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Two unrelated plumbing problems
Sep 18, 2012, 11:55 AMflickf9234
Two unrelated plumbing problems
4 years ago, my husband and I bought my in-laws house after my mother-in-law's dad passed away and left his house to them. It's a great little house with lots of potential. Neither one of my in-laws are very handy at home repair and they've always had different contractors do work around the house, with my father-in-law tackling a few very minor things here and there. The problem is that looking at the work now that I own the home is that the contractors haven't done a repair job that lasts which leaves me with a money pit of a house. Two of my issues are plumbing related and I'm stumped. One is my main bathroom sink. We've never been fully able to unclog it since we moved in. It would typically run slow for a while before backing up completely. I've ran who knows how many different brands of cleaner through at various times and with hot water and they'd run better for a bit. I've also not done the chemicals at times and tried different manual methods with the same result. A while back my husband bought one of those bladders to attach to a hose and we ran that through for about 15 minutes or so. It seemed to work great because it never backed up anywhere. Not 5 minutes after shutting the hose off we ran hot water in the drain and it was clogged still. After reading a book or two, I pulled apart the trap and tried to run a snake in the wall pipe after talking to my dad. The snake barely goes in before it completely stops and refuses to go anywhere. I'd really rather not have it snaked professionally due to the cost. My second problem is a toilet that is very sluggish in my master bathroom. The hardware in the tank is fine and works properly but when I flush the toilet, only 10% of the time, maybe less, does it flush completely. We don't use the toilet that often because after a while there's so much paper in it that it gets annoying. It never overflows. I put food coloring in the tank to see if there are any clogs where the water flows into the bowl and it runs great. I even found a plumbing video online where a plumber used some Dawn in the fill tube. It worked for a little bit but it remained sluggish a couple of flushes later. My husband wonders if it could possibly be the angle of the pipe or even the width of the pipe. Help! I'm super frustrated about having a master bathroom that's pretty much unusable. It'd be so awesome to check that off my long, long repair list. Thanks!
Sep 18, 2012, 02:57 PMjoecaption
Septic tank or public sewer?
Someplace there's a clean out in that sewer, may be under the house or outside.
You have to remove the cap to snake it out, and no some little wimpy snake is going to work.
The reason you could not the snake down the drain is there's a 90 deg. elbow behind that wall, once you work the snake past that it will work.
But since it's your sink and your toilet running slow, it the main line, or vent that's plugged up, or the septic tank is full. (if you have one)
I can not think of one good reason to ever use a chemical drain cleaner.
If you have a septic tank it kills the good bacteria breaking down the solids, and makes working on the pipes far more dangerest. Because of chemical burns.
Sep 18, 2012, 06:16 PMflickf9234
It's city sewer and we've already had the main snaked not long after we moved in. It didn't help a thing. These are also in 2 different bathrooms and the pipes from each one don't meet up except at the large drain in the basement. Everything else runs fantastic. The tub backs up only once in a while and a quick clean out with a pair of hemostats removes the hairy problem.
Sep 18, 2012, 06:32 PMJaybee
It sounds like you have some drain runs that are either horizontal or even slightly uphill. That would explain why you can clean it out and then have it back up just a few minutes later. Unfortunately, hard to find and fix - are any of the drain pipes that are giving you problems accessible from below? That would make all the difference.
Sep 19, 2012, 01:58 AMNestor
There's a trick to calling a drain cleaning plumber. When a drain gets clogged or sink backs up, most people panic and call the first name that comes to mind, namely the company that advertises on the radio with the cute jingle; Roto-Rooter. That company hires plumbers straight out of trade school and pays them barely more than minimum wage to clear drains using the company equipment and vehicle.
But, if you're smart, you'll phone the company with only a name and phone number in the yellow pages, which costs the business nothing. The President and CEO of that company will come out and clean your drain personally, and he'll bring all 35 years of experience with him. You'll pay half of what the Rooter charges, and the guy cleaning the drain will take home twice as much.
And, if you're even smarter, you'll save your yellow pages phone directories from each year to the next. That's cuz when someone working for the Rooter realizes he's learned all he ever will about cleaning drains and decides to quit and to go to the Bank of Dad to get the money to buy his own equipment to start his own company, the highest priority will be to get his company name in the phone book cuz that's where ALL his business is gonna come from.
So, by comparing the listings in this years yellow pages compared to last year's, you find out who all the new start-up companies are, and those guys would do exactly the same thing as you or I would to make a new company grow; do the best job you can for a better price and hope that word of mouth advertising makes you famous.
So, phone the smaller companies and get some quotes and you'll get just as good a job done for a much better price than the big boys charge.
Also, if you say you already had a plumber out to clear your drain and it didn't work, your options include phoning him back and getting it redone free, or running a video camera into your drain piping to actually see what's happening. Instead of beating your head against this problem, I think you should talk to some small "one man companies", get some quotes and get their help.
You can save 90 percent of the cost of maintaining and renovating your home by doing the simple stuff yourself. Clearing clogged drains really falls into the other 10 percent catagory, regardless of what those companies selling those drain cleaning chemicals say. They're just in it to sell their chemicals. Hire a new start up company, and he knows his best interest lies in creating satisfied customers, cuz that's the safest path to success.
Sep 19, 2012, 02:59 PMswschrad
unless you have hair or little toys in the pipe, a $20 snake isn't going to cut it. assuming the issue isn't several decades of crusted crud that has calcified and put a 1-inch hump in your 1-1/2 inch drain line, you need a "razor" snake that actually has two or three cutters that expand as you go through the pipe, and scrape the sides.
this is what you get when you hire a pro to snake it. Joe Homeowner invariably balks at the $180-300 price of one of those tools on a half-horse hand drill. and they can snap back and bite you in an instant.
if you do have that hump from inadequate attempts at cleaning over the years, the fix is to open the wall and replace some pipe.
if those drains are iron or galvanized pipe, you're going to have to resign yourself to that repair sooner or later.
bad news, but unless a pro runs a snake camera down there to look at what is actually going on without opening the walls, that's the best guess for an older house.
sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
Sep 19, 2012, 03:41 PMnona
hmmm,I wonder if you have tree roots entering the drain somewhere. As swschrad says, you're going to have to get a plumber to scope out the lines
Sep 22, 2012, 01:16 PMmosternaz
Could this be a vent issue?