How to remove all sludge buildup in an old galvanized drain pipe

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atulc

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I am faced with extreme sludge buildup in a 25' run of a 50+ year old 2" galvanized drain pipe. This pipe is draining only the kitchen sink. The kitchen is at the opposite end of the house from baths and septic system. The 25' section is resting on top of a cinderblock foundation in a finished basement. So, there is no easy access to this drain pipe. The first place that I could access the pipe without removing sheetrock etc., I cut the drain pipe, installed a PVC test tee, and replaced the remaining 20' run of the pipe with PVC.

I need to snake this drain pipe often. So I purchased a Milwaukee M18 2772A-21 drain snake kit that comes with a 5/16" x 35' inner core bulb-head cable. Below is a picture taken through the PVC test tee after snaking the galvanized pipe using the Milwaukee drain snake and cable. Sorry, this is the best picture I could take. It shows the galvanized pipe full of sludge except that the snake cable made about a 1/2" tunnel through the sludge. The kitchen sink drains slower than I'd like it to.

What's the best way to get rid of all the sludge in the galvanized pipe? Here are a few options that I'm aware of but all have their own downsides.
  • General Wire ClogChopper - what size should I use to clear all the sludge in a 2" pipe? While it might clear the galvanized pipe, would it damage the PVC pipe once it goes past the galvanized section? The Milwaukee cable I have doesn't support attachments. What cable should I use on the Milwaukee M18 drain snake that would allow the use of a ClogChopper?
  • Milwaukee 3/8" x 35' Inner Core Coupling Cable with the Milwaukee 5PC Small Cable Head Attachment Kit. This attachment kit includes a 1" C-cutter which would probably make a 1" tunnel through the sludge. This might be better than the 1/2" tunnel but, in my opinion, won't remove all the sludge.
  • GreenGobbler enzyme drain cleaner - don't know how well it would work and how long it would take to clear most of the built up sludge.
  • Hydro jetting - might puncture a very old galvanized pipe. It would certainly damage the PVC section of the drain.
Any suggestions from the experts on which of the above to try first and if there are better options? Thanks.

Drain Pipe Sludge - 1.jpeg
 

Tuttles Revenge

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I don't do a lot of drain cleaning, but I've done my fair share. Your best bet is to cable the drain to get water flowing and religiously use an enzyme agent to maintain the pipe.. Jetting will damage the steel. If its a soft blockage like kitchen goo.. then big heads really are just pushing through without clearing.

by religious I mean the type that actually goes to church every day.. not just once a year.
 

atulc

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I don't do a lot of drain cleaning, but I've done my fair share. Your best bet is to cable the drain to get water flowing and religiously use an enzyme agent to maintain the pipe.. Jetting will damage the steel. If its a soft blockage like kitchen goo.. then big heads really are just pushing through without clearing.

by religious I mean the type that actually goes to church every day.. not just once a year.

Thanks for the suggestion. I love your daily churchgoing analogy.
 

John Gayewski

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I think I would replace that even if it sucks to go through doing it. Snaking pipes is against my religion.
 

Terry

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I think I would replace that even if it sucks to go through doing it. Snaking pipes is against my religion.

It's against my religion too. People keep assuming I have the tools for that, Nope!
I like the enzyme cleaners to keep the grease down. Sometimes it's better to bite the bullet though and replace if needed. You can try the enzymes first though. It's a cheap fix when it helps.
 

Reach4

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When you put your new plastic in, consider adding a cleanout, and one through a wye would be easier to use.
Then get a professional drain cleaner pro in with a big dangerous machine to cut out the crud. I am not a pro.

Maybe your test tee is a good cleanout.
 

atulc

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I think I would replace that even if it sucks to go through doing it. Snaking pipes is against my religion.
It's against my religion too. People keep assuming I have the tools for that, Nope!
I like the enzyme cleaners to keep the grease down. Sometimes it's better to bite the bullet though and replace if needed. You can try the enzymes first though. It's a cheap fix when it helps.

Terry, John,
Thanks for your guidance. Good to know that there are no magical tools for solving this problem.
I will try frequent treatment with enzyme cleaners and see if that helps. If not, I know I'd need to bite the bullet and replace the galvanized pipe with PVC.

