Past the p-trap and still clogged up
December 12, 2010 1:28 PM   Subscribe

IANYPlumber: I need some help for the world's most clogged bathroom sink.

Long story short: it's clogged. SUPER clogged. I tried the old standbys (baking soda + vinegar, hot water + salt, a plunger) and no dice. It got to the point where I actually loosened the sink, pulled the pedestal out, and took a look down the main drainpipe.

I pulled a lot of crap out of the main drainpipe (but not pipe-blocking crap, just accumulated gunk), which extends about 7" into the wall before I hit the back of the pipe. A snake and a bent bit of coat hanger don't make much progress. The weirdest thing is that the pipe seems to bend to the RIGHT at the 7" point, as far as I can tell with the flashlight and eyeballing it. Maybe it goes down right afterwards, but there doesn't seem to be any "down" at the 7" mark, and again, it seems to curve to the right slightly.

As much as I hate Drano, I think I've reached that point. Problem being, I did some experiments, and if I use a turkey baster to squirt liquid in there, it just flows right back out. Whatever I squirt in pours back out. So I'm at a bit of a loss: if I squirt Drano in there, it'll probably just flow out again. I don't even see the pipe going DOWN, just bending a bit right (and maybe down after that).

posted by Shepherd to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
so you're saying there's no visible trap in the pipe before it goes into the wall?
posted by dubold at 1:31 PM on December 12, 2010

Response by poster: Sorry -- forgot to mention that I had a flexible p-trap (rubber) that I detached after pulling the pedestal out.

The good news is that the snake, after a hell of a lot of elbow grease, is proving to be the third-greatest snake in history (after Snake Plissken and Jake "The Snake" Roberts). It's finally made it around the odd right-bend and is about 15' deep at this point, after pulling out some Cthulhuian gunk at the 3' and 10' depths. I'm running into something else real solid, but the Drano may not be necessary.
posted by Shepherd at 2:14 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Dude, that's intense.

Is it draining now?
posted by annsunny at 2:20 PM on December 12, 2010

Best answer: Can you borrow a power snake from someone? Those things are a lot more effective.
posted by fshgrl at 2:24 PM on December 12, 2010

Best answer: if you don't know anyone you can borrow a power snake from, you can frequently rent them from big-box hardware stores.
posted by KathrynT at 2:28 PM on December 12, 2010

I know you said you used hot water and salt. But my Dad used to swear by boiling water. Like from an electric kettle. Lots. If you can get it to go to the plugged part, do it again and maybe again. If you can get it to sit on the plugged part it usually liquefies some, if not most of any greasy goo. That might just get you started. But you say everything drains back out after you squirt it in. The flow should be sloped down and away ( slightly) from the sink and continue on to the waste pipe. If you do use Draino, maybe use a long tube (to at least get it to the point where it doesn't come pouring back) and a funnel that doesn't react to Draino.

If all else fails, call a good plumber. They've probably seen this before.
posted by Taurid at 2:37 PM on December 12, 2010

When baking soda & vinegar, boiling water, the old coat hanger, and a plunger fail, my fail-safe drain opener is Pequa brand. It's available at Home Depot and possibly your local hardware store. Drano never seems to work for me, but this stuff does and usually I only have to leave it in for 30 minutes before pouring near-boiling water down the drain. Once I had a clog so bad that black crap was coming into the bath tub when I turned the sink on, and Pequa got rid of it. So if the snake doesn't seem to get rid of all that, I recommend the Pequa.
posted by wondermouse at 2:53 PM on December 12, 2010

Snake. Power drill. Drop cloths everywhere for the black chthonic gunk that stains everything.
posted by bonehead at 2:54 PM on December 12, 2010

If you can get access to the basement, any chance of snaking UP from that point?
posted by dubold at 4:27 PM on December 12, 2010

I suggest hiring a plumber before using Drano. It's generally not more than an hour to unclog a sink and they have a gigantic power snake that will remove just about anything from your drain.

Last time I had a major clog, I went to Lowe's and bought a 30' snake that can be driven by a handheld drill. It did absolutely nothing, as whatever was down there was just too gunky for it. The plumber's snake-on-a-reel did a fine job, though. It cost all of $60, which was a fine tradeoff for what would have been hours of my time spent screwing with it further.
posted by wierdo at 8:50 PM on December 12, 2010

Bio-Clean, a/k/a Plumb Clean. Pour some down the pipe, come back tomorrow, it will be like new. But you have to be able to wait, and in bad clogs, sometimes a second application is necessary.

I have also used Drano Max Build-Up Remover (which might be the same thing as Drano Prevention), Drain-X, Drain-Out, and Drain Care. I found the Drano product to be less effective.
posted by dhartung at 9:53 PM on December 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Long-term follow-up: hours of work with the manual snake, making just enough progress that I never felt like spending the money/time on renting a power snake, eventually resulted in me pulling things from that drain that forever shattered my belief in a just and loving God.

But the snake did it in the end.
posted by Shepherd at 7:44 AM on August 4, 2011 [1 favorite]

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