Need Help Unclogging a Drain

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OldSport
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Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by OldSport »

Need help unclogging a sink drain. This is a standard bathroom sink drain, not a toilet, shower, or garbage disposal.

I already have the proper snake, power drill, and know how to use them. The only issue is that I cannot remove the P-trap below the sink to get proper access to the drain.

The drain line and P-trap is PVC piping. I can loosen the P-trap connection from the sink drain, but for the life of me, I cannot get the fitting to budge that connects the P-trap to the drain.

I cannot get the grip/leverage on the left side P-trap fitting that connects to the drain. It is 3" OD PVC fitting. I need a tool. A metal tool would strip and ruin the PVC. Putting the rubber caps on my existing tool I still cannot get the grip and it slips.

What am I doing wrong? Why is this so hard?

Last time we got a plumber, and they wanted $200 for this and that was before COVID. I don't want to get a plumber and waste hundreds of dollars solely because I cannot loosen one side of the P-trap. This is beyond frustrating.

Any help is much appreciated.
livesoft
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by livesoft »

If the drain is clogged well past the P-trap, then coming from the vertical "vent" pipe that it attaches to is something to try. I reached ours through the attic (not the roof top) by just cutting the exposed part with my PVC cutting tool (you could use a hacksaw), then rejoining the cut after the clog was cleared.

I've also seen people vacuum out a clog with a wet/dry canister vacuum cleaner.

OTOH, maybe you have a few things that you want a plumber to fix for you, so calling one is not a bad option.
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Kagord
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by Kagord »

A "rubber strap adjustable wrench" may help, if you have the room to use it.
oldfatguy
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by oldfatguy »

OldSport wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 5:21 pm I need a tool. A metal tool would strip and ruin the PVC. Putting the rubber caps on my existing tool I still cannot get the grip and it slips.

1. i know this is very basic, but be double-certain you are trying to turn it the correct way (i've done it wrong many times myself)
2. a metal pipe wrench or slip joint pliers might put soume gouges in the pvc fitting, but it isn't going to ruin it. even if it does, you can buy a new one for a few bucks.
Oldaroo3
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by Oldaroo3 »

1. Try a plunger. That often works. Run the water until there's enough for the plunger to be submerged.
2. Are you sure the clog is that far down? Our sinks often get clogged near the bottom of the sink stopper from hair and other gunk. I have a plastic tool about 18" long I bought at Lowes that has worked wonders. Has little teeth on it that grabs all the nasty stuff.

Good luck.
Last edited by Oldaroo3 on Sat Jun 08, 2024 5:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
bombcar
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by bombcar »

It may be glued on. Look for evidence of that perhaps.
CoAndy
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by CoAndy »

Try pouring baking soda in the sink until it covers the drain. Then pouring about a cup (at least) of vinegar over the baking soda. Let sit for 10 minutes or so. Then pour very hot water into the sink. Before doing that, try plunging the drain while covering the "hole" in the forward upper part of the sink. Both of these have worked for me repeatedly.
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cheese_breath
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by cheese_breath »

bombcar wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 5:46 pm It may be glued on. Look for evidence of that perhaps.
That's what I was going to say. Be careful how much pressure you use trying to unfreeze it. You don't want a broken pipe.
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windaar
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by windaar »

A lot of plumbing companies, especially the bigger ones, have a flat $99 drain unclog service; well worth it it if you're at wit's end.
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sport
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by sport »

Oldaroo3 wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 5:45 pm 1. Try a plunger. That often works. Run the water until there's enough for the plunger to be submerged.
2. Are you sure the clog is that far down? Our sinks often get clogged near the bottom of the sink stopper from hair and other gunk. I have a plastic tool about 18" long I bought at Lowes that has worked wonders. Has little teeth on it that grabs all the nasty stuff.

Good luck.
These are two easy things to try. Use the plastic tool first. If that does not work, try the plunger with hot water.
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cheese_breath
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by cheese_breath »

Have you tried Drano Crystals yet? You won't find them in grocery stores or Walmart anymore, but Lowes still carries them,

https://www.lowes.com/pd/Drano-18-oz-Dr ... ls/3344606
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John Z
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by John Z »

You could remove the entire trap and replace it with this flexible rubber P-trap. If it meets code.

https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Drain-Fle ... d_source=1
Longruninvestor
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by Longruninvestor »

oldfatguy wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 5:35 pm
OldSport wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 5:21 pm I need a tool. A metal tool would strip and ruin the PVC. Putting the rubber caps on my existing tool I still cannot get the grip and it slips.

