Drain snaked for 20+ feet, still backs up with a few cups of water

Discussion in 'Drain Cleaning' started by JTK, Oct 6, 2015.

  1. JTK

    JTK New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2015
    Location:
    Denver, Colorado
    Hey everybody,

    I've done some searching on the clog threads, but i am not finding anything quite like this problem. We have a bathroom in the basement of our ranch style house. There is a bathroom in the basement, positioned close to the stack. The shower and toilet are draining fine, but the sink is not. It had been draining very slowly, so i decided to disassemble the p-trap and clean it out, along with the shot vertical drain run from the sink. All clear, hook it back up, now it doesn't drain AT ALL!
    OK, take apart the P-trap again, now it's time to hand-auger the horizontal run that disappears into the wall (and presumably into the stack, which is right there). I get at least 15-20 feet of the snake to disappear into the pipe, pull it out expecting a bunch of goop, but NOTHING!
    OK, time to auger some more, another 15-20 feet of snake, met resistance a couple of times and was able to crank the auger and keep going. Pull it out again. See the smallest bit of hair on the end, but nothing big. Reassemble p-trap and drainpipe. Run the water - STILL CLOGGED.
    Try plunger - STILL CLOGGED.
    Disassemble p-trap to drain water, empty the P-tram and horizontal and vertical runs as far as i can reach.
    Reassemble p-trap and drain. Run warm water. CLOGGED AND PRETTY MUCH NO DRAINAGE after only a few cups of water.
    Seems impossible to get my head around the situation, as there seems to be a clog kicking in for the most minimal amount of water even when i can snake tens of feet. It doesn't seem like i'm even running enough water to fill the pipe that i KNOW is clear, much less the rest of the distance where the snake is going. Like, a couple of cups of water and the drain is COMPLETELY CLOGGED. Maybe drains at a rate of less than 1 CUP of water per hour.

    This is BAFFLING to me. Any thoughts would be most appreciated.

    Regards,
    JTK
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Clogged tailpiece?

    If not, think you could get results from a Brasscraft drain bladder?
     
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  4. JTK

    JTK New Member

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    Oct 6, 2015
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    Thanks for the reply.

    Definitely not the tailpiece, i can literally see through it to the cabinet below when i remove the trap.

    As for the bladder, i could try it, but i'm not really finding any noticeable blockage with the auger so i don't have a high confidence that the bladder will do much. In addition, i likely could only get the bladder in about 4-5 feet, maybe even less, before the first sharp turn.
     
  5. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    The bladder swells up and sprays water ahead. That water will either push its way through the drain, or will climb the vent system.

    I presume you have also checked for blockage in the trap and the trap arm.

    So it may be that your snake is so small that the hole it goes through does not permit more than a cup of water per hour? That would be hard to believe. Or the blockage is downstream, in which case some other fixture would be having problems.

    How about a photo of the area under the sink.
     
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2015
  6. JTK

    JTK New Member

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    Oct 6, 2015
    Location:
    Denver, Colorado
    OK, sounds like it's worth a shot.


    Yep, totally clean and clear.

    Agreed, that doesn't seem at all possible. Even a hole the exact size of the snake would take longer to fill up than it is taking now.

    Agreed again. I have a toilet and showe drain in the near vicinity, and no problems there.

    Thanks for the help so far. I'll snap a few pics tonight, should have thought of that before.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2015
  7. JTK

    JTK New Member

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    Oct 6, 2015
    Location:
    Denver, Colorado
    Here are some photos. The picture of the cup is how much water will run before the drain completely backs up. It seems like the horizontal run out of the trap will hold more water than that on it's own, so it is very confusing.

    The shower and toilet in the last photo are draining fine.

    The stack appears to be behind the toilet/beside the sink, hidden by the wall.

    Still baffled.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    IL
    The pictures illustrates what you can see well.

    What I would do is to disconnect the trap from the 1-1/2 inch galvanized trap arm. I would shove a BrassCraft Medium Drain Bladder (for 1.5 to 3 inch pipes), connected to the hose, into the galvanized trap arm. I would put a bucket underneath to collect misc dripping. Then I would yell to whoever is at the hose control to turn it off. I would want observers at plumbing spots to be able to yell at the hose control person to turn the water off if water starts coming from somewhere.

    What the Drain Bladder does is to swell up from water until the pipe stops its expansion and the pressure in the hose rises. Then a stream of vibrating water is sprayed from the tip. If it were facing a clog, that could erode the clog. That is not going to be the mode that helps in your case. The flow is maybe 2 or so GPM I would estimate. So this will apply a pressure to your sewer line. The water will go somewhere except in the case of the strongest clogs -- another drain, or maybe even a roof vent.

    In the best case, this cures the problem. If there is a blockage that does not wash away, the situation may be identified by water coming out somewhere rather than making its way to the sewer as it should.

