Deep Pipe Clog - Epic Battle
Hi plumbing experts,
I have a deep, deep bathroom sink pipe clog on the upstairs 2nd level in a 40 year old house and we've even had a plumber out and he couldn't fix it... in fact, he inadvertently made it worse.
My question is, how could a plumber possibly get a hold of a clog from a distance that is further away from the clog, from underneath the house, cutting in to a main drain pipe, that he couldn't get out from just a few feet away at the sink drain level where the sink is clogged on the 2nd level of the house?
SHORT BACKGROUD STORY
The water would start filling the sink after only running for about 3 seconds, then it would take overnight to drain down again. I had just started using a little plastic tub in the sink and I would just dump the water in the toilet every so often because the sink became completely non-functional.
First I tried with taking off the curved trap pipe underneath the sink and taking off the pipe that goes in to the wall to let out all the water, then I went to it with a long, strong metal snake, and I thought I got it in there for about 20 feet worth, but then when I pulled it back out I could see that the snake and just curled up inside the pipe somewhere only about 5 or 10 feet down, so that didn't do any good.
Then I put the wall pipe back on and poured some Draino into the pipe until it was full. I left that over night and that didn't fix it.
So we called the plumber out with his motorized drain rooter. He went at it for a while, rooted the drain from the wall twice, and at first he made it a little better so the water could run for about 3 minutes before it started to fill up again. So he hoped he could break the clog loose by rooting it a third time, but apparently his rooter latched on to the clog and pulled it up further in to the pipe, and now the clog has pretty much completely sealed the drain shut and it fills up immediately and never really drains out at all.
That plumber said he could see that he made it worse after first making it better and he now says he'll need to get underneath the house and torch cut some main pipe under the house and then use the same type of rooting machine to try to get a hold of the clog from beneath, but the clog and the clogged drain are on the 2nd story of this house.
So it cost me $120 to make my sink worse so it is completely non-functional now and it doesn't drain at all, and the clog is apparently closer to the drain now than it was before because it starts filling the sink immediately when I run the water at all.
So I told that plumber that I'd think about paying more to have him go under the house with his new plan.
Now, after reading some stuff on the topic, I tried taking off the trap pipe again to let out the water, then I put it back together and poured a full, large bottle Draino in the drain to hopefully get to the clog which is apparently closer than ever to the sink drain now.
Then the next day, yesterday, I plugged and covered that overflow drain hole, put a plastic bag over the sink with the plunger stick coming through the plastic bag for splash safety, and I plunged it and plunged it, still with no success getting the clog to release.
Now today, as a last ditch effort, I read up some more about it and I plugged all the other drains in the house to create more pressure, put some hot water in the sink, really plugged that overflow hole, and I plunged the holy-heck out of that drain five times with a very tight plunger seal... it dredged up some dirt and I could tell it was really creating pressure on that overflow hole while I held a wet towel in place there plugging it very tight, but the clog still won't release.
So again, to reiterate, my question is, how could a plumber possibly get a hold of a clog from a distance that is further away from the clog, from underneath the house, cutting in to a main drain pipe, that he couldn't get out from just a few feet away at the sink drain level where the sink is clogged on the 2nd level of the house?
Thanks for any help and any suggestions on how I might handle this myself, since plumbers don't have camera guided nuclear missiles to take out this kind of tough clog, which is apparently what we need here.
Thanks a lot,
Did he say anything about going on the roof and cabling?
No, this guy didn't say anything about the roof... just about torch cutting a main pipe under the house... and we don't have a basement.
This guy has a pretty good reputation, and he has the little drain rooter machine in his van, which for most people makes him look well qualified... but considering he actually made this clog worse, and he isn't willing to credit the $120 that he already collected from me for making the situation worse towards any new labor time for his under the house plan, I doubt I'll be calling him back.
But for any new plumbers that might come, would it be the way to go to go at it from under the house when the clog is now known to be closer to the drain than ever?
And what is this option from the roof that you are speaking of? Is there an outlet pipe on top of some houses that leads to some main drain, like an air inlet? I don't remember ever having seen one of those on my roof.
Try a union plumbing co.
Every house has at least one, it's a vent line. Without one nothing would go down the drains until it sucked all the water out of the traps under the sinks or toilet.
I'm totaly not getting the cutting a line with a cutting torch.
No one I know of would ever use a torch.
Any idea what the drains are made of?
He has to prove out where the clog is. There is a good possibility that the sink was never plumbed right in the first place. Has he pulled the trap? I would just cut out the trap and replace it at the stub out if thats where the clog is.
If there is a vent pipe right above the sink, yes run a snake down the vent stack. If evry other fixture is running clear, Other sinks, tubs etc, then your sink is probably clogged with grease etc etc.
Do you have a garbage disposal? Bad News.
And stop using drain cleaners!!
as for his labor charge- are you going to take your Draino back because it didn't work? Perhaps(probably) it damaged your pipes?
I charged a customer for yesterday for snaking a 2" line- it didn't help and he paid me. Went back today with a camera and found a large belly in the building drain- he paid for that service too. His floor drains still back up when he does the laundry but I made a couple hundred for my time. I don't work for free- at least I try not to :thumbsup:
some time in the near future i am going to get one of these
just for problems like this.
It's impossible to tell why he's going under house for 2nd floor clog your best bet is to call a company that only does drain cleaning they have all the tools some of them even have a little plumbing knowledge just make sure that you pay the first guy. It's nearly impossible to with pipes not exposed to tell how it was plumbed cut him slack he tried dont always get the clog with snake sometimes have to expose old pipes and replace them
Thanks for your replies guys.
