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Old 09-22-2012, 04:54 PM   #1
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


The house is nearly 40 years old, and we've been living in it for two years. Our basement bathtub has always been a bit slow to drain since we moved in, but several weeks ago, it got v-e-e-e-e-e-e-ry slow (as in hours to drain a full tub).

The tub used to have a trip lever stopper, which was apparently disconnected and removed (the lever on the overflow plate is still there, but isn't connected to anything inside the pipe) before we bought the house. We've been using a rubber stopper.

I'd expected to find the usual clog of hair and gunk not far inside the drain, but didn't. Over the course of the last month, I've tried a slew of things... none of them have worked:
  • A hooked wire hanger... Nothing.
  • Plunging (with the overflow "sealed")... No change.
  • Boiling Water & more plunging... No change.
  • Baking soda and vinegar... Nothing.
  • Dish detergent & more plunging... No change.
  • Salt & Baking Soda... No change.
  • Sodium hydroxide... No change. (Note: I was very careful with using chemicals, and made sure the tub and drain were well flushed after each attempt.)
  • Wet/Dry vac... The usual silty-black pipe gunk, and some little gravel bits. No change.
  • Power snake/auger... I got about four or five feet in with it, past the u-bend, but got stuck at what feels like a sharp turn -- the vent stack, maybe? All that came out were few small tangles of hair and a couple tiny bits of of black rubbery material. Dislodged a lot more of the silty-black gunk. No change.
  • Sulfuric acid (my last resort)... You guessed it: No change.
So... Is there anything else I could try before calling a plumber? The bathroom is in a finished basement, so all the plumbing is behind walls and I'd rather not tear them open, if I don't have to.




Pb.

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Old 09-22-2012, 06:55 PM   #2
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


Not sure if this will be different from the Sodium Hydroxide (caustic soda) you used, I use this brand called "Crystal Heat" which works well for me. It too contains caustic soda (40%). Comes in the form of small blue crystal and when poured into sink/drain etc. produces a really nasty fume that will make you sick if you breath it in. So open your windows when you use it.

Normally I don't use more than 1 teaspoonful of that stuff but my clogs never get as bad as yours. Perhaps do it a few times and with more of the crystal?

Wear hand/eye protection when you use this stuff, I'm sure you know already. When I also do, is after pouring the crystal, I put a bowl over it to prevent back splash.

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Old 09-22-2012, 07:38 PM   #3
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


It could be some sort of mechanical problem with the drain under the concrete. Crushed pipe or something
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Old 09-22-2012, 10:52 PM   #4
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


What type of material is the drain pipe made of? Do you what access in order to be able to take a few pics of your set-up?
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Old 09-22-2012, 11:14 PM   #5
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


I wonder if you have a failing hubless connection somewhere when you say "tiny bits of of black rubbery material".

btw, do plumbers frequently use sulfuric acid, draino, etc?

According to Fernco Acid Resist chart (http://www.fernco.com/technical/mate...d-resist-chart), I think it can resist up to 70% conc. but I wonder what would happen to repeated exposures?
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Old 09-23-2012, 07:11 AM   #6
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


You need to remove the over flow cover and rod the line and trap from there---

At 40 years old there is a possibility that you have a drum trap (sometimes called a barrel trap) --If so you will need to find the cover plate and open it to clear the clog.

No chemicals----you will make a messy job into a dangerous one if you load the sewer with caustic liquid.
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Old 09-23-2012, 10:39 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbearbear View Post
Not sure if this will be different from the Sodium Hydroxide (caustic soda) you used, I use this brand called "Crystal Heat" which works well for me. It too contains caustic soda (40%). Comes in the form of small blue crystal and when poured into sink/drain etc. produces a really nasty fume that will make you sick if you breath it in. So open your windows when you use it.

Most chemical unpluggers use a combination of sodium hydroxide (lye) and sodium hypochlorite. The sodium hypochlorite can produce chlorine gas which is a very nasty, toxic gas. They're both highly caustic and can cause chemical burns.

I took a chemistry minor in college, way back when, so yeah... I had my rubber gloves, my face shield, my lab coat and a big ventilation fan running. And I flushed the pipes by filling and draining the tub at least three times after each attempt.

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What type of material is the drain pipe made of? Do you what access in order to be able to take a few pics of your set-up?
The drain pipe under the tube is metal -- either steel or iron, I can't quite tell which by looking at it. The overflow pipe is PVC.

I can take pictures, but they won't show much.

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Originally Posted by allthumbsdiy View Post
I wonder if you have a failing hubless connection somewhere when you say "tiny bits of of black rubbery material".
It wasn't chunks broken off a thick material... It looked more like bits cut from a thin sheet and curled. Imagine putting a cocktail straw made out rubber through a food processor and that's sort of what it would look like.

And I only found two or three pieces of a size maybe 1/16" by 1/16" or so.

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You need to remove the over flow cover and rod the line and trap from there---
Yep... That's where I went in with the auger. It went in maybe about two feet, where I could feel a turn (the u-bend?). I could could get it around that turn and another two feet or so in, and then hit a "wall" that I can't get past.

Everything up until there seems clear.

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Originally Posted by oh'mike View Post
At 40 years old there is a possibility that you have a drum trap (sometimes called a barrel trap) --If so you will need to find the cover plate and open it to clear the clog.
Yep... The problem is, I'd have to tear out drywall to look for it, if it's even there. It may come to that, but I'd rather not, if I don't have to.

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Originally Posted by oh'mike View Post
No chemicals----you will make a messy job into a dangerous one if you load the sewer with caustic liquid.
Yeah, a little too late for that. I did know what I was getting into with it, rest assured that I'll continue to flush out the pipes and if I do call a plumber, he'll know exactly what I poured down there (I saved the bottles), and when (I wrote the dates on the bottles).

Say... I noticed your signature, and realized I hadn't set a location. It caught my attention, because I also noticed you are a contractor in Kane County... I live there as well. Is there a way I can get in contact with you, should I need or want to?


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Old 09-23-2012, 07:51 PM   #8
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


You need to get 20 posts so you can PM me---I'm just north of you in St.Charles township---

Go to 'introductions' and welcome some newbies----
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Old 09-23-2012, 08:32 PM   #9
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


If you have pulled back rocks, dirt and fine bits of rubber I'm wondering if your line has a hole in it or perhaps an offset joint
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:22 PM   #10
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


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You need to get 20 posts so you can PM me---I'm just north of you in St.Charles township---

Go to 'introductions' and welcome some newbies----
Fantastic... Thanks.
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:28 PM   #11
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


Quote:
Originally Posted by TheEplumber View Post
If you have pulled back rocks, dirt and fine bits of rubber I'm wondering if your line has a hole in it or perhaps an offset joint
I'm starting to wonder the same thing... I'd probably need to send a camera down there to find out.
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Old 10-09-2012, 09:53 PM   #12
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Slow Draining Basement Bathtub...


Sounds to me like you have a crushed pipe or some other obstruction. If you get to the point where you have to call a plumber, I can highly recommend Old World Plumbing. They are located in Batavia and I have worked with them on many jobs. They will find your problem. Good luck!

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