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Old 12-05-2012, 08:13 PM   #16
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Need help with slow draining bathtub


OK, Kapriel, I've wet the large nut and the threaded ring with WD-40 and will let it sit overnight. Tomorrow I'll see how easy it is to remove that nut. Thanks.

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Old 12-05-2012, 08:15 PM   #17
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Need help with slow draining bathtub


No need to wait.

Try to uncsrew fittings with channel locks or pipewrench.

If it is really stuck you can wait but I'd try it now.
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Old 12-06-2012, 12:51 PM   #18
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Need help with slow draining bathtub


OK. I was able to easily remove the large nut, as well as unscrew the inner pipe (which moves up and down within the outer pipe into the drain) from the "head." But there is still not enough room on top to remove the inner pipe. Even if I was able to disconnected the horizontal supply line up top, which the inner pipe can't move past because it bumps into it when I pull it up, there's only another 5 inches of clearance up top, and from inserting coathanger wire down the inner pipe, I know it's much longer than that (perhaps 15-20 inches).

When I lowered the inner pipe all the way into the drain (as far as it would go), it worked perfectly at completely blocking the drain and no water drained out of the tub. Great, except when I did the opposite and raised the inner pipe as far as I could OUT of the drain, it made no difference in how fast water drained. That tells me that it's not an "adjustment" problem in terms of how high or low the inner pipe is screwed into the head.

Interestingly, there seems to be an "inner" tube WITHIN the inner pipe (which itself slides up and down in the outer pipe). That inner tube starts maybe a foot down or so. You can see this in one of the pics below.

Trying to get the coathanger wire through the inner tube of the inner pipe, it stopped as if it was hitting a hard bottom within the pipe. I could not get it through.

There is a little space between the wider-diameter outer pipe and the inner pipe, and I threaded the coathanger wire through there. Same thing, I hit a hard stop at the bottom (probably a "lip" which stops the inner pipe from going any further).

So, I can't remove the inner pipe, can't get through it, can't get around it. I'm stuck. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks.
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Need help with slow draining bathtub-assemblydisconnected.jpg   Need help with slow draining bathtub-closeupinnerpipe.jpg   Need help with slow draining bathtub-lookingdowninnerpipe.jpg  
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:11 PM   #19
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Need help with slow draining bathtub


Ok,

Looks like you have to remove the hot and cold pipes and tub spout.
Each one of those has a "union" fitting which is a nut that separates the two pipes.
You will have to remove the faucets as well.

It's a strange set-up but then again I'm not a plumber.
If it were me I'd undo the entire set-up and take a good look at what you have.
Tubs like this need maintenance and it's just a matter if your going to do it or pay someone else to do it but it has to be done.

It looks like a PIA but it's not that bad and once you do it taking it apart again will only take a few minutes.

I have no idea what you'll find, but you need to take it apart to have a look.

Kap
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:58 PM   #20
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Need help with slow draining bathtub


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kapriel View Post
Ok,

Looks like you have to remove the hot and cold pipes and tub spout. Each one of those has a "union" fitting which is a nut that separates the two pipes. You will have to remove the faucets as well.

It's a strange set-up but then again I'm not a plumber. If it were me I'd undo the entire set-up and take a good look at what you have. Tubs like this need maintenance and it's just a matter if your going to do it or pay someone else to do it but it has to be done.

It looks like a PIA but it's not that bad and once you do it taking it apart again will only take a few minutes.

I have no idea what you'll find, but you need to take it apart to have a look.

Kap
Thanks for sticking with me on this, Kap. Even if I removed the hot and cold pipes and tub spout (which I would be VERY reluctant to do due to the age of the pipes and my lack of experience), and the faucets, there wouldn't be enough room on top to pull the inner pipe out of the outer one. When I said there was only 5" of clearance, I meant ABOVE that horizontal pipe. There is a wooden beam there right at the top edge of the access opening. And there's way more inner pipe left in there than 5".

Failing that, if the next step was to try to disconnect that outer pipe itself, I'd have no idea how. There's not even enough room to get my head in there to see what I'd be doing.

As you say, it's either me or pay someone else, so I think I'm going to have a pro take a look. Perhaps they have some sort of specialized equipment that would make it a "snap" (relatively) to them.

Thanks again.
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Old 12-06-2012, 03:08 PM   #21
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Need help with slow draining bathtub


That's right you mentioned the height restriction. Guess what, the 2X4 or whatever is there is going to have to be cut and maybe relocated higher to allow access.

I'm not a plumber, but do all kinds of work as a general contractor on buildings 100 years old and older in New England.
I've seen a lot of odd ball stuff and yours is one of them. A plumber wouldn't think twice about cutting out the board or whatever it is and charge you accordingly.

What are you going to do.... At some point most people get to their comfort zone and after that they call in the pros. Just be careful as there may be nothing wrong with those pipes, were just taking a look see to find a hair blockage or something else.
Even if you found nothing wrong you can breathe easier knowing that the problem is not there and somewhere else.
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Old 12-06-2012, 04:29 PM   #22
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Need help with slow draining bathtub


How is the outer tube connected to the trap? Is it possible to unscrew it so you can swing it clear of the H&C valve assembly?
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Old 12-06-2012, 07:45 PM   #23
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Success! (Well, sort of). I had already scheduled a pro plumber to stop by and give me his opinion on a completely different issue elsewhere in the house, and while he was here I asked him to take a quick look at my attempt to fix the tub drain. He said the inner pipe was actually open at the bottom, and that what I had thought was the bottom of the inner pipe was actually me hitting the side of the trap pipe! So I got out my hand-turn snake and was able to snake the trap and beyond.

Unfortunately, very little came out. I did get a small clump of hair. I snaked once without the water running and a second time with it running.

It now drains only marginally better, and I'm not positive that that's not just my imagination. I was hoping for the water to whoosh down the drain after all my hard work, but I guess it's not to be.

But at least I tried, and I learned something about how the mechanism works in the process. Someday we plan to renovate our bathrooms, and at that point we'll have all the plumbing completely redone and that will be that.

By the way, I asked the pro plumber why there didn't seem to be a vent, and he explained (I hope I got this right) that what we have is a "wet vent" -- that our drain pipes are oversized so that draining water doesn't fill them up and air can run back the other way. And something about it's vented by the lav (?). He said that's the way they did it back when the house was built (1931). If that doesn't make sense then perhaps I didn't understand him properly.

Thanks very much to Kap for all of his help. I really appreciate it.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:07 PM   #24
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Sounds good to me.

My guess is that once the drain is snaked properly and all the hair and debris are gone it will work properly.
I suspect some of your blockage is from the cast iron waste pipe "Trap" and it is flaking pieces of metal and junk blocking the flow of water.

The wet vent makes sense.

As I mentioned before these things need occasional maintenance to keep on working and your probably the first one to look at it in decades.

You'll be fine once the plumber takes a look at it.

More pics of what he does would be nice for all to see.
Kap

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