Let me try to reply to each of your replies in the order that they came.
What if I told you that the guy who made the clog worse is a Union Plumber?
1) This plumber spoke of cutting the main drain pipe under the house with a torch cutter (you know, fire, it was invented a long time ago) instead of cutting it with a saw... then putting it back together with some kind of rubber grommet connector once he hopefully cleared the clog.
2) And are you asking what the drains are made of or are you asking what the pipes are made of?... big difference. The pipes are some kind of metal, not PVC, and the drains themselves seem to be made of chrome.
1) You'll have to clarify three things for me... what is "prove out"... is that plumber speak for "find"?... maybe we could stick with universal words. And if by "trap", you mean the curved trap pipe under the sink, then in my original post I spoke of me pulling the trap pipe twice and the plumber pulling it once... that's not where the clog is, thus my lengthy explanation above. And if the "stub out" is somewhere connected to the trap, like "the pipe that comes out of the wall under the sink", then I've already answered that question in my original post. I can respect the nomenclature of a profession when it is being used between two professionals, but when using it on an amateur, like me, it's just confusing.
2) My Grandfather built this house in 1973, and he was a licensed architect and contractor for over 50 years of his life, so I imagine that he either put the pipes in correctly or he hired someone to do it right, since he was building the house for his daughter at the time... this isn't a cheapo subdivision house or a condo made by a shiester property developer... but poor design and implementation is a reasonable assumption to make these days, but lets rule that out in this case.
3) I doubt the sink is clogged with grease, since it's a bathroom sink, as stated in my original post above, so the clog is most likely made of hair, dirt and soap scum hardened in to what seems to be some sort of titanium substance... other sinks are clear. And no, there is no garbage disposal in my bathroom sink, though I think Kramer on "Seinfeld" has a garbage disposal in his bathtub. I'll try to find the vent pipe on the roof above where this sink is located and ask a plumber about that option... THANKS.
I won't be using anything, including the sink, if this clog isn't cleared, and I've been able to clear clogged pipes with Draino in the past. Plumbers hating Draino may be compared to a carburetor repairman hating carburetor cleaner, since it helps to avoid going to the carburetor repair shop, but either way, you'll have to admit to yourself that people use Draino, Liquid Plumber, etc. in their pipes, and often the pipes don't explode as a result.
2) Again, torch cutting, like where a little blue flame of fire cuts metal... you must have heard of it at some point in your life... no misunderstandings.
3) I think "he needs in the crawl" to get to the pipe under the house that he thinks he can fix it from... that would be my guess. I suppose the stack and the horizontal arm is where he thinks he can reach it from, or if you were here, I'm guessing that would be your assessment of the situation.
4) Nope, not taking the Draino back, since it's in the pipes now... but the Draino didn't cost $120, nor did it make the clog and the whole situation worse. If I take my car to the carburetor repairman and he makes my clogged carburetor worse, would he charge me for that waste of time? Might he credit the charges for that time wasted toward a procedure that might actually make the situation better instead of worse?... I'd hope so, or I'd never go back to him. Same thing with a plumber. Plumbers aren't doctors who get paid no matter how much worse they make things, and doctors run the risk of getting sued for malpractice... do you? And I've never heard of a 12 year long plumber's school requirement. Glad to know you can get paid no matter the outcome of your work... in my line of work, if I don't get the job done, no one will pay me... that's the way the rest of the world works too.
That camera snake would be cool, but once I see the clog, then what?... I'd get a little sick and then I'd be back to square one.
@ joes plumbing
1) Going under the house for a 2nd floor clog seems a bit backwards to me too, but I'm not a plumber. I'll see if I can find a drain cleaning specialist... wonder if that's covered under my medical like a heart specialist is... I know home insurance won't cover it because that policy doesn't cover anything as it turns out.
2) I guess I just expect someone who takes on a job to know what they're doing based on their advertisements and their job title, but I guess that's like expecting Viagra to give me a four hour woody. In my business, no one gets paid if the job isn't done, and done on schedule. If a plumber can't fix a clog without ripping in to the walls, then the hell with it, I'd rather use the hose outside to wash my hands, brush my teeth and shave.
Any other advice?
it helps identify where the clog is and the shortest straightest route to it.
You come here for answers and confirmation and your not getting what you wanted to hear-- sorry
Most of the guys who replied to you have done the work you're attempting to describe and you seem to take issue with each of us- hmmm.
Torch cutting does cut metal but the only metal pipe you would have that can be cut with a torch is iron pipe- and when it comes to pluming drains- it would be galvanized. Trust me when I say you don't want to use a torch on galvanized pipe- it'll make you very sick. The other kind of iron pipe would be cast iron- torch is useless on it. That leaves plastic or copper- again, a torch is useless.
As for paying him- IMO, he worked the hours he should be paid You started with a clog- when he left you still had a clog. Some are not easy fixes.
BTW- I do run the risk of getting sued and I carry insurance to help protect me.
Good luck- I hope you resolve the drain problem
The problem with draino is that it seldom removes really stubborn clogs, and then it burns the hell out of the person going in there to remove the obstruction.
Torch? No. Rescue saw or sawsall, Yes.
You need someone to go down your vent pipes with a camera and find out whats going on. It is very possible that you have old galvanized drain pipe that is clogged up solid, but I would have guessed copper in 73 if your dad was a quality oriented guy, which I do not doubt. Maybe he was a holdout for Galvanized Iron Pipe, because PVC and ABS was around then.
Sorry about missing so many facts, I need new glasses.
Can you post pictures of your soil stack (The Big Main Pipe) and a couple of branch drain lines in your basement?
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