Plunging cause black sandy sluge backup, causing sink to drain into tub

Discussion in 'Drain Cleaning' started by SPFrancine, Jun 14, 2020.

  1. SPFrancine

    SPFrancine New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2020
    Location:
    NY
    Hi everyone,
    The bathtub always drained slow, grease & hair drain opener didn't work, I waited about a week and I got some "green" environmentally friendly drain opener, and it didn't do the job either. We blocked the overflow and used toilet plunger, and heard a lot of gurgles, and a lot of black tar-like sludge (laced with black sand, not a lot of hair just this black sand/sludge) came back.
    Up until this point our bathroom and kitchen sinks were draining fine, but now they are draining into our bathtub.

    Did I pull something out of vent or somewhere else that may caused this blockage?
    Thankfully toilet is not draining back into tub so my guess is that blockage is somewhere before the toilet, or our contractor connected the toilet directly to mainline.
    We are on 2nd floor.

    Here is a diagram of what I think might be happening? I don't want to keep plunging and push the blockage past toilet and cause more problems, but it seems to me like if I can push it past toilet, I might be able to push it into main line?

    Here is another little interesting fact. I was able to send 15' snake down through tub's overflow, it had some resistance but it made it all the way, but came back completely clean (except some brown water), no sludge, hair or anything else. Is it possible snake kept going wrong way, but where can it go? Vent?

    [​IMG]
     
  2. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    At the kitchen sink, if there is no clean out remove the trap and snake from there. As far as snaking from the tub overflow, it is possible that the snake went straight up to the vent after it the snake went past it's p-trap under the floor, but it's only a guess.
     
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  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Would the landlord or condo association be responsible for drain cleaning?

    If you are doing it, I like WorthFlorida's idea of snaking from the kitchen.

    If you are on the top floor, a professional might snake from a roof vent. You are liable to be injured if you try that.
     
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  5. SPFrancine

    SPFrancine New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2020
    Location:
    NY
    I should have taken a picture of my tub, basically it was black as if I spilled a planter and the potting soil was in my tub, except finer granules, pure black.

    Thank you WorthFlorida, Actually this morning before your post I went back, removed the drain plug from bathroom sink (one of those pop up ones, with a rod behind sink) and sent the snake in.
    In 1st try, there was some resistance, I kept rotating the drum ($20 HD manual snake) and was able to clear through and sent in full 15' through sink. In my first try, I pulled back a mold of what looked like soap, it was white so it was definitely soap but it looked like I drilled a hole through a blockage and pulled back a snake-tip sized chunk. I must have broken apart the blockage because my tub started flowing (still slow, but much better than before)
    However, when we ran both kitchen and bathroom sink together with large amount of water (such as filling and then opening drain plug) I still get back-up in the tub. This means there is still some blockage.
    I sent in the snake 2 more times from sink, both times it came back clean, but I can definitely hear the snake near the tub, snake must have gone in direction of the tub instead of "outlet" to main line.

    Hi Reach4,
    It's our private house. Brownstone style/condo attached 2-storey house in NYC. Built in 1931 renovated 2008 with supposedly new lines (except main) :( I will make sure to complain to myself (I have been doing that for a while, or should I say wife has been complaining to the landlord)
    Actually I was on my roof (flat roof) inspecting vents recently, I thought we had some bird/bug/critter in our lines, so I went up there and put some mesh over the vent pipes. We have two of them, I can go up there and is there a way to tell which one is which? Maybe have wife run some water and then put my ear up to pipe and listen for running water? I actually sent coax cable down there to see if there was any blockage, it came back with some yucky brown stuff (fecal matter? ugh).

    Here is what I think is happening with my drains, whoever installed it, did not install correct type of drain connector, I think water is not traveling direction of the main drain, either it's wrong directional connector, or just plain T connector, and makes it hard to send snake right direction.
    Either one of these:

    [​IMG]


    OR


    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2020
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I would get a drain cleaning specialist that knows your neighborhood. That person may snake down the vent lines from your roof. Just get your lines all cleaned every 50 years. ;-)
     
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  7. SPFrancine

    SPFrancine New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2020
    Location:
    NY
    Thanks. But my toilet flushes fine, my washing machine also drains fine without back-flow to tub. If these are all connected together, they should have issues too. Is it possible there is a vent for toilet, and another for sink/tub/kitchen?

    Every 50 years :) Lol. You know I have to get someone to clean my sewer clean-out U trap almost every 6 months, longest I went was about 1,5 yrs when I had someone hand-clean the U trap, but when they come in and just snake, it relieves pressure until it builds up again. (Lucky for us, back flow in the driveway, not in basement, thank god for lower grade driveway)

    I was planning to pour Green Gobbler "Mainline and Tub/Sink Opener" down tub tonight and let it sit overnight and flush in the morning with hot water. I did 1qt last night through sink, but I think it has hard time going past U trap under sink. Unless I dump whole half-gallon bottle, should have enough to push through trap.

    What do you think?
    Other thing is, about 5 years ago when we had similar issue, we had local plumber come in and use air pressure, he would pump up to x PSI and release, he did that 3 times and it was clear. Now that I remember he also had problem not being able to snake right pipe through overflow in tub.

    My house could be an interesting study material for plumbers.
     
