Can a 60 year old steel trap rust inside and block a plumbing snake?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by tbbarch, Nov 16, 2013.

  1. tbbarch

    tbbarch Member

    Sep 24, 2008
    I have a tub drain that stopped on me. The tub drain has stopped a few times but usually I get it cleared with some plunging. This is the first time I have ever snaked the tub drain.

    I opened the overflow and fed a 3/8" diameter snake 30" down into the pipe. This puts the end of the snake at the bottom of the trap based on measuring down through the access panel.

    When I turn the snake, CW or CCW, it catches on something and turning and pushing just torques the snake without pushing it through the trap. Though the trap looks like a tight turn it does not look like the snake would not follow it and it is hard to think the bend would bind the snake.

    Repeated efforts got water to free flow through the drain without ever pulling anything up or getting the snake through the trap.

    The drain opening does not have cross bars or anything to stop an object from going down the drain.
    Could something big enough to stick in the trap get past the 90 below the drain opening?

    Could there be rust build up inside the trap and would putting some muriatic acid down the pipe eat away the corrosion?

    In my past experience a rusty sink trap will rupture very easily if poked hard with a snake. The tub trap is a much more substantial piece of metal attached to galvanized steel pipe. Would the rust be what is holding the trap together and the acid only open the problem up to a complete replacement?
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Sep 25, 2013
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  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Yes to most of your questions, but the trap, if it is a "P" trap, and not a drum trap, could have a 3/4" cleanout plug in the bottom which will not only catch the snake, but make it almost impossible to go around it. And some cast iron (not steel) traps have a very "short radius" at the bottom which will also refuse to be snaked.

    MASTERPLUMB777 In the Trades

    Aug 6, 2007
    Retired Master Plumber
    I would not normally run a 3/8" cable though a bathtub p-trap but a 1/4" or a 5/16"
    cable with a electric powered snake to run it and it goes right through
    you almost can never get a hand cranked snake though such a drain and definitely
    not a 3/8" cable
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 17, 2013
  6. tbbarch

    tbbarch Member

    Sep 24, 2008
    The trap is a 'P' trap. I did not know drum traps existed before.
    There is no clean out plug.
    I suppose the 3/8" snake was binding. I will leave well enough alone for now, or until I can try a smaller diameter snake.
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