1. i know this is very basic, but be double-certain you are trying to turn it the correct way (i've done it wrong many times myself)
2. a metal pipe wrench or slip joint pliers might put soume gouges in the pvc fitting, but it isn't going to ruin it. even if it does, you can buy a new one for a few bucks.
This is the way.
popoki
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by popoki »

Cover the overflow hole with a strong tape such as foil-backed duct tape. Partially fill the sink with water. Use a plunger to clear the clog. Lots of stinky gunk will appear in the sink. Pick it out and dispose of in garbage.

It's more likely with showers/tubs than with sinks, but hair can impeded drainage. Remove the stopper and pull out hair clogs with long needle nose pliers.

Drano is almost universally NOT recommended, and baking soda/vinegar may look impressive but is ineffective at breaking down clogs.
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tortoise84
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by tortoise84 »

Is yours like this standard 1-1/2 in. P-trap?:
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Oatey-1-1-2 ... /316622155

If so, look at the instructions:
https://images.thdstatic.com/catalog/pd ... 24945a.pdf

The nut labeled 'C' in the instructions from the drain tail piece to the P-trap is actually a slip joint and there is no flange holding the nut on.

You should undo the nut labeled 'A' (which does have a flange holding the nut). Then you can pull down on the P-trap piece labeled 'E', and the joint at 'C' should slide off even if you can't undo nut 'C'.

If it still doesn't come off, then someone may have done something wrong like putting PVC cement on the joint at 'C'. In this case, just cut off the drain tailpiece and replace the whole assembly and P-trap. The drain assembly only costs around $15.
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cheese_breath
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by cheese_breath »

popoki wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 7:07 pm .... Drano is almost universally NOT recommended...
I know that, but I used it once anyway when none of the weaker products worked. And it did the job.
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Point
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by Point »

Sometimes people use PVC glue on threaded fittings in which case you'll need to cut and replace.

Have you tried addressing hair clogs with one of these? https://www.homedepot.com/p/FlexiSnake- ... /203483754
cashmoney
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by cashmoney »

OldSport wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 5:21 pm Need help unclogging a sink drain. This is a standard bathroom sink drain, not a toilet, shower, or garbage disposal.

I already have the proper snake, power drill, and know how to use them. The only issue is that I cannot remove the P-trap below the sink to get proper access to the drain.

The drain line and P-trap is PVC piping. I can loosen the P-trap connection from the sink drain, but for the life of me, I cannot get the fitting to budge that connects the P-trap to the drain.

I cannot get the grip/leverage on the left side P-trap fitting that connects to the drain. It is 3" OD PVC fitting. I need a tool. A metal tool would strip and ruin the PVC. Putting the rubber caps on my existing tool I still cannot get the grip and it slips.

What am I doing wrong? Why is this so hard?

Last time we got a plumber, and they wanted $200 for this and that was before COVID. I don't want to get a plumber and waste hundreds of dollars solely because I cannot loosen one side of the P-trap. This is beyond frustrating.

Any help is much appreciated.

I was able to unclog my bathroom sink recently past the p trap from the sink with this 10ft skinny snake https://www.acehardware.com/departments ... es/4794350
Random Poster
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by Random Poster »

John Z wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 6:31 pm You could remove the entire trap and replace it with this flexible rubber P-trap. If it meets code.

https://www.amazon.com/Simple-Drain-Fle ... d_source=1
Do what you want, but those things are a clog magnet due to all of the ridges on the side of the pipe.
Most experiences are better imagined.
PoorPlumber
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by PoorPlumber »

Strange to have a 3" OD trap on a basic bathroom sink.
Someone may have installed a glue trap with a trap adapter in the vertical.
And there are some traps that glue only on the stub out from the wall.
Honestly would need to see to offer more instruction.
And you may have to bite the bullet and pay the plumber. They need love too. :happy :greedy
JBTX
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by JBTX »

UnLearnYourself
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by UnLearnYourself »

Baking soda + vinegar

Boiling hot water

Snake

Plunger

Every clogged sink or tub I've ever had was solved with these items/steps...with the plunger often being the step that gets it fully flowing
bombcar
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by bombcar »

If this is a recurring problem you should put a hair or whatever strainer or get a Milwaukee airsnake - I’ve had good luck with them but beware blowback!
Topic Author
OldSport
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by OldSport »

Thanks for the replies. I've already tried a lot of things unsuccessfully.