    I am not a plumber, and what I would do may not be the best thing.
     
  9. JTK

    JTK New Member

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    Thanks, it's worth a shot.

    Opinion question: is it weird that it seems that the stack is, like, right on the other side of the wall? I just cant understand what could be stuck and why i can jam in 20 feet of snake but 2 cups of water will cause the sink to start to fill up.
     
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Yes.

    The simplest theory that I can come up with is that the snake is following the vent line up rather than down to the clogged drain line in the wall. I am not saying that is probably happening, but it would match the symptoms.
     
  11. JTK

    JTK New Member

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    one more question, is there any major risk in using the bladder? my main concern is to also clog the shower and toilet, which are currently working fine.
     
  12. JTK

    JTK New Member

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    Oct 6, 2015
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    Denver, Colorado
    SUCcESS!!!


    Reach4, thanks for the tip on the bladder. Worked like a charm. No idea why the snake did what it did, but the bladder worked in just a few minutes.

    One more thing i noticed when i was checking for the stack location and cleanout, it looks like that sink drain may have gone into what looked like an auxiliary stack, but the aux was positioned right next to the main. Not sure why that would be like that, unless it was an addition and easier to do it that way?

    ANYHOO, thanks again. Confusing problem, crazy simple solution.
     
  13. freeflow

    freeflow Semi retired master plumber

    Joined:
    Aug 4, 2009
    Occupation:
    plumber drain cleaner
    Location:
    alabama
    I would run my small electric machine with 1/4 inch cable thru the trap approx 10 to 15 ft turn machine and water on at same time whatever blockage is it will wash out if cable does not go up stack?
     
  14. j thomas

    j thomas New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2017
    Location:
    Springfield, Virginia
    Hey guys,



    I’ve come across this same situation as JTK, but with a different out come.

    I flushed the drain with the bladder and ran water for a constant 15-20 minutes. I did here the drain clear and then water moving as it should in a cleared pipe, so I put the p trap back on and ran a tiny bit of water and it still backed up.

    At this point I take everything back apart. I put the bladder back in and run the water all the way open like before. I gave it ten minutes and decided to check the vent stacks on the roof. I can clearly hear the water going down and also faintly see the water running down the pipe.

    I figured this was good, so I put everything back together. I ran water again and same thing happened.

    If anyone has an idea, please let me know.
     
  15. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
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    With the P-trap removed, put a container under the tailpiece. Pour a cup of water into the sink. Does the cup of water fall immediately into the container?

    Next inspect the P-trap and trap arm for a clog. If that is white plastic, you can backlight that and look for a clog. You can also carry it to the tub. Drop water into the P-trap, and make sure it come freely out of the trap arm.

    One final thing... make sure the trap arm is not so long that it goes too far into the sanitary tee.
     
  16. j thomas

    j thomas New Member

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    Sep 27, 2017
    Location:
    Springfield, Virginia
    All is clear, I replaced the p-trap, arm and tail when I first had issues. Everything looks to be proper but still not draining.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2017
  17. j thomas

    j thomas New Member

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    Sep 27, 2017
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  18. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Did you really run a snake in 20 ft as JTK did?

    After the drain sits unused overnight, how many cups of water does it take for your drain to back up?

    How far down did you get the drain bladder inserted? You want to push it down far -- ideally where the line turns from down vertically to horizontal.

    You will probably need a plumber or drain cleaning specialist. Or at least, you will need a more serious snake. Handling of a serious snake is best left to the pros. You could seriously injure yourself.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2017
  19. j thomas

    j thomas New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2017
    Location:
    Springfield, Virginia
    I ran the snake closer to 12-15 feet and this morning I could put about 3 cups in.

    The weird thing is that I used the bladder and clearly heard it clear the restriction.

    Also, the second time I used the bladder I verified the flow of water visually from the exhaust pipe on my roof.

    Maybe it’s a pressure issue. Idk
     
  20. j thomas

    j thomas New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2017
    Location:
    Springfield, Virginia
    4F7FAD1D-1F06-4F1C-A3C7-DF8EEBEC31F7.jpeg DC26A700-1561-44EF-A101-B43659DD7D26.jpeg Heres what I found while investigating from the kitchen wall behind the sink. I think everyone here would enjoy it.

    Safety first right!!

    Smh, why did I buy this house..
     
  21. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    You should not be able to see the flow of water from the roof if the bladder is headed down the drain line. The bladder should puff up, and the water should be flowing down. So nothing to see from above. If you are only putting the drain bladder into the trap adapter, that will not be able to pressurize the clog, and it will not be able to direct the vibrating stream to the clog. If you are unable to turn the corner down, how about inserting the drain bladder through the roof vent, and continue it down past the sanitary tee.
     
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