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Manuel6 11-23-2006 12:45 AM

Food backing into shower drain
I am currently remodeling our master bathroom which includes converting a shower to a tub shower and have noticed some things that may or may not be concerning. First to convert the shower to a tub/shower the shower drain needed to be moved back about 12"- not a problem. The concrete was busted up, the 2" pipe was cut and moved back the required 12" or so. If you are standing inside of the what would be the tub, the new position of the 2" pipe would on the left side of the tub box. This drain pipe makes a direct run to a T-Y Combo which is connected, of course, to the bathrooms horizontal branch drain. So far, everything seems Kosher. Now for the problem. I haven't installed the bathtub yet, so I have left the drain pipe in the tub box trapped with a stub-out that extends up about 16" up out of the dap out. I am leaving it trapped so that I don't have to plug it to prevent the entrance of sewer gases and to give me an opportunity to play with the potential final position once the tub arrives. I have noticed, however, that food is making its way into the shower's trap arm, and I wondering why??? The kitchen and the master bathroom are adjacent to each other. The kitchen's 2" horizontal branch ties into the bathroom group's drain system by way of a 3X3X2 90 degree heel inlet (yuk!). The kitchen drains through the heel. After the heel, the toilet taps in by way of 45 degree wye on its back. The shower ties in about a foot and a half down the branch by way of a wye with a 45 (T-Y combo). Now after that we go into the building drain by what seems to be a 90 degree bend (double yuk). I am not sure because I never got to see it while the concrete was busted up, but I have snaked the line and was able to feel the resistance and change of direction at the bend. From there it's a straight shot out to the septic tank. I am thinking that food might be getting stuck at or near the 90 degree bend and that there must be some water washing the food back into the shower's wye and down the trap arm. It is not a lot of food. It definitely does not even come close to being able to plug the 2" line, but I am wondering if I should be concerned. Since first discovering it, I have made it a point to run some water down the shower's drain to see if it backs up at all- and it doesn't. Am I paronoid? Or should I be concerned?

747 11-23-2006 05:30 AM

No your not being paronoid that food shouldn't be coming up that drain. But your plumber question is so extensive i don't know. Unless it need to be routed out with a little drill router.

iGotNoTime 11-23-2006 05:38 AM

It's nightmare stories like this that just make my day. Seeing something like this makes me so grateful that I have not had to deal with serious problems yet. I mean no offense by it, and do hope to learn the answers should I ever run into it. But it just makes me happy that I have not yet had to deal with things like this.

I am not a plumber (though I make claims at times) but could your trap not be big enough? Are you certain it is a plumbing issue or could it be a septic problem? Septic problems I would assume by the laws of nature would being at the lowest points such as a bath drain. Give it no attention for a few weeks/months and you may notice that the sink no longer drains too. Again I could be way off but it makes sense with physics to me.

majakdragon 11-23-2006 07:52 AM

Nothing should be "backing up" into the shower drain. You may have a partial clog that is slowing down the drainage of the line. Grease, soap and other products containing these materials stick to the inside of the drain pipes and start catching solids. This eventually forms a partial clog, which progresses into a full clog. Snaking the lines is a good way to eliminate most of the problem. Consider though, a 3/8" snake doesn't fully clear a 2" line. You may want to try an enzyme drain cleaner such as Drain Care by Zep. Enzyme cleaners cling to and "eat" organic matter. Also safe for septic systems. Available at Home Centers and hardware stores for about $8. Follow all label directions, including using hot water. To work properly, it takes 6 to 8 hours so use it before going to bed and let it do it's thing. This product will not work on tree roots.

Manuel6 11-23-2006 08:19 AM

Probably not the trap...
Thanks for your replies guys. To IGOTNOTIME: I don't think it's the trap. The trap is a standard 2" P trap. However, the septic system could be the culprit. I have only two other possibilities that come to mind. First, the leach field is getting clogged, which means that the effluent may not be able to drain completely out of the septic tank, and when the house is using a lot of water there may be a small, although temporary back-up and water is coming back up the building drain because of the backpressure....possible...but I don't think that is the case. Although, I will admit that the 8 or so loads of laundry on Sunday is probably something that we need to stop doing. Anyway, I also don't think that there is negative slope in any line. I have gone outside, opened the building drain's cleanout, and asked a helper to turn on or pour water at different flow rates down the kitchen sink, the toilet, the tub/shower drain, or all at the same time, and from the cleanout you can see that the water is draining properly and scouring at the expected rates given the change in water poured down. I really do think that the devil in the design is that potential 90 degree bend heading into the building drain. I think that large chunks of food might, once in a while, get caught in there, and cause a temporary back up. If water is still running through the branch during that back up, the pipe behind the blockage is going to fill up with water, and the backpressure will send smaller pieces of food back down the kitchen line and into the sweeping wye where the tub/shower branch arm taps in. Once the backup clears the food in the the 3" line will continue to make its way down to the septic tank once water is run again. However, the food that settled in tub/shower line, where no water is usually run, is going to just sit there. I don't know...I have done a lot of plumbing work for other people, and I am extremely cautious about every contemplated change to a system. This is the first time I have had to do work for myself, and I feel like a real ass assuming that there couldn't possibly be any major plumbing problems created before I arrived (don't you make that mistake). I should have busted up the entire bathroom, removed all the dirt and looked at the entire system. Had I seen that 90 I would have cut it out and put in two 45's instead...but 1 month and a lot of back breaking work chipping out concrete later, not to mention the fun of mixing all of the concrete necessary to fill the chipped out areas by hand, has made me a litte reluctant to start all over. It sucks...I'm going to go drink now...whoever installed that bend you should be shot with dull bullets repeatedly...just kidding...have a nice Thanksgiving :) !

iGotNoTime 11-23-2006 08:59 AM

I feel for ya and wish you the best of luck on a stable fast repair. Could you please post what you figure out? I am eager to learn on this. Majakdragon that is some very good advise I will keep it in mind!

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