the next seems to be 45 down - increasing the fall of the sewer line. Anyway the new video didn't show anything conclusive, it almost looked to me like there was a rag down there but it could just be toilet paper caught on the front side of a root ball. Anyway, the plumbing company is basically giving up on clearing the line and retrieving the snake and wants to dig it up and replace 8'-10' of it at a cost of $8000-$10000. I'm not the type to cheap out or half-*** this type of repair but I only want to dig up the pipe as a last resort *if it's actually broken* and can't be lined (I have a strong preference for pipe lining). So I'm left trying to explore possibilities for clearing the line and retrieving the plumber's snake (roughly 30' of it) so I can have the entire thing lined (rather than only having a few feet of it replaced). The plumber who cleared the line 3 years ago used a large wheeled machine with a large snake (I'd guess it was 1.25" in diameter) and a bladed cutting tip, whereas this latest guy used a small hand carried machine with a snake diameter of 5/8" (I have measured and confirmed 5/8") and a funnel auger. Can you recommend a course of action? I have not yet paid the plumber for his work, should I withhold payment and ask the company to send another plumber (the guy who got the snake stuck was nice, but did seem to be a bit inexperienced)? Can another snake with a cutter head be placed in the line or will it tangle with the snake that's already in there? The line will continuously drain roughly the flow from one sink, is a hydro jetter a possibility? I appreciate any help you can give me.
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Snake Stuck in Sewer Main