how to snake bathtub drain?


subject says all... this AM I was taking a shower and felt that lovely feeling of water backing up in the bathtub and bathing my feet in cool soapiness. Got home today to find that there was STILL water in the tub, so it was stopped up but good. I'm usually pretty good about keeping the drain clear of hair etc. but the girl is half Japanese and has about the hair you'd expect :/
I bailed most of the water into the sink with a bucket, then poured some drain cleaner crystals into the drain, let it sit a while, and went at it with a plunger. Obviously this was only of limited effectiveness as the overflow is not sealed off. I didn't see any way to get a snake down the pipe because the drain looks like a laundry sink drain in that there's a cross pattern thing in it, with the tapped hole in the middle to hold the pop-up piece (to make matters worse, I know that it's well stuck, but removing it wouldn't have been a good option what with the drain being stopped up and all.)
Fortunately, after a few minutes doing what I could with the plunger, that moved things around enough to let it drain again, so I boiled a couple pots full of water and threw them down the drain to hopefully wash out all the nastiness. My question is, if that *hadn't* worked, what should I have done? Only thing I could think of to do would be to go to the store and buy a cleanout for the drain pipe (if there even is such a thing for a non-stack-sized pipe) and go in through the access panel in the bedroom and install the cleanout on the overflow pipe to provide a place to insert the snake. Am I missing something or would this be the way to do it? I forsee that as long as I have a Person of Hair in the house that this won't be the last time this happens.
Clearly the blockage was at or near the bathtub, just too far down for me to reach with the little plastic hair removing thing that I use every now and then, as it shares a stack with the sink, the kitchen sink, and dishwasher and all of those still work fine
On the upside, while the tub backed up with no warning (we don't typically take baths, so there was no opportunity to notice the drain running slow - it either drains faster than the water comes out of the shower head, or it doesn't) I had noticed a bit of a funky smell in the bathroom the past few days and hopefully it was whatever muck was building up in the drain that was the cause of that piquant aroma. (please, please let it be so. I don't need any more issues.)
nate
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On 5/3/2010 7:36 PM, Nate Nagel wrote:

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,193799-4,00.html
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On 05/03/2010 07:51 PM, Frank wrote:

somewhat... that's about the approach I wanted to take, except a) I needed both hands to work the plunger (one to help it seal against the tub) and no helper, so I couldn't block the overflow with my gripping hand, and also the way my particular overflow is constructed, I can't get a snake in there. There's a protrusion right in the middle of it for the screw that holds the trim plate on (and presumably the overflow to the side of the tub as well) which means that the distance between it and the side of the pipe is less than the diameter of the head on my smallest snake. So it sounds like either replacing the drain assembly with one more snake-friendly and/or adding a cleanout (if possible) is the way to go.
I kinda hate the drain/overflow assembly anyway as it is one of those ones with no lever, just a stopper that you push to set and push again to open. Maybe I'll put that on my list of things to do, but if it's anything like the kitchen sink drain was, I'll need a Sawzall to do it :/
nate
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OR you could like buy a smaller snake which will fit through the opening for your tub overflow... It is not rocket science, snakes are not one size fits all... Your size may vary...
Anyway, attacking a clogged tub drain is only possible through the overflow drain -- you can not get a snake to make the 90Ί bend in the drain in the bottom of the tub where it intersects the overflow pipe and continues downwards to your main drain lines...
~~ Evan
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On 5/3/2010 10:18 PM, Evan wrote:

That's the next step and as you point out, drain does not go as you think it might. Best for him to try to google up a diagram of his set-up.
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Yes, very good link.
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Silly question: What about Drano or similar product? I find these to be amazingly effective.
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wrote:

Instead of fluids, have a look at this (idea).
Set of 4 FlexiSnake Bendable Rubberized Wire Drain Tools
Long link: (video)
http://www.qvc.com/qic/qvcapp.aspx/view.2/app.detail/params.aol_refer.false.tpl.detail.msn_refer.false.item.V29217.ref.BV1?cm_ven Ίzaarvoice&cm_cat=For%20the%20Home&cm_pla=Plumbing&cm_ite=V29217
(or chuck a wire in a drill)
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Drano (which is mostly lye, NaOH, sodium hydroxide) is effective, but must be used with care because of the known reaction with zinc in any brass parts of the drain. Long exposure of brass to NaOH will leave a copper sponge, effectively destroying the system. Best recourse, use it and flush quickly.
Joe
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Didn't know that, so thanks. All our drain pipes are ABS, so the only brass parts are right at the tub/sink itself.
We have a couple of really tough bends/joins/I-don't-know-what in the drains. A snake is just about impossible to get through those parts, but Drano does the job.
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Also check for cleanouts on the line as the plug is probaly in the line or the trap .
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wrote:

These are all inside the walls; no cleanouts anywhere near them. The problem spots are all "builder-installed", so I'm innocent of causing them.
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RE CLOGGED TUB DRAIN;
Unscrew the "drain flipper plate" ( usually 2 phillips heads ) Wiggle and lift out the linkage and the round brass plug. It's usually packed with hair.
With the plug out, you can snake the drain without any interference.
Fill a bucket with water, hot as you can get it. Pour it down the drain. That should usually do it.
The hardest part will involve wiggling the brass plug/linkage back down the overflow.
Tighten the screws..... DONE !
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Or you can just buy some Drano for five bucks, pour it in and let it do the dirty work while you go have a beer. The stuff's amazing, I tell you (the Drano, I mean, not the beer).
Drano will probably get banned at some point, on the grounds of being "environmentally unfriendly". These days, it seems as though any substance that is cheap and effective is, ipso facto, "environmentally unfriendly".
--
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Yeah, they're starting to ban bottled water, now.
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Funny, that. Something like 1% of the water used by man is bottled. The other 99% is used for irrigation, food-prep, cleaning, and the like. But it's the bottles they hate.
I think the anti-bottle nuts believe that we have committed a moral sin of Promethean proportions, akin to the sin we committed when we started to use hydrocarbons for energy. Basically, when religious nuts take over, you can't win.
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It is that 1% of water that people drink which is stored in plastic bottles which are made of chemicals which can cause cancer that people are so worried about...
Especially since that bottled water sits in the bottles you buy it in for a while between when it is bottled and when you buy it and drink it... During the transit it gets awfully warm during the summer months in a delivery truck and the plastic bottles leech chemicals into the water...
But it is your body and your cancer... Bottled water is essentially the world's biggest scam... Why buy someone else's filtered municipal tap water when you can seriously just use your own and buy a better home filtration system instead ?
~~ Evan
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Water is a "chemical". Everything is a "chemical".

So all those years of industry and government testing for leaching count for nothing?
You're aware that only certain polymers are allowed to be in contact with edible contents of a container? Ever wonder why?
You're aware that metal cans also have a polymer lining, in order to prevent poisonous reactions between the can's metal and the contents of the can? Nobody's complaining aobut cancer from that.

Because the bottles are a /lot/ more convenient. I'm old enough to remember when bottled water was totally unavailable unless it was carbonated. I /like/ the presence of bottled water.
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Circle the calendar every 6 months to do a Drano dump down the tub drain. A good defense is better than a poor offense.
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wrote:

Use a product called Gillette lye some grocers sell it , put approx 2 to 3 tablespoons in the drain pour abit of COLD water down the drain enough to rinse the lye into the drain . This is critical let sit for no more then 5 minutes and rinse completely with cold water while plunging with a regular plunger , cover the overflow you do not have to plug it completely air tight . if this doe,s not completely clear it give it one more shot same system . If this fails call a plumber .
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