When you put your new plastic in, consider adding a cleanout, and one through a wye would be easier to use.
Then get a professional drain cleaner pro in with a big dangerous machine to cut out the crud. I am not a pro.

Maybe your test tee is a good cleanout.

Reach4,
Thanks. You're right, the test tee can serve as a cleanout too. For now, I'll use an enzyme cleaner and see if it helps.
 

Tuttles Revenge

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Just make sure to run the snake through first and flush as best as you can. That way the enzymes have less Hail Marys to say while in church.
 

Sylvan

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I don't do a lot of drain cleaning, but I've done my fair share. Your best bet is to cable the drain to get water flowing and religiously use an enzyme agent to maintain the pipe.. Jetting will damage the steel. If its a soft blockage like kitchen goo.. then big heads really are just pushing through without clearing.

by religious I mean the type that actually goes to church every day.. not just once a year.
Jetting will NOT damage the piping and Jetting is best suited for soft stoppages such as grease and soil

Snaking is great for hard stoppages rags, roots, mineral deposits THEN water jet the lines as a finishing tool to restore full flow

I do a little under 1 million a year doing sewer and drain cleaning

Plumbing and heating is my main money maker as being an expert witness

Using a cable in a lead pipe or old galvanized or CI can punch a hole though it

Water Jetting does NOT built up pressure. Think of water jetting like using a water pick for cleaning teeth.

The high pressure does not blow holes through the cheeks or gums but it does scour the spaces between the teeth

Also my jetters have various GPM and pressure ratings

From 1,500 PSI and 2 GPM to over 3,500 PSI 12 GPM and a 4,000 PSI and 4 GPM for 2-6" storm lines and kitchen waste

In this picture you will see a 3/4 Cable going doing a storm line in a parking lot and a 1/2" Hose from a large Jetter 12 GPM @ 3,500 PSI

The reason for various jetters as sometime we need more pressure to scour and more volume to flow debris down stream

Same reasoning why I have 1/8 cables and 11/4 cables
 

atulc

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Just make sure to run the snake through first and flush as best as you can. That way the enzymes have less Hail Marys to say while in church.

Tuttles Revenge,
Of course I will run the snake first. And I might find my religion by the time I'm done with this!

Jetting will NOT damage the piping and Jetting is best suited for soft stoppages such as grease and soil

Snaking is great for hard stoppages rags, roots, mineral deposits THEN water jet the lines as a finishing tool to restore full flow

I do a little under 1 million a year doing sewer and drain cleaning

Plumbing and heating is my main money maker as being an expert witness

Using a cable in a lead pipe or old galvanized or CI can punch a hole though it

Water Jetting does NOT built up pressure. Think of water jetting like using a water pick for cleaning teeth.

The high pressure does not blow holes through the cheeks or gums but it does scour the spaces between the teeth

Also my jetters have various GPM and pressure ratings

From 1,500 PSI and 2 GPM to over 3,500 PSI 12 GPM and a 4,000 PSI and 4 GPM for 2-6" storm lines and kitchen waste

In this picture you will see a 3/4 Cable going doing a storm line in a parking lot and a 1/2" Hose from a large Jetter 12 GPM @ 3,500 PSI

The reason for various jetters as sometime we need more pressure to scour and more volume to flow debris down stream

Same reasoning why I have 1/8 cables and 11/4 cables

Sylvan,
Thanks for sharing your experience and insights. I will try snaking followed by enzymatic cleaners first and, if that doesn't work, I will consider hydro jetting. Since the drain is in my own house, I have the luxury of time. I can give enzyme cleaners a month or two to do their work.
 

Reach4

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Atulc, click inbox, above.

For grease, I will take a minority opinion that a lye (sodium hydroxide) drain cleaner may be a good deal. The big downside is that it is harmful to people who come in contact, so that if work is needed, the plumber would need to be informed so that precautions would be taken.

But the deal is that lye+grease makes soap. Soap washes away. Many lye-based crystal drain cleaners include aluminum chips which react with the lye to make heat. Heat increases reaction speed.

Now is lye harmful to galvanized pipe, I don't think so, but I could be mistaken. I am not a plumber or other pro.
https://www.drano.com/en-us/explore-clog-basics/frequently-asked-questions is going to be biased, but they are also time-tested. But again, these are harmful to people who come in contact.
 
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