Fixing Slow Drains

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imsomeguy
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Fixing Slow Drains

Post by imsomeguy » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:51 pm

Got a few slow shower and sink drains in the house, whats your tool or method of choice for fixing this issue. Do I buy a drain auger? Seen a few other things online but a bit skeptical.

123
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by 123 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:00 pm

Probably clogs of hair and other stuff (soap scum) in them. You can use piece of bent coat hanger wire and/or bent paper clip to try and hook the stuff and pull it back out (that's the best remedy). If that is not successful try a plunger to try and loosen it and flush it down the drain pipe with a lot of (hot) water.
The closest helping hand is at the end of your own arm.

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El Greco
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by El Greco » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:03 pm

Use a plunger, but first put duct tape over any overflow holes as this will increase the suction and pull all of the old garbage out of the drain

tigerdoc93
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by tigerdoc93 » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:13 pm

Try zip it drain opener. Works very well and only costs a couple bucks!

mhalley
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by mhalley » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:13 pm

I had a slow drain in my br sink, and when I took the elbow apart to clean it there was no blockage. I purchased the 20 buck drain auger from Lowes and used it and now it drains fine. The ones without the drum are a little cheaper but the drum auger is much easier to use. Since I already had the elbow off I augered directly into the pipe.

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Cobra-1-4-in-x ... /999956882
I hadn't used one of the drum types before so I watched a YouTube video.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zcGmBwotdBw
The zipit is a good place to start, but if the clog is deeper then you would need the auger. Also, if you have a drain plug the auger might not fit without removing it.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Zip-It-Bath- ... /100665735
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TuXvZM--HRc

jjbiv
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by jjbiv » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:32 pm

Plain ol' bleach. Pour it down the drain and let it sit for a bit.

Mudpuppy
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Mudpuppy » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:33 pm

tigerdoc93 wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:13 pm
Try zip it drain opener. Works very well and only costs a couple bucks!
Yep, a Zip-It is my go-to drain opener for shower and tub drains, as well as bathroom sinks. It is really good at removing hair clogs from traps without having to disassemble everything. It's amazing how much hair can collect in a drain before it starts to impact the flow. See this YouTube video of a Zip-It in action for an example of a massive hair clog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1x_TtfTL4yo

I would recommend wearing gloves while using it though. I'd also recommend having a plastic trash bag handy to dispose of the hair clogs. Those hair clogs can be really nasty and smelly. You don't want to touch them and you want to get them out to an exterior trash can as quickly and cleanly as possible.

And if you feel like using gloves to detangle the hair clog from the Zip-It, you can rinse the Zip-It and reuse it.

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Pajamas
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Pajamas » Thu Aug 24, 2017 11:59 pm

Before you try all of that, turn the hot water on in all the sinks, bathtubs, and showers and let it run for a few minutes, at the same time if your water pressure will allow it. I'm not sure exactly what it does, but it often helps with a sluggish drain.

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Hyperborea
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Hyperborea » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:22 am

Another spot that clogs is the built-in stopper that many sinks and tubs have now. Hair, skin, and soap scum build up around the underside of these. Generally the top of the stopper unscrews and you can clean it out.
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abner kravitz
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by abner kravitz » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:26 am

I had a really slow draining baththub when we moved to our new house, and after trying all kinds of drain openers and other remedies, I used a shop vac. Up came a 3 inch plastic Elmo toy.

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bottlecap
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by bottlecap » Fri Aug 25, 2017 6:29 am

Screwdriver. Open the drain cover (shower) and remove the stopper (sink), scoop the hair out with the screwdriver, and throw it in a trash bag.

Wash the screwdriver.

Have fun,

JT

Iliketoridemybike
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Iliketoridemybike » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:47 am

For accessible drains like under sinks, unscrew the elbow joint and clean in both directions, up and down the pipes. You will be amazed what comes out and how it smells. :mrgreen:

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lthenderson
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by lthenderson » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:56 am

I think the best solution is to pour chemical drain cleaner down in the pipes, let sit 15 minutes and then pour a pot full of boiling hot water down the drain. Any type of augering or plunging only opens up the clog but doesn't remove the gunk still stuck to the sides of the pipe which immediately begins catching new debris and forming a new clog. The chemical/boiling water method gets you back to clean pipe walls.

