I'm baffled. Kitchen sink backed up yesterday, so I removed the kitchen
disposal to snake the pipe. I also disconnected the pipe in the basement
(where I have a rubber boot connector to plastic pipe that's fortunately
runs over my wash basin). So I've got a run of only about 6 or 7 feet of
pipe that I snaked. Snaking went easy, with the cable end coming out the
end of the pipe with very little gunk. So, I pour water down the pipe
under the sink and it just trickles out in the basement! I've snaked it
3 more times, and still the water flow out the end of the pipe in the
basement is about a quart every 10 minutes. Any ideas?
Showing my ignorance here again, but even if there was no vent pipe, I
don't understand how that could be a factor in this case. I've removed
the p-trap. I would think that with the pipe under the sink wide open,
lack of a vent pipe wouldn't impede the water flow.
A flat wire snake just poking a hole through gunk might end up with
the results you describe.
A typical spiral wire snake shouldn't.
Have you snaked while the drain piping is loaded with water, or poked
a hose running with water while pausing your snaking?
Seems odd to me. You're right about venting. If the drain is open
it's to the kitchen, it's vented.
When you say the snake came out of the end, you mean in the basement,
Yes, the snake came out in the basement. It's a cable snake with a half
inch spiral wire end. I've snaked it with water in it. In fact, I had
the snake all the way through to the basement and filled the pipe at the
same time (with an inverted elbow piece). I pulled the snake back out,
and the water still drizzle out in the basement. I'm thinking gremlins.
Two things I can think of:
1) That 1/2" spiral isn't big enough for your clog. A guy I used to know
taught me a little trick: Loosely fasten a piece of wire to the spiral. As
you spin the spiral, the wire flies outwards and acts as a sort of roto-
rooter, dislodging more gunk than the spiral does alone. The faster you
spin the spiral, the better the wire works.
2) Maybe you need a better drain-opener. I see that Pequa's drain-opener is
potassium hydroxide. This may not be as effective as lye (sodium
hydroxide). Drano (for one) is lye-based, and properly used, is an
excellent gunk-decomposer. Drano is septic-safe.
Attach some fairly stiff wire to the end of the snake once you get it
coming out in the basement, bend the wire so it is at least 1/2 the
diameter of the pipe, and then fill the pipe with water and spin the
snake while pulling it back up, keep the water filled. That way, as
you come back up and dislodge anything, it is free from that point
down to the basement end. What you are doing may loosen something,
but then it clogs back up. My way will give whatever is clogging the
pipe an open pathway from the clog point into the basement.
OK, I poured some more of the drain cleaner last night. This morning I
snaked again and a bit of gunk came out. I tried attaching some wire and
backing out the snake. More gunk came out, but the wire twirled off the
spiral cable wire. So I reattached some more wire and went back down
with snake - a lot of gunk came out. I then flushed the pipe again with
a sinkful of hot water and lots of Dawn, and that really did it. Lots of
crud, and free flowing water!
I noticed in the gunk there were a number of greasy black flaps. My
suspicion at this point is that the flaps were partially stuck to the
walls of the pipe, but the unstuck sections blocked the smooth flow of
water. The snake probably got through them OK, but once the snake was
removed, the flaps and any other grease still there slowed the flow to a
Anyway, all is well, and I thank everyone for their suggestions.
Now, prevention. Besides limiting the grease, and using cold water when
grease is flushed, are there any drain cleaners that are particularly
effective in maintaining clean, less greasy pipes?
If I rinse grease down the drain, I run hot water before and after.
That is only to rinse pans/dishes. Larger amounts, I pour into a jar or
can and dispose of that into the trash. Only clogs I have had in years
and years have been hairballs in bathroom and veggie peels I fed through
the disposal in large amounts. I don't and won't use Drano or similar
... too nasty to keep around and no reason to create a clog that is
subject to Drano clearing it :o)
Wow! This becomes my night to disagree with two posters on the same night.
Again, no offense intended.
Emulsify your grease with soap and cold water before sending it down the
drain. The clots come where the pipe cools enough to allow it. Cold water
doesn't cool. The suspended grease will pass to the sewer.
Just think about it. Think and understand.
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What are all these greasy black flaps? What are they from? I don't
put black flaps down my drain. I don't even have any to put.
And how do they get by the garbage disposal? In other words, how big
are they, what are they, and how do you get them?
I'm thinkin' but I don't understand. Seems to me in cold water they
are at least as likely to pile up behind other clumps of grease.
I use a 3-gallon sprinkling can with nozzle removed. Fill
with water, bring to boiling on stove. I pour some
detergent (TSP, ...) down the drain, then all of the hot
water. Once every 4-8 weeks keeps my kitchen drain open.
When you start with a clean open line the cold water carries the sludge to
the city sewer and it does not collect at the cool point of the line.
Modern plastic pipes are much more forgiving than the old iron ones.
Flushing a line by filling the sink before pulling the plug at least once a
week also helps. It is a matter of volume. Soap scum can build up over time
in a half bath because no one ever fills the bowl before draining.
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