The P-trap itself it not 3" OD. I think the pipe itself is 2" OD but the flange OD (for tool grip) is 3" OD. I double checked and both P-trap sides are screwable flanges with small grips. I can hand unscrew the one, but not the other. Unfortunately I cannot find how to post photos in this forum.

I removed the sink stopper and tried the inexpensive 18" uncloggers. It's deeper than that. I have a heavy duty 25 ft snake, and reached the site of the clog about 15 ft in from the top of the sink, which is well in that main drain pipe (not whole house but that vertical). I was able to verify that the clog is a hair clog (so drainer, baking sofa, likely ineffective), but I cannot get good action from the snake passing through the P-trap to remove the clog. I did find hair on the end of the snake.

If I can remove the P-trap I'd be much closer to the clog without the snake having to navigate the P-trap turns.

The other issue is that this shares the main drain pipe with the A/C condensate, so this backs up into the sink even if we don't use the sink, so no draino, etc. can work, since it will never reach the clog.

We live in hot and humid Houston TX so this backs up with AC condensate from our entire house.

Problem is I've found plumbers in this area to be extremely expensive, charging $200-300 for something that I should be able to do.

I hate being ripped off, and I find contractors in this city to charge so much.
bombcar
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by bombcar »

At this point you’ve spent $200 in time - I’d call in a plumber and make sure he replaced the trap with something easily removable in the future.

$200 is not unreasonable for a 1-2 hr job + truck roll.
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OldSport
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by OldSport »

bombcar wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 8:13 am At this point you’ve spent $200 in time - I’d call in a plumber and make sure he replaced the trap with something easily removable in the future.

$200 is not unreasonable for a 1-2 hr job + truck roll.
$200 was pre-COVID. Despite the common conception that Houston is cheap, it most certainly is not (other than lack of state income tax and lower gasoline prices, that's about it). I've found calling contractors here to do anything to be EXTREMELY expensive and finding an honest one here seems so much harder than other places, so I'm not at a point where I want to deal with that again.
popoki
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by popoki »

In Houston, you can go to Home Depot in the morning and pick up a guy who will work all day for $100. Habla Español.
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Uniballer
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by Uniballer »

How about loosening the nut where the horizontal tube meets the pipe in the wall? Just replace the parts you can't get to come loose (cheap).
PoorPlumber
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by PoorPlumber »

Now I REALLY want to see this setup as condensate into a "main drain" is no, no, no!
Unless maybe into a dishwasher tailpiece?
And still, no, no, no!
Why? Because of what you're experiencing!

Are you on a slab?
PoorPlumber
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by PoorPlumber »

Also, a 15' smaller branch is practically unheard of in a "normal" bathroom.
(Toilet, sink, shower/bath.)
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Cash is King
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by Cash is King »

OldSport wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 8:34 am
bombcar wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 8:13 am At this point you’ve spent $200 in time - I’d call in a plumber and make sure he replaced the trap with something easily removable in the future.

$200 is not unreasonable for a 1-2 hr job + truck roll.
$200 was pre-COVID. Despite the common conception that Houston is cheap, it most certainly is not (other than lack of state income tax and lower gasoline prices, that's about it). I've found calling contractors here to do anything to be EXTREMELY expensive and finding an honest one here seems so much harder than other places, so I'm not at a point where I want to deal with that again.
I'm not sure if you can get enough suction, but you may try using a wet vac. I know people who have used them on shower drains with success.
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OldSport
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by OldSport »

PoorPlumber wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 10:20 am Also, a 15' smaller branch is practically unheard of in a "normal" bathroom.
(Toilet, sink, shower/bath.)
I don't know the internal home schematics, but the toilet and shower in the same bathroom function properly and drain just fine. I went up to the attic and confirmed two separate vertical pipes from that bathroom that vent through the roof. One for the toiler/shower and the other for the sink/AC condensate. The AC condensate ties into the vertical in the attic and is causing the backs up . The condensate itself appears perfectly clear.

