24 Nov 2008

Getting rediculous…

Still having clog problems. To recap – there’s a clog somewhere in the standpipe below the four drains that feed to the main line (see pic here). It has to be below, down where they all come together, because pouring water down any of the lines – shower, toilet, sink – results in bubbles and gurgling noises in the others.

I relented and used a sulfuric acid drain opener yesterday. This seemed to work initially, but I may just have not put enough water into the pipes last night to know for sure. Further testing this morning reveals that the clog (well, a clog; it’s possible this one is further down the line) is still there.

So. The drain auger didn’t work – the clog is probably a hair clog (it’s quite solid when I do hit it) and I’m not pulling anything out when I do get the snake jammed into it. Enzymes didn’t work, which furthers the theory that it’s a hair clog. The sulfuric acid may have become too dilute, or there may not have been enough of it, or it may not have worked for some other reason. I’m inclined to think it’s the first option – read the directions on drain cleaners and it’s clear they are generally made to attack clogs in the trap of a drain, i.e. fairly close to the drain opening. To get the cleaner down to where this clog is means pushing water behind it.

I’ve also been unable to budge the standpipe cover even with some super penetrating oil loaned to me by Nate. That last one is frustrating because you just know the clog is probably right there…

My options right now seem to be thus:
– keep trying on the stand pipe cover; maybe use a blowtorch (after wiping away any excess penetrating oil) and use vise grips as opposed to a wrench
– find a way to get drain cleaner to the clog in an undiluted form. I’m thinking I could drill a hole in the PVC pipe from the sink and pour the cleaner into a run that heads downwards, as opposed to dealing with the various horizontal runs on the drains. I would then cover the hole with one of those rubber sleeves tightened by pipe clamps.
– call a plumber. I’m leaving this one until I have to – if I can’t open the stand pipe, get the thing to move with a snake, or get the drain cleaner to the clog undiluted, I suspect a plumber will have to do some significant labor to have any more luck. In the interest of not spending hundreds of dollars when I could spend several hours of my own time, I’ll keep at this until I’m heading beyond my abilities.

UPDATE (February ’09): Had to call a plumber and have the drain snaked. Even if I did get the cover off (he did it via vibration – hammer and chisel for a few moments, then it opened with ease) the clog – which he thinks was a bic pen or the like – was 5-10′ down the line. So I have a perfectly functioning drain now, which is great. But I did pay $165 for an hour’s work…

  1. #1 by Sarah on 24 November 2008 - 7:33 pm

    You know what you need? Nanobots.

  2. #2 by Mooch on 24 November 2008 - 7:37 pm

    High technology would make dealing with an old house so much easier. Seriously – where’s my damn flying car so I can deal with the gutters, eaves, and chimney without using belaying ropes?

  3. #3 by Moon on 24 November 2008 - 7:46 pm

    I’ve had the same problem at my house. Been trying to use enzymes, but they’re really only good as a preventative measure.

    What I would suggest is this:

    1) slowly run hot water in all sinks at the same time for a few minutes, then shut them all off

    2) take an industrial/professional strength drano max GEL type product (gallon size) and equally distribute it to ALL of the drains

    3) Thought the product says to wait 15 minutes, I suggest 30-45 minutes

    4) Success will mean you hear a loud gurgling sound and the escape of gases

    5) Older drain pipes may show a leak, but they probably needed to be replaced soon anyway

    6) follow up with once-a-month drain treatments

(will not be published)