I live in an older home and have a tub and bathroom sink that drain very
slowly. When I drain the sink, I can hear a gurgling in the tub drain and,
when I put a lot of water down the sink drain, some water will come up from
the tub drain into the tub. I've been putting some Drano down the drain
every two months or so, but am worried that this may damage my pipes in the
long run. I also have tried to get a snake down the tub overflow, but don't
think I'm even getting past the elbow that turns from vertical to horizontal
under the tub. Unfortunately, the first floor ceiling underneath the tub is
finished, so I can't really get at the trap (I'm assuming it's a drum trap).
So, 2 questions:
1. Is there a secret to getting the snake past that first 90 degree bend?
I'm able to get the snake through sink P traps with no problem, but can't
really figure out what's catching the snake under the tub.
2. Are there any other solutions other than the Drano that are less likely
to damage my pipes, but work for more than a couple of months?
Thanks in advance.
This sounds very typical of old houses. The tub drain runs over to the
stack and the lav basin drain ties in after the tub with a WYE.
Some drum traps can NOT be snaked. SOL
If chemicals don't work, run the snake down the basin drain.
Remove the trap and go right into the wall. If lucky, that will
get the snake past the WYE (where the clog probably is).
Plunging won't work on clogs like this because the pressure will
just go up the vent. The snake may not work either if *it* goes
up the vent. Listen in the wall for it. It's tricky; good luck.
I ended up running the entire snake in through the clean-out plug in the
sink's P trap and only encountered resistance in the last foot or so (I
think I have a 25' snake). Unfortunately, once I got everything back
together, I found that the tub didn't drain any better and the sink was
If I did go up the vent instead of down the drain, is it possible that I
pulled an obstruction from the vent down into the drain so that it's now
completely plugging the sink drain? Why would they make plumbing so that
it's more likely that the snake would run up the vent instead of down the
drain? What I can't figure out is why the sink is so stopped up while the
tub isn't any worse...that means the clog must be pretty close to the
bathroom since I'm assuming the sink and tub come together pretty close by.
Any ideas how I should proceed? Calling a plumber at this point seems like
I couldn't clear my bathroom sink. Tried everything. Finally went to
hardware store and bought a $7.00 can of
Sink drained well again.
Also if you don't have strong drain pipes don't use the product.
You *could* have gone up the vent and created a new clog just for
As I said, these can be very tricky and the home-handy snake just
won't get it. You can rent a hand-held powered snake which may be
better. Years ago, they often put the TEE for the sink trap offset
within the wall (left or right of center) making it very hard to get
the snake tip to go downward instead of up. Special tips that swivel
In really difficult cases that resist every technique, we sometimes
resort to making an opening in the vent just above the trap connection
(I don't mean in the roof stack vent). That allows the snake to go
downward toward the clog.
I finally was able to clear both drains--the tub and the sink--this weekend
by removing all the piping underneath the sink back to the rough-in and
snaking from there. Taking the P-trap off completely instead of just running
the snake through the clean-out plug gave me a better shot at getting the
snake down the drain instead of up the vent. I pulled out a fistfull of
nasty hair, rust, and other assorted gunk, but everything drains like a
champ now. Of course, in removing some of the old drain piping underneath
the sink, part of the rough-in pipe cracked off, and I had to hacksaw it
back a 1/2" and force the compression nut on it to work the thread, but
that's another story.
Thanks for everyone's advice and info.
I use a quart of Ammonia down each drain every month. Especially the ones
that have food or hair.
Assuming that you have a sink, pour a quart of Ammonia down the sink. Fill
the basin with hot water. Leaving the hot water on pull the plug and drain.
Now to the tub. You will need several inches of hot water to be effective.
Ammonia will cut the grease the hot water and the weight of the water will
move the residue down the drain. You may have to repeat increasing the level
of hot water in the tub to be successful.
This plan will do nothing for roots or other obstructions.
I have not used a snake in 20 years since starting this regimen
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