Yes house is on a slab. 2008 era construction.
PoorPlumber
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by PoorPlumber »

Understood.
There are a couple of reasons you don't tie directly into a drainage or vent plumbing system with condensate. You have the potential for back contamination from sewer gas into the condensate line even with the common running p-trap on the condensate line.
And if you have a clog, you have an automatic non-stop water producing device that can cause a flood.

Which is what you're being aggravated with currently.

Think about if you're on vacation a couple of weeks. Even with your thermostat set higher you would likely come home to a mess.
Condensate should be ran to daylight outside.

But that's not the hand you're dealt, so let's deal with that.
You say you hit the clogged area about 15' in through the trap with a 25' snake.
Then keep working to get that extra 10' of snake through.
Put the drill/snake at the hard spot and let it run awhile.
Back it up, go in again.
Repeat.
If that fails, you feel you must get the p-trap off, and can't wrench it off-you can cut it on the outlet side provided you have enough room to couple back together, then go straight into the wall with your drill snake. Open line, couple back together.


(These are all opinions and NOT directions. All actions taken by any reader are voluntary by them and they carry all responsibility/liability for any and all action they pursue.)
PoorPlumber
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by PoorPlumber »

And rereading back through, it appears you don't have necessary tools unless I missed it?

And that's why you can't get the back slip but off. Right? Probably got two larger plastic ears on opposite sides with a bunch of grip ribs in-between.

Sound right?

Like others mentioned much earlier, slip joint pliers.

Everyone needs a pair of Channellocks. (Yes I've used Knipex and every other kind in the world.)
PoorPlumber
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by PoorPlumber »

PoorPlumber
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by PoorPlumber »

Those are 10" curved jaw. Just a suggestion as I don't know your tolerances, etc.
Most professionals reach for 12" straight jaw the majority of the time.
And don't even think for a second of getting any smooth jaw pliers.

Good luck. Be safe.

And if it gets too aggravating, call a plumber. Your time and life are worth more! :happy
FeralCat
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by FeralCat »

I know that this is different advice than what others are giving, but I would use a combination of Green Gobbler and boiling water to unclog a bathroom sink drain. I am guessing that it is clogged with only things like soap, hair and toothpaste? I've cleared a lot of old drains by pouring down lots and lots of boiling water. It works.
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B88
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by B88 »

cheese_breath wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 7:28 pm
popoki wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 7:07 pm .... Drano is almost universally NOT recommended...
I know that, but I used it once anyway when none of the weaker products worked. And it did the job.
Basically anything Drano will get out, you can get out with a plunger. Some things Drano won't budge a plunger will. Don't use Drano.

Ditto on the comments about baking soda and vinegar. The bubbling doesn't do anything a plunger or wet dry vac won't.
Big Dog
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by Big Dog »

FeralCat wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 1:54 pm I know that this is different advice than what others are giving, but I would use a combination of Green Gobbler and boiling water to unclog a bathroom sink drain. I am guessing that it is clogged with only things like soap, hair and toothpaste? I've cleared a lot of old drains by pouring down lots and lots of boiling water. It works.
Also a fan of GG.
OnTrack2020
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by OnTrack2020 »

Oldaroo3 wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 5:45 pm 1. Try a plunger. That often works. Run the water until there's enough for the plunger to be submerged.
2. Are you sure the clog is that far down? Our sinks often get clogged near the bottom of the sink stopper from hair and other gunk. I have a plastic tool about 18" long I bought at Lowes that has worked wonders. Has little teeth on it that grabs all the nasty stuff.

Good luck.
Second this post. This tool works great!--as well as trying a plunger first.
YeahBuddy
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by YeahBuddy »

PoorPlumber gave some excellent advice. Did OP ever unclog the drain?
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OpenMinded1
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by OpenMinded1 »

popoki wrote: Sat Jun 08, 2024 7:07 pm Cover the overflow hole with a strong tape such as foil-backed duct tape. Partially fill the sink with water. Use a plunger to clear the clog. Lots of stinky gunk will appear in the sink. Pick it out and dispose of in garbage.

