Bladder plumbing tool

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by brother, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. brother

    brother New Member

    Messages:
    53
    Location:
    Washington
    whats your opinion of the 'bladder' to use to unclogged a stopped line?? do you use them?
  2. they work....

    they are basically a last resort kind of tool

    if nothing else can get through then its a

    last ditch effort just to get it moveing....


    I cant say its as good as the old snake
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,631
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    bladder

    The rubber ones tend to explode when 2,000 psi of CO2 hits them, but the canvas ones work fairly well.
  4. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Be careful...if the stoppage is past a vent the vent may fill with water and you can end up with a vent full of water, the stoppage still there and no way to empty the line without flooding your home.

    I have seen this with water pouring out a roof vent, the people thought the stoppage was clear, and what a mess they had when they removed the bladder.
  5. cass ....

    Cass....now that is something I
    never thought of happenning...

    pull out the bag and you get a full
    3 inch explosion of sewage water blow back
    into your home....
  6. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Yes...it kind of adds a little luster to an other wise boaring day.
  7. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Better yet may be the guy in the basement with the blow bag that is filling the bathtub and toilet bowl on the floor above to the point of overflowing... Oops!

    They are a great tool properly used, but are a poor substitute for snaking a line or, jetting, and can have disasterous consequences when improperly applied.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,631
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    bag

    I had a customer use one on a stopped sink drain. After just a little use the water started to drain. The next day, I was back on the job to work on the drain, when they said it was fixed. I started to run water in the sink and while I was doing something else I noticed water was running past my feet. I traced it back to where it was pouring out of the wall. We opened the wall and there was a 2" diameter hole in the copper drain where the pressure had blown the weak spot out.
  9. davefoc

    davefoc New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    California
    I am not a professional plumber but I have done a lot of plumbing type maintenance work on an older building.

    I used one of those devices without success a few times and threw it away.

    Recently I had a situation where two back to back showers were stopped up. The snake passed through the drain of one shower into the drain of the other shower without loosening the blockage. I tried numerous things including going on the roof looking for a vent that might help and searching all over the place for a cleanout. I had no success with anything I tried.

    I think now there was sanitary cross buried underground between the two showers. I have wondered if a professional plumber wouldn't have solved this problem right away with a drop head snake. But I don't have one and I'm not sure how well they work.

    So I went to the store and bought one of those rubber bladder drain clearing devices. I had almost no hope given my past experience but I hated to leave the tenant without a shower until I could get a plumber out the next day (plus I wasn't sure even a professional plumber could fix it given my difficulties) so I decided to give it a try. I plugged the drain of one shower and put the thing into the drain of the other shower. No joy. My guess is that water was running up the vent and into the soil stack.

    But as I was about to give up I noticed there was quite a bit of effluent being pushed out the drain when I removed the plug. I had a small pump and just started pumping the water plus effluent mixture out of the shower pan and into the toilet. After a few minutes the clog was dislodged. Happy days.

    As a result of this incident I did some research on sanitary crosses and current codes. Apparently, at some point in the past, the UPC for sure and possibly the IPC were modified to require double fixture fittings instead of the sanitary crosses for back to back fixture drains because of this problem. CodeCheck plumbing third addition, erroneously states that the UPC requires a sanitary cross (back to back sanitary tee) for back to back fixtures but UPC 704.2 pretty clearly states that a double fixture fitting is required.
  10. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    You were very lucky, I am guessing the weight /pressure of the water in the vent happened to be enough to dislodge the stoppage.
  11. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Connecticut
    Dave, I don't use a drop head and find them all the time. You have to put a bend on the end of the cable and feel the drop. Sometimes you go up the vent and sometimes you go down. If you feel the cable pushing back you are going up and you need to pull it back and try again. Reversing rotation on the drum often helps find the right direction.
  12. davefoc

    davefoc New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    California
    This sounds like obi-wan telling Luke to feel the force.:)

    Thank you very much for the advice, although it sounds like the kind of advice where even if you know the trick you still don't have the skill to do it. This is the only place in the building where a sanitary cross is underground, but there are lots of them between kitchen sinks. In the past, I've removed the trap arm so that I could guide the snake to fix the problem. Maybe I could practice feeling the force on those before I go for trying to guide a snake though a hole that is underground and several feet away from the drain.
  13. davefoc

    davefoc New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    California
    No one knows that more than me. I had been screwing with this problem for about two hours and was seconds away from giving up when all of a sudden the water in the shower pan where I had the pump disappeared. My initial reaction was that somehow the pump had started to work much faster so there wasn't time for water to build up in the pan. It was only after I turned the pump off and there was still no water in the pan that I began to believe the clog was gone.
  14. davefoc

    davefoc New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    California
    My apologies for making so many posts in this thread but this is exactly what did happen to me when I used the thing previously to what I described above. The out rush of sewage hit me square in the face. After the incident I ended up with a horrific case of stomach flu for a couple of days.

    I just noticed hj's comment about CO2 pressure. I hope I'm talking about the gadget in question. The one I used connects to the hose and it somehow delivers little pulses of water into the drain after it expands against the walls of the drain pipe.
  15. Herk

    Herk Plumber

    Messages:
    547
    Location:
    S.E. Idaho
    I have used these when a cable wouldn't go through the line - usually because some amateur had plumbed the drain with water line fittings. One way to do it is to put a galvanized cap on the drain under the sink after removing the trap, then use the hose from the roof. Sometimes, you can clear the line with just the hose if the fittings allow, and you still have the problem with the water in the stack if you can't clear it. If there's any movement of water at all, the Drain King will vibrate, helping to loosen the clog. However, a grease plug can be several feet long or more and hard as a rock.
  16. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Dave, you have probably seen me say several times now that when a guy takes up drain cleaning that it takes about a full year out there doing it before they get good at it!

    I usually say that to a DIYer getting ready to try a snake out for the first time to save money on a clogged main line at their house. Several days later the pro pays a visit and within an hour or two drainage is restored. It would have cost less just to hire the pro in the beginning. Its really tough to listen to a customer complain about cleaning the drain costing twice what I charge. If they had called me in the beginning they would have saved money!
  17. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,631
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    bag

    It is the same unit, but the CO2 gives more effect and does not flood the room when you remove it if it does not work, but the rubber ones will explode if the valve is opened too quickly.
  18. davefoc

    davefoc New Member

    Messages:
    25
    Location:
    California
    I am sure you are right about that redwood. Even with my experience which is much greater than the average guys, the kind of clogged drains that I will attempt to clear is very limited. As soon as I stray very far from the hairball in the shower problem I quickly get into areas where I just don't have the knowledge, skills and tools to fix the problem.

    hj, what a great idea about using CO2 with this kind of tool. Can a compressor be used also?

    Amyway this is a bit academic for me, since we've replaced most of the worst of the old cast iron pipe in our building I rarely break out the old snake at all.
  19. vsheetz

    vsheetz New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Where can I get a heavy duty quality drain bladder? I have the rubber ones from Home Depot and Lowes, they are easily damaged. I have heard their are ones with a canvas covering - this or similar is what I want.

    I use these to ease the priming of the pump on my pool (after you have had anything on the suction side of the system open, it makes it much easier to get the system full of water and the pump primed by dropping one of these in the skimmer pipe).

    Any ideas?

    thx!
    Vince
  20. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,450
    Location:
    Connecticut
    A good plumbing supply house.
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