Chronic Tub and Branch Drain Clogging

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by bet3z, Mar 2, 2006.

  1. bet3z

    bet3z New Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    I have a 2nd floor bathroom in a 50-year-old house with high-maintenance drains. The tub drain clogs every four months or so; snaking it pulls out a medium-sized hair clog. When we first moved in, the sink drain started to have problems. Water draining from it started bubbling up the tub drain, along with a fair amount of black gritty material. Clogged branch drain, I guess. I removed the trap from the sink and snaked out the drain. I had to replace the small stub of pipe coming out of the wall, and noticed that the drain appears to be galvanized steel, with some rust on the inside (welding itself shut?). Now, for the second time in two years, the branch drain has clogged again.

    The toilet seems to flush fine. The only hint of trouble from it is occasional movement of the water in the bowl, usually during windy days. I would imagine that this is due to wind blowing down the stack on the roof, which isn't too far from the bathroom, though I would not discount the possibility of a problem with the stack.

    Any suggestions? Perhaps I could rent an auger (more heavy-duty than my hand snake). Any particular size? Any particular cutter? I don't want to damage the pipes.

    I can rip up the floor if I have to, as I'll be doing it anyway to install a better substrate for ceramic tile. I'd rather not rip the walls apart if I can avoid it.



    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2009
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Sep 1, 2004
    Yakima WA
    I suspect the snake you have been using is too small. The best thing to do is to pay a couple of buck more and get the the drain augered by a professsional plumber who will have the "industrial strength" equipment to really clear the pipe. I know lots of us DIYers hate to spring for the pros, but sometimes it's not only the best thing to do, it may be no more expensive in the long run.
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  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Two years is not a frequent clog, especially if someone with a lot of long hair is washing it in the sink or shower. But any snake you have would be marginal for doing a long term cleaning anyway.
  5. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Aug 7, 2005

    Don't rip up the floor.

    My guess is that you only barely opened the drain. You need to aggressively clean that branch to the tub and lav. drains all the way into the main part of the sewer.

    I would start by going through the shower drain.

    A good cleaning should last many years unless someone in the house is extremely careless.
  6. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Nov 12, 2005
    A professional snake should open the drain better than what you are using. I have run into buildups that could not be removed with anything. Only pipe replacement. Like hj said every 4 months is not to bad. Is there a screen on the drain? How many people with long hair use this shower?
  7. bet3z

    bet3z New Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    We do use screens. I'd hate to see how often it would clog if we didn't. My wife's long hair gets everywhere.

    I've got to rip up the floor anyhow. We're putting down tile, and the subfloor needs some help. I figured if I was taking up the floor, I might as well replace some plumbing while it's accessible, if you folks think it would be worthwhile. I'm a bit worried that the galvanized steel pipes are slowly welding themselves shut. Are there any chemical cures I should try?

    For starters, I'll try a heavy-duty snake. I'll get the "medium-sized" one. Let me know if I should try anything beyond that.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2006
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