It's more likely with showers/tubs than with sinks, but hair can impeded drainage. Remove the stopper and pull out hair clogs with long needle nose pliers.

Drano is almost universally NOT recommended, and baking soda/vinegar may look impressive but is ineffective at breaking down clogs.
+1. Your chances of success using a plunger are much better if you somehow seal the sink overflow hole.
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snackdog
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by snackdog »

Have you tried a serious chemical? I have never had a blockage anywhere (aside from a tree root) that would not be quickly demolished by this stuff. It is outrageous and pretty scary to see in action. Watch out as it may splatter - be ready to hide then run in with a towel to clean up. I only use it as a last resort.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Instant-Pow ... /302373121
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by fsrph »

snackdog wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 7:29 am Have you tried a serious chemical? I have never had a blockage anywhere (aside from a tree root) that would not be quickly demolished by this stuff. It is outrageous and pretty scary to see in action. Watch out as it may splatter - be ready to hide then run in with a towel to clean up. I only use it as a last resort.

https://www.homedepot.com/p/Instant-Pow ... /302373121
Another vote for Insta Power. Years ago called a plumber for a clogged drain. Long story, shortened he couldn't clear the clog.

I know you should try to avoid using harsh chemicals on a drain clog. But, I used Insta Power Heavy Duty drain cleaner (from Lowe's) as a last resort. It worked. Flushed line with boiling water then added Insta Power. Let it sit for a while then added more boiling water. Then used plunger.

I've tried other additives but Insta Power was the only one that worked. **OP has to decide if the slight risk of damage to pipes is worth using an additive.**

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wilked
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by wilked »

You need a photo for people to give more help.

Use IMGUR to host the photo, then link it here
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kevinf
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by kevinf »

Alkaline drain cleaners won't damage pipes. They are non-reactive with most plastics (they are stored and sold in plastic jugs after all) and high alkalinity reduces the corrosion of cast iron pipes and vessels which is why corrosion-inhibiting boiler water treatments are very alkaline.

They are best used for annual or semi-annual maintenance however, rather than clog busting. If you maintain the pipes you are far less likely to get a clog in the first place as they need to catch on a restriction and your drains generally increase in diameter the closer you get to the main lateral.

Those restrictions are generally biofilm or other gunk buildup on the interior of drain pipes which the drain cleaners will destroy.

Plunger, then drain snake, chemicals as a last resort.
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OldSport
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by OldSport »

Update:
I was able to easily get the P-trap PVC flange fitting off using Kobalt soft grip PVC Pliers:
https://www.lowes.com/pd/Kobalt-12-In-Pliers/1002797792

This was clearly the right tool for the job.

I was able to get the snake in. Got a large clog of hair and gunk out, but am not sure if it's enough, as the snake was totally full such that there was no remaining surface area for it to take any more debris with it. I'll hydroblast and clean the snake and run it through again.

Problem is the stupid A/C condensate drain actually ties in ABOVE (upsteam of) the P-trap inline with the sink, so have no way of knowing if this is effective for a while. Who the heck builds like this??
livesoft
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by livesoft »

Generally in our area, the HVAC systems are in the attic and the condensate lines go into a drain as you describe. The lines get clogged with mold, so going into the attic and pouring bleach periodically into the vent for the condensate line is considered routine maintenance. I think I'll go up there now and pour some bleach.
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Topic Author
OldSport
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by OldSport »

Yes, the HVAC system is in the attic and it's condensate line seems to drain just fine. Water is clear, no noticeably foul or moldy smell.

I'm gonna try to snake again later today to make sure I got it all. If a 25 ft snake properly used and ultimately inserted all the way, cannot remove it, then this one is "too hard" and would need to call a professional. I just hate that they are so expensive here. However to purchase anything beyond what I have would be a professional level drain snake, which is just as expensive and takes up space.

I'm 100% certain the clog is (hopefully was) a combo of hair and gunk.
bombcar
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Re: Need Help Unclogging a Drain

Post by bombcar »

You can rent a professional drum snake, but you'd want to wear leather gloves and not get hurt running, those things are powerful.

But Home Depot and maybe even the local Ace will have them.

Cost about as much to rent as a plumber, sometimes.
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