Deep Pipe Clog - Epic Battle

Discussion in 'Drain Cleaning' started by digi, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. digi

    digi New Member

    Jan 30, 2013
    San Francisco
    Hi plumbing experts,

    I have a deep, deep bathroom sink pipe clog on the upstairs 2nd level in a 40 year old house and we've even had a plumber out and he couldn't fix it... in fact, he inadvertently made it worse.

    My question is, how could a plumber possibly get a hold of a clog from a distance that is further away from the clog, from underneath the house, cutting in to a main drain pipe, that he couldn't get out from just a few feet away at the sink drain level where the sink is clogged on the 2nd level of the house?


    The water would start filling the sink after only running for about 3 seconds, then it would take overnight to drain down again. I had just started using a little plastic tub in the sink and I would just dump the water in the toilet every so often because the sink became completely non-functional.

    First I tried with taking off the curved trap pipe underneath the sink and taking off the pipe that goes in to the wall to let out all the water, then I went to it with a long, strong metal snake, and I thought I got it in there for about 20 feet worth, but then when I pulled it back out I could see that the snake and just curled up inside the pipe somewhere only about 5 or 10 feet down, so that didn't do any good.

    Then I put the wall pipe back on and poured some Draino into the pipe until it was full. I left that over night and that didn't fix it.

    So we called the plumber out with his motorized drain rooter. He went at it for a while, rooted the drain from the wall twice, and at first he made it a little better so the water could run for about 3 minutes before it started to fill up again. So he hoped he could break the clog loose by rooting it a third time, but apparently his rooter latched on to the clog and pulled it up further in to the pipe, and now the clog has pretty much completely sealed the drain shut and it fills up immediately and never really drains out at all.

    That plumber said he could see that he made it worse after first making it better and he now says he'll need to get underneath the house and torch cut some main pipe under the house and then use the same type of rooting machine to try to get a hold of the clog from beneath, but the clog and the clogged drain are on the 2nd story of this house.

    So it cost me $120 to make my sink worse so it is completely non-functional now and it doesn't drain at all, and the clog is apparently closer to the drain now than it was before because it starts filling the sink immediately when I run the water at all.

    So I told that plumber that I'd think about paying more to have him go under the house with his new plan.

    Now, after reading some stuff on the topic, I tried taking off the trap pipe again to let out the water, then I put it back together and poured a full, large bottle Draino in the drain to hopefully get to the clog which is apparently closer than ever to the sink drain now.

    Then the next day, yesterday, I plugged and covered that overflow drain hole, put a plastic bag over the sink with the plunger stick coming through the plastic bag for splash safety, and I plunged it and plunged it, still with no success getting the clog to release.

    Now today, as a last ditch effort, I read up some more about it and I plugged all the other drains in the house to create more pressure, put some hot water in the sink, really plugged that overflow hole, and I plunged the holy-heck out of that drain five times with a very tight plunger seal... it dredged up some dirt and I could tell it was really creating pressure on that overflow hole while I held a wet towel in place there plugging it very tight, but the clog still won't release.

    So again, to reiterate, my question is, how could a plumber possibly get a hold of a clog from a distance that is further away from the clog, from underneath the house, cutting in to a main drain pipe, that he couldn't get out from just a few feet away at the sink drain level where the sink is clogged on the 2nd level of the house?

    Thanks for any help and any suggestions on how I might handle this myself, since plumbers don't have camera guided nuclear missiles to take out this kind of tough clog, which is apparently what we need here.

    Thanks a lot,

    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
  2. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Jan 5, 2008
    Test, Don't Guess!
    Land of Cheese
    If the plumbing is properly vented, plunging will not work because the air just goes out the vent. Did you not ever read that Draino ruins pipes, injures plumbers, and does nothing for clogs?

    Without knowing how the drains are installed it would be hard to speculate on the best way to repair the problem. Most of us would try the easiest ways first, and carry on from there.
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  4. digi

    digi New Member

    Jan 30, 2013
    San Francisco
    Hi cacher_chick,

    I'm guessing if the clog was made of cheese, you'd know what to do. :^)

    I've heard some things about Draino hurting some kinds of pipes, but in fact this plumber is the one who recommended trying the Draino procedure I described after he made the situation worse by apparently pulling the clog closer to the drain. I won't be using that drain at all if this clog isn't cleared.

    I've been able to clear clogged pipes with Draino in the past. Plumbers hating Draino may be compared to a carburetor repairman hating carburetor cleaner, since it helps to avoid going to the carburetor repairman, but either way, you'll have to admit to yourself that people use Draino, Liquid Plumber, etc. in their pipes, and often the pipes don't explode as a result.

    The plumber isn't crediting me for the time he wasted making things worse, and nope, I'm not taking the Draino back either, since it's in the pipes now... but the Draino didn't cost $120, nor did it make the clog and the whole situation worse.

    If I take my car to the carburetor repairman and he makes my clogged carburetor worse, would he charge me for that waste of time? Might he credit the charges for that time wasted toward a procedure that might actually make the situation better instead of worse?... I'd hope so, or I'd never go back to him. Same thing with a plumber. Plumbers aren't doctors who get paid no matter how much worse they make things, and doctors run the risk of getting sued for malpractice... do plumbers? And I've never heard of a 12 year long plumber's school requirement. Glad to know plumbers can get paid no matter the outcome of thier work... in my line of work, if I don't get the job done, no one will pay me... that seems to be the way the rest of the world works too, pretty much.

    My architect/contractor grandfather built this house in 1973, so I still have the original house plans, but they don't show a plumbing plan, and having dabbled in architectural plans myself, I've still never seen a plumbing plan, and not for this house either, though that would be great.

    "The easiest way first."... let me make a note of that. So when a chef makes a cheese souffle, for example, just getting a frozen one and popping it in the microwave would be the way to go since that's "the easiest way first"... good advice for brain surgeons too!


  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    I have NEVER had to go under the house and cut the pipes. He either does NOT have an "industrial grade" snake or he does not know how to use it, period. But, if he onlly charged you $120.00 for the time he has spent so far, at least you have not wasted a lot of money. I would probably charge you a lot more, and it depends on how long it takes, but the sink/tub would run when I finished.
  6. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Sep 1, 2004
    Yakima WA
    I would seriously question your plumbers credentials. No plumbers that I know of that frequent this forum ever recommend using any chemical drain cleaner (Rid X is the exception) As HJ points out, a professional industrial grade snake anda skilled operator is needed here. DIY snakes rarely clear a clog, in fact often make them worse. I'd suggest you get a different plumber and for God sake quit pouring caustic chemicals in there!
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