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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey guys;
I've got a bathtub that is running slow, and I know the clog is not in the trap; it is farther down the pipe, which unfortunately runs horizontally under the floor across the bathroom to where it finally reaches the stack and merges with the drain from the sink.


I would like to try a DIY drain cleaner such as baking soda & vinegar + salt? but not sure it would work for a clog that is deeper in the pipe. Obviously, for any liquid drain opener to work, it needs to completely fill the trap and run into the pipe far enough to reach the clog. That could mean pouring a gallon of white vinegar down the drain. I don't have much of it in the house right now.


I do have a 1/4in snake with a hand crank. It's 25ft long, and should be long enough to reach the clog, but...
Every time I have tried using the snake, opening the stopper lever plate (I know it has a real name) and inserting the snake into it, the snake turns the wrong way and ends up in the tub drain instead of going out into the trap and beyond.
I have tried inserting the snake through the drain, but it will not fit. This drain has the cross inside where the screw thread for the strainer is, but the openings are just too small for the snake to get through.


We have called a drain service in the past, and with their high-speed snake are able to get around the tee and through the trap.
Perhaps with enough attempts I can do the same with my manually operated snake.


I would just call the drain guys, but am trying to save the $100 it will cost.


Any suggestions?


Thanks
Ultrarunner
 

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Have you tried a plunger? I would try plugging the "stopper lever plate/vent hole thingy" with something, fill up the tub, and then start going to town with the plunger.

Hopefully the plunger will get the process started, then you can quickly remove whatever you used to plug the "stopper lever plate/vent hole thingy" and the volume of water from the tub will help clear it the rest of the way and flush through whatever was plugging it.
 

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Have you tried a plunger? I would try plugging the "stopper lever plate/vent hole thingy" with something, fill up the tub, and then start going to town with the plunger.

Hopefully the plunger will get the process started, then you can quickly remove whatever you used to plug the "stopper lever plate/vent hole thingy" and the volume of water from the tub will help clear it the rest of the way and flush through whatever was plugging it.
Agreed. I would try this first with enough warm/hot water to cover the plunger. But plugging the vent hole completely is critical. And air moving through it will negate all your efforts.

And if you don't already know, the main effect of the plunger is in the 'pull', not the 'push'.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks guys; I'll try the plunger first. Now to find something to plug the 'stopper lever plate thingy hole'. If I can find a piece of rubber that i could place between the stopper lever plate and the tub, then screw the plate back on?? I seem to recall doing that once before.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I tried the plunger, but it did nothing. I thought I had the overflow pretty well sealed up. I think the clog was too far down the line for the plunger to work.
I next poured a tea kettle full of boiling water down. That may have improved it just a tiny bit.
I tried my 1/4in snake, but could not get it to make the turn at the bottom of the overflow pipe, and when I attempted to shove it into the drain, it kept coming up the overflow pipe.


I was about to give up and call the pro, but then I had another idea.
If I could flush hot/very warm water at some pressure into the drain, perhaps I could force the clog to break up and move down the pipe into the stack.
So I connected the garden hose to the laundry room tub where I can get hot/warm water, and ran the hose up the outside of the house and into a 2nd floor window to the bathroom.


I did the flushing with very warm (not hot, as I wasn't sure what would happen to the hose if I ran hot water through it) by applying the hose (with nozzle) into the drain and the overflow sealed.
I wrapped a rag around the hose where it entered the drain to keep pressure in the drain.
I flushed in this manner for a couple minutes, and repeated several times until the drain was running pretty well. At first, the water was trickling out of the (sealed) overflow pipe, but after several flushes, that flow began to ebb and finally disappeared once the pipe was opened enough to keep it from backing up into the overflow.
So now, the drain is running pretty well. Not perfect, but then I don't know whether it has run really well for quite some time. I suppose that a professional cleaning would be recommended.


I recall many years ago when I would unclog this same drain by disconnecting the trap and attaching a fitting to the pipe so that I could connect the garden hose. This allowed me to flush under some pressure. It worked quite well.
More recently, the iron pipe has begun to deteriorate, and we had a plumber replace a short section with PVC, as well as a new trap.
He used a rubber coupler to connect the PVC pipe to the old iron pipe.
I have on a couple of occasions removed that coupler to push my 1/4in snake into the pipe. That worked, but the snake is really too small to open the pipe fully. I think it's 2in pipe.
I have tried to get my 1/2in snake into the pipe, but since the snake does not have any method of rotation, I was not able to get it very far.


Like I said, we really need to get the professional with his motorized snake. But with the pandemic, I hesitate to bring anyone into the house. That said, the drain guy is working, and I'm sure he has a protocol for doing the work. I'm sure we could make it work.
 

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When you put the snake into the overflow don't feed it way out. Feed it so that the front of the casing is only a couple of inches from the opening....then crank it until you feel it make the turn. Then feed it a little more. When you hit the next stop point make sure the front of the casing is a couple of inches from the opening. Crank again until it makes the turn.
 

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^^^ this. The more play you give the snake, the more likely it is to just bend and twist in place. You want as little play as possible—basically inch the snake out of the housing, and keep the housing as close to the opening as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
When you put the snake into the overflow don't feed it way out. Feed it so that the front of the casing is only a couple of inches from the opening....then crank it until you feel it make the turn. Then feed it a little more. When you hit the next stop point make sure the front of the casing is a couple of inches from the opening. Crank again until it makes the turn.
That is exactly the method I used. I made at least four attempts, but each time the snake snagged when attempting to push it into the overflow pipe. When I tried into the drain, it just kept coming up the overflow pipe.


I may have tried pouring bleach down the drain, but I didn't want to deplete our supply. Sometimes it is difficult to find bleach in the store. That seems to be the case with all household cleaning products.


I may be able to provide photos of the plumbing to the bathtub in a few days, as I am planning to remove the panel in the closet on the other side of the wall to check it out. I have done this many times, but cannot remember the configuration.


I also attempted to scope the pipe with an inexpensive 'endoscope', but the lens kept getting covered by blobs of crud in the overflow pipe. I never even got it into the trap, and to be honest, I really don't think scoping is appropriate for such a small drain, although I would love to see what it looks like in there.
I think that when using a scope camera you need to have running water going past it, to keep the crud out of the lens, but it may just be the small diameter of the pipe that makes it difficult to get it through without the lens becoming obscured by crud.
 

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Getting the snake to make the turn is not a slam dunk....sometimes you have to keep trying......it has to catch the turn 'just right'. Sometimes it'll catch quick and sometimes it takes a lot of tries.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Getting the snake to make the turn is not a slam dunk....sometimes you have to keep trying......it has to catch the turn 'just right'. Sometimes it'll catch quick and sometimes it takes a lot of tries.
How many times I will attempt any snaking job depends on my mood at the time. i often become aggravated/frustrated, and give up sooner than I should.
 
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