Mudpuppy
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Mudpuppy » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:15 am

lthenderson wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:56 am
I think the best solution is to pour chemical drain cleaner down in the pipes, let sit 15 minutes and then pour a pot full of boiling hot water down the drain. Any type of augering or plunging only opens up the clog but doesn't remove the gunk still stuck to the sides of the pipe which immediately begins catching new debris and forming a new clog. The chemical/boiling water method gets you back to clean pipe walls.
The chemical drain cleaners rarely eat through the whole clog and the gunk on the walls of the pipe though. Mechanically cleaning out the clogs, then following up with either a degreaser (kitchens) or soap digester will also help clean up the walls. An auger as the mechanical cleaner will help because it will scrape the walls while getting the clog out, to loosen up some gunk. But don't expect to get squeaky clean pipes. Pipes build up gunk, even with chemical cleaners.

Iliketoridemybike
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Iliketoridemybike » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:58 am

Mudpuppy wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:15 am
lthenderson wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:56 am
I think the best solution is to pour chemical drain cleaner down in the pipes, let sit 15 minutes and then pour a pot full of boiling hot water down the drain. Any type of augering or plunging only opens up the clog but doesn't remove the gunk still stuck to the sides of the pipe which immediately begins catching new debris and forming a new clog. The chemical/boiling water method gets you back to clean pipe walls.
The chemical drain cleaners rarely eat through the whole clog and the gunk on the walls of the pipe though. Mechanically cleaning out the clogs, then following up with either a degreaser (kitchens) or soap digester will also help clean up the walls. An auger as the mechanical cleaner will help because it will scrape the walls while getting the clog out, to loosen up some gunk. But don't expect to get squeaky clean pipes. Pipes build up gunk, even with chemical cleaners.
I agree. I have tried the chemical methods and they rarely will take the goop off the sides and that is what ends up smelling so bad.

hectorochoa
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by hectorochoa » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:01 am

Lots of baking soda and then pour some white vinegar down the drain. Let it fizz and foam for a minute, then turn the water on hot as it will go and let it run. Repeat if drain still slow. Do this once a month as preventative maintenance.

z91
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by z91 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 3:56 pm

+1 for Zip it. I used it on an old property and it worked great. Chemicals are hit or miss, and they could mess with your pipes. Get a plumber to snake it out if you want a real fix.

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Smorgasbord
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Smorgasbord » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:01 pm

For ~$11 you can get a drain auger that will last a lifetime.
https://www.menards.com/main/plumbing/d ... 431&ipos=6

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Pajamas
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Pajamas » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:15 pm

Chemical drain cleaners can damage pipes.

lightheir
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by lightheir » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:43 pm

imsomeguy wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:51 pm
Got a few slow shower and sink drains in the house, whats your tool or method of choice for fixing this issue. Do I buy a drain auger? Seen a few other things online but a bit skeptical.
DRAIN AUGUR for sure.

Seriously, forget the chemicals, Drano-O, etc.

The drain augur is <$15 at any local hardware store, super easy to use, and will definitively clear or pull out any blockages or debris fairly quickly. They are safe and easy to use - don't get intimidated - I guarantee after you self-motivate to your very first slow or clogged drain, once you get it clear, you will almost certainly go crazy and have a sudden desire to snake every slow drain in your entire house, as it's so satisfying. Seriously. :beer

The nonmechanical solutions will always leaving you thinking "is this the best it gets? Is there any more down there?" If it were hard to use the augur, I'd say try this first, but the augur is so stupidly easy there is no excuse not to do it, and in my experience, clears drains wayyyy longer than the chemical processes which usually leave a lot behind.

Church Lady
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Church Lady » Fri Aug 25, 2017 4:53 pm

This helps in the tub:
https://www.walmart.com/search/?query=s ... ain%20hair

but isn't foolproof. Every once in a while I have to reach into the drain with needle nose pliers and pull out some hair. Follow up with drain cleaner.

