mortar from tile job is stuck in P-trap

Discussion in 'Shower & bathtub Forum & Blog' started by heyjack, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. heyjack

    heyjack Home builder

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Dallas,TX
    Help! My tileman allowed excessive mortar into the 2 in P-trap in a shower drain. Its in a slab and so far I have gotten rid of it to where the trap turns upward, primarily with muriatic acid and shop vac. A power rooter won't bend enough with a head on it. I'm reduced to jabbing at it with a toilet auger. Any ideas/tools on attacking this problem? Its a new house ready for occupancy so I dread tearing out the shower pan/slab with its associated costs and risks of hitting cables,etc. Thanks for any help.
  2. make the tile man fix it.....

    go to sears and get the longest screwdriver
    you can buy and try to poke through the trap with that..

    also I have had some luck before with just bending a 2 foot 1/2 piece of copper flat
    on the end for about 6 inches worth of copper , then sort of bending the
    flat copper like a half moon and try pokeing that through......



    if the trap is too deep in the floor then you are screwed beyond hope....

    your tile man is a total idiot and should have to pay
    for the damages....
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2008
  3. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    I'd say your tileman has a new shower to tile after the plumber fixes the pipe in the floor.
  4. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,308
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    If you can get all of that mortar out, the rough surface will alway catch hair and clog the drain. As Redwood says, the tile man has tile job to redo and a plumber's bill to pay for replacing the trap. Too bad, but he should have taken precautions.
  5. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    This is a case where full-strength muriatic acid is called for.

    Vacuum all of the water out of the trap. Close up the bathroom and ventilate it with window open and fan on.

    Then, WITH PERSONAL PROTECTION AGAINST SPLASH, slowly pour muriatic acid into the presumably plastic trap. After 24 hours, try to wash it out with plain water and see if it is clear.

    Repeat one more time. If that doesn't break it up so it can be cleaned out with a sewer auger then it probably can't be done that way.
  6. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,270
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    auger

    There is almost no auger that will drill through cement or grout. If you can get a little flow going then muriatic acid will eventually open it, but if there is no flow, then putting the acid in the drain and then sucking the spent acid out will be hazardous and time consuming.
  7. krow

    krow Plumber

    Messages:
    906
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    The 1st thing on your list to do, "Fire your tile man"

    2nd, back charge him for what its going to cost to remove the mortar out of the trap , whether a plumber can rod it, it will be unlikely.

    It took myself and an associate plumber 4 hours to try and snake and plunge a 3"trap full of thinset and grout in a community centre public bathroom floor drain. I was very close to removing the 3" cast iron trap from below, where the main offices were. Man, that tile setter was kicked out on his butt so quick, he didn't know what hit him. Management went after him for my labour and time lost.
  8. heyjack

    heyjack Home builder

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Dallas,TX
    Thanks for the suggestions. I'll try the acid straight and see how it goes. The frustrating part now is not knowing how close I am to breaking thru. I'll be extra pissed if I tear it all out to find myself almost there.
  9. srdenny

    srdenny Plumbing Contractor

    Messages:
    361
    Location:
    SF Peninsula
    Rather than using muriatic acid, a friend of mine swears by Coca-Cola.
  10. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    Man, I love this forum. That's some amazing free professional counsel!
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,817
    Location:
    New England
    Acid will disolve the calcium in the mortar leaving just the sand and other components of the mix. Some mortars are modified, and if mixed properly by the end user (a lot aren't!), entirely coat the mortar. If it is modified mortar (thinset), it is much harder to break it down than say cement or a sand mix. The more aggressive the acid, the quicker it can happen, but some of the laytex addatives are pretty resiliant to most acids - it takes abrasion and aggitation to scrub the laytex off to expose the cement to ultimately break it up.

    If you take a sea shell, and set it in a bowl with Coke, it will disolve eventually (if there is enough and the shell is small enough). But, there's no laytex modifier coating it either.
  12. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    FYI, Coke has a decent % of phosphoric acid in it. It's 'safe'? for consumption bkz the acids in yr stomach break it down reasonably well.

    I can't say the same for my car: A few yrs back I left a can of coke in my cupholder overnight in January. It exploded. Got a little - I mean a little - bit in the gear shifter. A few months later after it kept sticking and acting funny, I took it to a mechanic.

    To his consternation, the entire gear assembly had been stripped and eaten through. He said, "Looks like this car sniffed too much coke [cocain]".

    "Yup", says me.

    There's a book out there somewhere about all the scary things u can do with coca-cola.
  13. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    That little bit of phosphoric acid ain't jack compared to stomach acid!:eek:

    The last drain that I cut out because of grout only had 3' of 3" PVC filled with grout!:eek: Good luck! Its sawzall time baby!:D
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