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  • Bathroom sink won't drain but pipes are clear

    My bathroom sink was draining slowly, so I took apart the pipes and cleared them. There was a lot of gunk in the pipes. I also pushed a cable about a foot into the pipe coming out of the wall and cleaned out some gunk from there. There was quite a bit of gunk in the wall pipe also. I used baking soda with vinegar followed by boiling water ten minutes later several times and plunged the sink with a plunger about a million times, but the sink won't drain at all now or very slowly. After taking the pipes apart and clearing them I think the water was flowing the first time I tried it, but then I think I took the pipes apart again and cleaned the gunk out of the wall pipe, put everything back together, and it wouldn't flow after that. The wall pipe is clear as far as my cable will go which is about a foot. When the cable stops it feels like it's touching metal not gunk, so I think the wall pipe is clear too. Could the problem be an air pocket I created by taking the pipes apart? If so, what do I do about an air pocket? Thanks for any replies.

  • #2
    no it's impossible to create an "air pocket" in a drain line, all drain lines have vents on them that allow them to breathe as well as help with the waste going down the line. I'd think from your description that you may well have pushed the blockage further down the line, sometimes when cleaning out "gunk" you break it up and it gets caught a little further down the line.
    Go to your local big box hardware store and for about $10 you will be able to buy a cheap drain snake that is 25' long, use this and you should be able to get to your blockage.
    Little about a lot and a lot about a little.
    Every day is a learning day.

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    • #3
      It sounds to me like maybe the vent line is clogged.
      http://www.bradyinspects.com/images/P_Vent.gif
      If that vent line gets stopped up somehow, (maybe a bird moved in! ) you'll get positive pressure in front of the draining water. Have you heard the drain gurgle in the past? Do you see bubbles coming up in the drain? Hopefully it's not the vent as hauling a cable up onto the roof to clean it out can be a serious pain in the back.

      Another thing to be sure to check with bathroom sinks is the stopper. They usually have a metal cap with a plastic guide, moved up and down by a lever. All those pieces can get draped with hair and gunk up the drain in a hurry. The only way to really clean it is to loosen the nut on the back of the tailpiece and pull out the lever. Then you can slide the stopper out of the drain and clean it.
      http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/i.../i/infpop1.gif

      I'm guessing you cleaned the P-trap along with the other pipes down there right? Also, air pockets should sort themselves out as long as the line is properly vented.
      If man makes it, man can fix it!

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      • #4
        Most hand held augers wont go very far, go rent a powered rotorouter and it will probably take 2 or 3 tries to get the line to flow

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        • #5
          Be VERY CAREFUL with a powered one! That drum will store a LOT of momentum as it spins and can easily break your arm/shoulder if the cable loops up and grabs you. Get the feed point as close to the pipe as you can while still having room to guide the cable. Also make sure you've got the proper gloves.

          I had to watch a buddy of mine get caught up in one of those once. I jammed my steel toe boot between the frame and drum to stop it but the damned thing still managed to dislocate his shoulder. There were other reasons I got out of plumbing shortly after that but that incident was definitely a big one.
          If man makes it, man can fix it!

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          • #6
            You mentioned that it felt like you hit metal. You may have hit a bend in the pipe or something else. Like it was mentioned get a longer snake and continue to try to go deeper unti your snake freely slides. A power hand held snake such as the Super-Vee supplied by General is a great tool to use, and has been proven very good.

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            • #7
              Today there is quite a bit of gunk in the bottom of the sink like the sink partly filled with water at night and then drained. This is the first time I've seen this. I have not heard the sink gurgle or seen air bubbles, but I haven't run the water in the sink very much lately. I have not tried a snake yet. Won't a 25' non-powered snake be long and powerful enough to clear the vent, or should I just rent a powered one? Why would I need to get on the roof to clear the vent?

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              • #8
                First things first. Try a longer snake to see what you will acheive. I have ran into situations such as yours, and the clog was actually in the drain assembly under the toilet where the other drains from the sink and shower or tub meet up. Water would back up into the shower and the sink would drain slow. Once I cleared the partial clog in the drain under the toilet I ran the water for the shower and sink and seen everything go right down. And yes, I used the Super-Vee. ha ha. But again each job may have a different situation, so in your case it MAY be good to get a longer snake and then go from there. I been in situations where someone snaked a drain for a long time and the water would go down and then clog again, and I happen to go in after and just used a plunger (of course The Builders' way) and I fixed the situation.

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                • #9
                  what's the "builder's way?"

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                  • #10
                    Its hard to describe, but easy for me to demonstrate. Its several slow pressure pumps and pull backs.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 888zzz View Post
                      Why would I need to get on the roof to clear the vent?
                      Well from your further description, it's looking like it is indeed a clog in the drain lower in the system. The gunk in the sink is a classic symptom of a backup. Was there anything in the tub? Normally you'd see backup in the lowest drain, usually a tub or shower pan.

                      For a few cases (usually when big trees hang over the roof) a vent can get clogged with leaf litter (or occasionally an unfortunate critter) and will wreak havoc on a system. Plumbing fittings for drain use are directional and try to steer water (and your snake) down into the system and away from the roof vents.

                      Sometimes getting up on the roof and snaking a vent directly is the only way to ensure it's clear.

                      Good luck to ya!
                      If man makes it, man can fix it!

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                      • #12
                        It's definitely a drain clog!
                        All a vent does is protect the trap seal from siphoning.
                        In most cases an unvented drain actually drains faster than a vented one due to the siphoning action, kind of like a toilet...

                        I hate to say this on a DIYer forum but...
                        I've seen a lot of people who have struggled for days and weeks trying to unclog a drain.
                        Often getting into a lot of trouble hacking things up trying to do it.
                        A drain cleaning pro will have you up and running within a few hours of your call.
                        Yes it takes a powered snake to do it well, but, it also takes some experience to make it happen.
                        I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.
                        Now I can Plumb!

                        For great information on the history of sanitary sewers including the use of Redwood Pipe
                        Visit http://www.sewerhistory.org/
                        Did you know some Redwood Pipe is still in service today.

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