In the kitchen, I'm having good luck with something like this:
https://www.walmart.com/ip/Unique-Barga ... a/50255198

A relative is using something like this: https://www.walmart.com/ip/As-Seen-on-T ... r/14150535

I found something similar to this cheap thing helps: https://www.lowes.com/pd/Keeney-Plastic ... 1000107721

I am intrigued by the youtube video provided above of the drain auger. The things you learn on Bogleheads!

Good luck with your drain!
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.

bampf
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by bampf » Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:06 pm

Consider this:

Google GrabEASY-Flexible-Reusuable-Grabber-Retriever

It works well because you can explicitly grab the nasty.

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HueyLD
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by HueyLD » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:01 pm

Baking soda and vinegar mix works well for kitchen drain because grease is the main problem with kitchen drain.

Physical gadget in combination with Draino or the like works for bathroom sinks and shower tub drain.

Pinotage
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Pinotage » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:12 pm

bampf wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:06 pm
It works well because you can explicitly grab the nasty.
This is an outstanding quote!

gkaplan
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by gkaplan » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:19 pm

Many, many years ago the property manager of my apartment building (my first residence after I got out of the army) recommended I not use chemical drain cleaners, like Drano. I'm not sure what his reasoning was, but I think he thought that these drain cleaners would damage the drains. That hasn't deterred me from using these drain cleaners, though.
Gordon

Mudpuppy
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Mudpuppy » Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:51 pm

bampf wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 5:06 pm
Consider this:

Google GrabEASY-Flexible-Reusuable-Grabber-Retriever

It works well because you can explicitly grab the nasty.
I have the "GrabEASY", aka a flexible 4-prong long-handled grabber. The Zip-It is a whole lot easier and faster for removing hair clogs from shower and tub drains. I primarily use the 4-prong grabber for fishing nuts out of my irrigation pipes. I think the prior owner's solution to the nut breaking off the diaphragm in the irrigation valve was just to put a new diaphragm in and ignore the missing nut by how many nuts I've fished out of my irrigation system.

I also have a hand-driven drain auger. I've rarely needed to use it compared to the Zip-It, but the auger is useful for having on hand. When you need it, there's really no substitute. The Zip-It is great for close-by hair clogs, which is the majority of my drain-slowing clogs, but the auger can get things that have gone farther down the drain.

Mudpuppy
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Mudpuppy » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:05 pm

gkaplan wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:19 pm
Many, many years ago the property manager of my apartment building (my first residence after I got out of the army) recommended I not use chemical drain cleaners, like Drano. I'm not sure what his reasoning was, but I think he thought that these drain cleaners would damage the drains. That hasn't deterred me from using these drain cleaners, though.
That's because drain cleaners can damage pipes. Older pipes or pipes made of certain materials may be more prone to damage than others.

Also, he probably didn't want to be augering drains after the residents put caustic chemicals down them. If the chemicals didn't work, then there's likely not enough water flow to dilute the chemicals. That means the chemicals are still sitting there when he augers through the clog. Nothing ruins the day like a chemical burn or skin irritation from the chemicals on the hair clog you just pulled out of the drain.

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jabberwockOG
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by jabberwockOG » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:06 pm

Chemical drain cleaners most often do not fix a blocked drain. Worse than that they are extremely corrosive and physically very dangerous. If you unsuccessfully use chemical drain cleaner in a blocked drain pipe and then it actually needs to be taken apart the drain cleaner remaining in the pipe can in some situations burst out and cause very serious burns to skin and blindness if it gets in the eyes of the person performing the repair.

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whodidntante
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by whodidntante » Fri Aug 25, 2017 11:22 pm

Lye is incredibly effective at removing hairy fatty masses, including those found on any appendages you happen to spill it on. And you can by it much cheaper than the stuff with a colorful label.

kaneohe
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by kaneohe » Sat Aug 26, 2017 1:14 am

