There are some plumbing issues at Chez Boca (sometimes, the water backs up into the bathrooms) that have required some trained intervention to fix, although now we can pretty much manage the situation. But still, it happens just often enough that we felt it required a bit more investivation.
So we called Johnson Plumbing & Air (disclaimer: I know the owner, and am good friends with the owner's son) to take a look. They arrived today with their PipeCam™, a specialized plumber's snake with a small flashlight shaped camera (and lights) on the end.
Considering the age of the house (built in the early 70s) and the material of pipe (cast iron), the pipe appeared to be in decent shape, and it wasn't quite as nasty as I expected it to be.
The PipeCam™ made it easy to isolate which branch of the plumbing had issues. They snaked the camera from an access point next to the front door up into the house. At the first junction, they had Bunny turn on the garage sink to confirm that branch of the plumbing. At the second junction, a four-way intersection, it was easy enough to test the master bathroom (left branch), the kitchen (straight ahead) and the guest bathroom (right branch). The water came quickly from the master bathroom and kitchen, while the water from the guest bathroom took its own sweet time to come though carrying a large wodge of bathroom tissue (splat—“Eeeew!”).
And they were able to locate the junction inside the house with the use of this odd looking gun:
They pointed it towards the ground and based on the sounds emitted, they could locate the camera and even tell the direction the camera was pointed in. It's a pretty cool setup.
The upshot—there's a dip in the pipe from the junction to the guest bathroom where water (and … um … “particulate matter”) accumulates. If too much … um … “particulate matter” accumulates, you get a blockage. The best solution, which does not involve tearing up the floor of the family room, is to run new pipes around the outside of the house to the main sewer at the street.