  8. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I guess I was being optimistic. Still, next time you get rodded, consider a more though job.

    You might consider putting a hair strainer over the shower drain..

    Most areas have moved away from whole-house traps.
     
  9. SPFrancine

    SPFrancine New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2020
    Location:
    NY
    The plumber said I might have grading problem in the front, which prevents creating enough force to clean out debris and it gets stuck right before my U trap in the sewer out connection. They never really got any hair, and all my drains usually run fine (except for tub), he said it's all grease, soap and cooking oil stuff. My nasty sewer line is another topic. :(

    So it's possible I might have a vent for kitchen, and another for the bathroom, or I have one vent per floor, possibly.
    I can try to flush and see what happens.

    Is it easy to replug the Brass cleanout plug on P trap on kitchen drain?
     
  10. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I would look for a vent right above the lavatory as being most likely to do you some good for rodding.

    If you are talking about a little plug on the bottom of the U on the kitchen trap, those are not useful for rodding. They can let you drain water before pulling out the trap.

    Let's see a photo of where your kitchen trap into the wall. Maybe the same for the lavatory.
     
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  11. SPFrancine

    SPFrancine New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2020
    Location:
    NY
    I'll attach some pictures, just remembered our kitchen sink drain and wall drain was off-set or misaligned so they used some extra piping which I didn't want to mess with. Thanks for letting me know the plug is not for snaking/rodding.

    I decided not to mess with it and called a drain guy. He came in, sent the snake in through tub overflow first, no dice, I reminded him water is backing up when I run sinks, he said let's do this from kitchen then because he figured bathroom sink drain is narrower.
    He went in from kitchen, after about 5 minutes of snaking, way deep wherever he went, I noticed water draining from the tub, finally saw whirlpool after many years. He kept snaking, he came back and snaked a bit more from tub, and water was draining but less than satisfactory. Even with the shower head low flow, it gradually started filling up.

    It feels like it goes fast then super slow, then fast again towards the end when I see
    We still have some back up from the kitchen sink into tub if we run it too much or right after taking a shower.

    Would this be because there is still too much water in the system, and somehow draining water finds its way to tub instead of going down the regular drain? He said this doesn't not feel like a clog more like piping issue, maybe sagging somewhere, maybe the way they were connected, somehow causing water to kick back into tub.

    He also used air pressure to pump twice, I don't know what psi he used, but we plugged kitchen sink and I could feel the air from sink even with my hand on it.

    Still draining slow, we will run the dish washer later hoping dishwasher does not back up into tub. :(

    His suggestion was to open up the wall on side/corner of the tub or the ceiling from downstairs and figure out what is it that is making this so difficult. When we snake, nothing seems to come back, but when there is back-flow out of tub drain, it's always rusty-black-gunky and no matter how much he tried to snake from tub overflow, it just did not budge.
     
  12. SPFrancine

    SPFrancine New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2020
    Location:
    NY
    Here are the pictures as promised.
    Water is still backing up whenever we do anything even quick hand washing makes the water hit back through tub. Same from the kitchen sink, short cup washing, water out of tub.

    Kitchen
    1.jpg 2.jpg
    Bathroom Sink
    3.jpg 6.jpg 4.jpg

    Tub shortly after back-flow drained.
    5.jpg


    I can shoot some videos if anyone needs them.
    Toilet is fine (again, Thank God, at least we can use the toilet without worrying stuff will come out of tub. :( )

    Fair to say after spending 3+ hours today with drain professional, spending money on other stuff on my own, and still not being able to fix this is very disappointing and saddening. :( Total blow to our morale, especially during covid19.

    Oh and he said the drains must be totally separate, not same line as toilet, and probably join somewhere downstairs that's why he had to go so deep from kitchen sink to finally make some progress.
     
  13. SPFrancine

    SPFrancine New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2020
    Location:
    NY
    Here is a very interesting update, puzzling me but might be clear to plumbing pros here:

    This morning my wife was really upset she couldn't use diswasher or hand-wash dishes because water would immediately come up from tub.

    I figured, we plug the tub drain with the lever and give it a try.
    I plugged the drain at trip lever, filled the tub with about 1-2 gallon of water just to make sure it was sealed, and I dropped few drops of food coloring.
    It was still draining few drops at a time, fine, at least it's somehow sealed.

    Then we went to kitchen and ran the water, at least 2-3 minutes full force, feeling bad for wasting water.
    We shut the sink, wait 2-3 minutes, and I release the lever in the tub, I was expecting rush of water, noting happened.
    Tub trained, water didn't return from tub. Red food coloring down the drain.

    We just ran more water from kitchen, 2-3 minutes nothing.
    We ran the dishwasher just now, I can hear it draining, nothing is coming up from tub.

    How can this happen, one minute everything drains into bathtub,
    I seal the tub drain,
    Feels like (I imagine) I pushed an (imaginary) flap inside the pipes somewhere, forced the water to flow "right direction" and suddenly water knows which direction to flow (into main drain) instead of tub?

    I told my wife not to mess with tub drain plug lever, it seems to be working now with no back-flow.
    Any ideas/theories? If there was a clog water should still be back-flowing and coming out of tub, but it's not.
    Or
    by sealing the tub drain, we forced kitchen sink water to go right direction and push out the obstruction? Until next time?
     
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