Iliketoridemybike wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:58 am
Mudpuppy wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:15 am
lthenderson wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:56 am
I think the best solution is to pour chemical drain cleaner down in the pipes, let sit 15 minutes and then pour a pot full of boiling hot water down the drain. Any type of augering or plunging only opens up the clog but doesn't remove the gunk still stuck to the sides of the pipe which immediately begins catching new debris and forming a new clog. The chemical/boiling water method gets you back to clean pipe walls.
The chemical drain cleaners rarely eat through the whole clog and the gunk on the walls of the pipe though. Mechanically cleaning out the clogs, then following up with either a degreaser (kitchens) or soap digester will also help clean up the walls. An auger as the mechanical cleaner will help because it will scrape the walls while getting the clog out, to loosen up some gunk. But don't expect to get squeaky clean pipes. Pipes build up gunk, even with chemical cleaners.
I agree. I have tried the chemical methods and they rarely will take the goop off the sides and that is what ends up smelling so bad.
Not sure how you would use this on a sink/shower drain but an interesting lesson. We used to have a 2" drain line that would partially clog up regularly every year. It didn't affect anything except the washer (I'm guessing because it had high volume flows) which would overflow the open drain when it drained. Every year a drain guy would snake the 2" drain from the roof vent and then things would be ok till the next yr. One year by good luck I got a guy who attached a bunch of socks to the snake. He explained that I probably had a kitchen grease clog that the snake would penetrate and allow limited flow but the bulk of the blockage would remain. By effectively increasing the area of the snake w/ the socks,he would remove much more of the blockage. Knocking on wood here...........he was the last guy to come out.

namekevaste
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by namekevaste » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:59 am

The Roebic line of products like Roebic K-87-Q-4 SGP are a proprietary blend of bacteria that will digest soap, grease, paper hair etc to open up slow flowing drains and pipes. They take time to work, but are safe for the environment. Chemical drain openers can damage the finish on certain plastic and metal surfaces.

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Fletch
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Fletch » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:10 am

Zep Professional Strength Drain Care is another enzyme material that works great for preventative maintenance and clogs (but there needs to be a partial flow before use if the drain is clogged). I use it every month or two and have had no recurring drain issues. Label says it is for sinks, toilets, showers, drains, garbage disposals, grease traps and septic tanks. I've only used it in sinks and shower drains; never had an issue with the others.
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linenfort
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by linenfort » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:15 am

For the shower, I've had success with Turbo Snake, a slim, disposable approximation of an auger.

For both the shower and the bathroom sink, straight ammonia has worked better for me than Drano. And, unfortunately, Drano worked better for me than Earth Enzymes. I really wanted Earth Enzymes to be the solution. Might help with weekly maintenance.

(Obviously, don't try bleach and ammonia in the same session. Creates poison gas. And don't breathe near the ammonia).

Uniballer
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Uniballer » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:43 am

Chemical drain cleaners could affect the health of your septic system, if you have one. I prefer the drain auger (buy one you like because you will probably never need to buy another).

Frank Grimes
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by Frank Grimes » Sat Aug 26, 2017 8:53 am

I also have not had much success with chemical cleaners in our showers. Any flow improvement is short lived.

Getting my hands dirty for like 2 minutes with a zip it, or even just unscrewing the drain plug and fishing gunk out by hand has solved the issues. Just need to hold your breath and not inhale for a minute or so :)

tibbitts
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by tibbitts » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:07 am

I had a problem with just one sink draining, and I pretty much knew where the clog was and was going to buy a snake for it, but I didn't know exactly how far it was. So I hired a plumber and he found the problem - exactly 5 ft farther than the snake I would have bought. So now I have a snake that will reach, but understand that snakes get very, very expensive very fast as you go up in length and diameter. And the longer you need the larger the snake diameter has to be. You really don't want to break a little snake off 20ft into your drains because that might not be easy for even a pro to retrieve.

