Clogged tub drain

There are two tub/showers in the house and I never used one of them (call it tub B, which is on the 2nd floor) until the other wasn't usable for a couple of weeks. So, I use tub B and discover that it's clogged.
1. 3 Draino treatments don't help.
2. Snaking doesn't help.
3. Trying to blast the obstruction out with pressure from a hose just backs water up the vent pipe.
4. I try a tougher snake - it's made from a stiff wire and has a business end, and you can shove it hard against the obstruction. I insert it into the vent pipe directly from above. This gets me nowhere.
What I don't understand is this: The blockage (which feels solid) appears to be about 3 feet ABOVE where the tub drain joins the vent pipe on its way to the ground where it meets the sewer piping. What's going on here? Thanks for any ideas.
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ball??????....... use a camera

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Dan_Musicant wrote:

> QUOTE: "Trying to blast the obstruction out with pressure from a hose just backs water up the vent pipe."
That tells you that the vent connection is *not* blocked.
The tub drain likely meanders about until it joins (perhaps) the basin drain and finally into the stack. The clog may be all the way down where it meets the basin drain at a WYE and there could be several 90's along the way.
My point is that these clogs can be very difficult to snake out; it takes a professional-sized machine (even a hand-held) to do it.
Often, a common snake will simply go *up* the vent after leaving the tub trap instead of continuing down the drain. Very difficult to control. A snake with a "down-head boring tool" may be able to make it down the drain.
Rent a machine or hire someone...
Jim
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: > QUOTE: "Trying to blast the obstruction out with pressure from a : hose just backs water up the vent pipe." : :That tells you that the vent connection is *not* blocked. : :The tub drain likely meanders about until it joins (perhaps) :the basin drain and finally into the stack. The clog may :be all the way down where it meets the basin drain at a WYE :and there could be several 90's along the way. : :My point is that these clogs can be very difficult to snake out; :it takes a professional-sized machine (even a hand-held) to do it. : :Often, a common snake will simply go *up* the vent after leaving :the tub trap instead of continuing down the drain. Very difficult :to control. A snake with a "down-head boring tool" may be able :to make it down the drain. : :Rent a machine or hire someone... : :Jim
Thanks! I think I should add some details. The house is very old (1913). Very little if any of the plumbing has been upgraded.
Taking a shower in that tub, the water would build up around my feet to 3-4 inches. After a few minutes, after I turned off the water it would drain away. After a couple more showers, and failed Draino tries (3 one-tablespoon applications), it would take more than 1/2 hour (maybe an hour or more) for the water to go down. When there was a lot of water in the tub, the sink drained very very slowly, all of a sudden. I believe the toilet didn't drain as well as usual, too. Otherwise, the sink and toilet seemed OK. I believe the sink and tub drain into a large vent stack that goes down to the ground and up to the roof - a stack about 4 inches internal diameter, and it's attached to the outside of the 2 story house. The tub, however, appears to connect to a 2 inch vent stack that goes up to the roof and then down through the walls all the way to the ground, where you can see where it comes out of the wall and angles into the ground. I presume it joins the 4 inch stack underground.
There was a crew of jack-of-all-trades kind of guys working on the downstairs bathroom (partial remodel) and I told the guy who I was told had a fair amount of plumbing experience about the clog in the upstairs tub. He tried to unscrew the drain fitting in the tub and the cross piece of stainless steel just broke off instead of the whole thing twisting out. Then he tries the plunger. Then he gets an AC powered device out of his truck and hooks it up and tells me to hook up a hose from out the bathroom window to the hose spigot at ground level and turn on the water.
After 5-10 minutes he tells me to turn off the water. A few minutes later he tells me to turn it back on. I wait for word to turn it off and I hear nothing for 15-20 minutes and start to worry. I run up the stairs and he's at the top of the stairs giving me the cut-throat turn the damn thing off sign! I run back down, turn off the water and run back upstairs and see that the room next to the bathroom has water pouring out of the ceiling! Panicky, I put 5 gallon buckets around the room to catch the water and he climbs into the attic and says the water had been squirting out of the vent pipe, which had a couple of small holes between the floor and ceiling of the attic. That vent pipe, which had been within the exterior walls in the 1st and 2nd story, was exposed in the attic. Luckily, a heat spell was just hitting town, and after 2-3 days, everything had pretty much dried out with the help of a 20" box fan in the attic and some open windows.
A guy who was helping me last week cut the vent pipe at those holes in the attic (they are 2" apart in that pipe), saying we could snake the vent pipe out from where we made the cut (we shoved the portion above the cut aside, so we could get the snakes down the vent from that point). He brought a couple we can use to rejoin the two sections of vent pipe after we are done snaking. He insisted that he was certain that the vent pipe went straight down to the ground and that the tub drains into the vent pipe and that the clog was in that vent pipe. Why else would the snakes not get past 10 feet in that pipe? But when I measured just how far down the snakes were going, I see that they stop at a point about 3 feet above where the tub drain pipe could possibly be joining the vent. At the moment, I can't understand what's going on.
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are you CERTAIN the snake is clearing the drum trap? Old homes often have drum traps tried snaking one once snake just rolls up inside of it.......
I suggest you access the line from below and snake from there.
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Yeah, that's good advice. 1913 would certainly have had drum trap originally.
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: snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote: : :> are you CERTAIN the snake is clearing the drum trap? Old homes often :> have drum traps tried snaking one once snake just rolls up inside of :> it....... :> :> I suggest you access the line from below and snake from there. :> : : Yeah, that's good advice. 1913 would certainly have had drum trap :originally.
?
What's a drum trap and where would it be?
The tub is located 12" from the wall that houses the vent pipe. The tub drain joins the overflow pipe and goes straight down into the bathroom floor 12" from the nearest part of the wall. The guy who was helping me says he assume the pipe then angles toward the vent pipe in the wall, and hopefully joins it at a gradual angle.
I see (and can imagine) no trap or cleanout. Where would that be and what would it look like?
Thanks!
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Dan_Musicant wrote:

http://plumbing.hardwarestore.com/learning/how-to-unclog-drains-toilets-and-sewers.aspx
Scroll down to Fig. 7
They were common as dirt until the 50's. Usually accessible from the bath floor, never inside the wall. Perhaps, having a separate waste/vent stack, they didn't think *any* trap was needed!
Jim
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:Dan_Musicant wrote:
:>
:> : :> :> are you CERTAIN the snake is clearing the drum trap? Old homes often :> :> have drum traps tried snaking one once snake just rolls up inside of :> :> it....... :> :> :> :> I suggest you access the line from below and snake from there. :> :> :> : :> : Yeah, that's good advice. 1913 would certainly have had drum trap :> :originally. :> :> ? :> :> What's a drum trap and where would it be? :> :> The tub is located 12" from the wall that houses the vent pipe. The tub :> drain joins the overflow pipe and goes straight down into the bathroom :> floor 12" from the nearest part of the wall. The guy who was helping me :> says he assume the pipe then angles toward the vent pipe in the wall, :> and hopefully joins it at a gradual angle. :> :> I see (and can imagine) no trap or cleanout. Where would that be and :> what would it look like? :> :> Thanks! : : :http://plumbing.hardwarestore.com/learning/how-to-unclog-drains-toilets-and-sewers.aspx : :Scroll down to Fig. 7 : :They were common as dirt until the 50's. :Usually accessible from the bath floor, never inside the wall. :Perhaps, having a separate waste/vent stack, they didn't :think *any* trap was needed! : :Jim
Yeah, thanks Jim. I actually found that same illustration shortly after posting by Googling on "drum trap." Apparently, they are usually under the tub. This tub is an old fashioned claw-footer, so there's room under the tub, but as I said the drain joins the overflow pipe and the resulting pipe goes straight down into the bathroom floor one foot from the wall. It then evidently joins (hopefully at a gradual angle) the vent pipe which is in the wall 15 inches or so from where the drain disappears in the floor. Why the snakes don't penetrate to a point about 2 feet above the bathroom floor mystifies me completely. I'm afraid this is gonna be tough. The plumbing here seems to be pretty dodgy. I've lived here 23 years (6 years the owner) and managed to get by the whole time with no real plumbing issues I couldn't deal with. But this one looks tough, and I might go for a full pipe replacement for the whole house. Maybe I'll just put off fixing this drain until then because as long as the downstairs bathroom drain works I don't need the drain on the upstairs tub to work. I did shower up there for 10 days and it didn't kill me, either. I'm hoping I can maybe do the plumbing and new electrical at the same time as a new foundation and new siding rehab. This house is quite a challenge. Lots of character here, but just a whole lot of work.
Dan
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Dan_Musicant wrote:

:http://plumbing.hardwarestore.com/learning/how-to-unclog-drains-toilets-and-sewers.aspx
you need to open the cieling below, somewhere theres a trap and its probably clogged just past the trap.
drum traps tend to stop sakes dead in their path.
open the plaster and take a look.
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