I tried the strongest, highest rated chemicals, four times (dumped into a cleanout so it went directly to the clog) without success.

destinationnc
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by destinationnc » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:21 am

I had my sewer line backup once so we had a plumber come and run a camera down the line. I watched it and saw there was minimal tree roots that had caught up something. The camera was enough to knock it past the roots and clear the line. So then he tried to sell me on putting in a clean out valve for $5,000 and suggested annual cleanouts. We decided to simply remove the offending tree and will wait for the roots to rot. In the meantime we got a Cloghog hose that I use with a pressure washer to clear the line. It seems to be about every 6 months I clear it, so costwise it's saved me quite a bit over having a plumber come out to do it. You can use it for clearing interior drains but if you run a gas pressure water it may be a bit difficult to setup. My suspicion is that our Waste King garbage disposal doesn't grind up the food enough and it gets caught eventually. We noticed after someone put about 10 potatoes worth of peels down the disposal that shortly after we had a backup. Luckily the backup occurs in our garage and not our house is why we don't mind it so much.

http://www.cloghog.com/categories.php

JW-Retired
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by JW-Retired » Sat Aug 26, 2017 10:27 am

imsomeguy wrote:
Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:51 pm
Got a few slow shower and sink drains in the house, whats your tool or method of choice for fixing this issue. Do I buy a drain auger? Seen a few other things online but a bit skeptical.
Are you sure it's the drains? We fought slow drains here and there for many years. We were roto-rootering the pipes frequently.

Ultimately, once plumbers got pipe cameras, we could see there was there was a pipe joint near the street letting some roots get into the pipe. The snake couldn't get past that point. We finally paid to dig down to the 4 foot deep pipe and really repair the joint. In doing so they pulled a very dense cylindrical plug of tangled roots out of the pipe that was at least a foot long! To look at it you wouldn't think any sewage could be getting through at all, but somehow it slowly was.

Not a hint of a "slow drain" since this fix about 5 years ago.
JW
Retired at Last

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lthenderson
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by lthenderson » Mon Aug 28, 2017 8:51 am

Iliketoridemybike wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:58 am
Mudpuppy wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 10:15 am
lthenderson wrote:
Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:56 am
I think the best solution is to pour chemical drain cleaner down in the pipes, let sit 15 minutes and then pour a pot full of boiling hot water down the drain. Any type of augering or plunging only opens up the clog but doesn't remove the gunk still stuck to the sides of the pipe which immediately begins catching new debris and forming a new clog. The chemical/boiling water method gets you back to clean pipe walls.
The chemical drain cleaners rarely eat through the whole clog and the gunk on the walls of the pipe though. Mechanically cleaning out the clogs, then following up with either a degreaser (kitchens) or soap digester will also help clean up the walls. An auger as the mechanical cleaner will help because it will scrape the walls while getting the clog out, to loosen up some gunk. But don't expect to get squeaky clean pipes. Pipes build up gunk, even with chemical cleaners.
I agree. I have tried the chemical methods and they rarely will take the goop off the sides and that is what ends up smelling so bad.
This is why I add that one must pour several gallons of boiling water down after 15 minutes or so. The chemicals soften the organics causing the clog and the boiling water flushes them away. Using hot tap water (as per instructions on most decloggers) isn't enough to flush the organics.

NHRATA01
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by NHRATA01 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:26 pm

I have found the chemical cleaners work OK on the hair in showers and bathroom sinks. I try to avoid their use for some of the reasons mentioned here (and if you have older metal pipes, not PVC I would not use them at all). Using a "drain wig" you can find cheaply on Amazon does a good job at collecting the hair and preventing it from going further down the drain in the shower. As for the sinks the clogs tend to be in the traps and more easily cleared.

Now for the kitchen sink, I've never found any chemicals to be much use. I saw a picture of someone re-piping their kitchen, and the 2" drain line was pretty much clogged all around except a tiny channel at the bottom where the chemicals etched a small path. If you think about it, unless the clog is on a vertical run (which is rather unlikely) the chemicals are not going to contact the full surface of the clog anyway. So that said, I sucked it up and brought a power auger and about once a year I have to ream out the drain line to restore flow (and we try to be very good about not treating the sink as a garbage disposal). Not a difficult job, but much cheaper than calling a plumber. If you have visible access to your drain lines in the basement, maybe a one time plumber call to put in a cleanout elbow or two might be worthwhile.

5sy5
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Re: Fixing Slow Drains

Post by 5sy5 » Mon Aug 28, 2017 12:45 pm

https://www.shopvac.com/us/en/im-lookin ... -my-drains

Haven't used it myself but got one from Amazon and waiting to try it for the first time.

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