Dumb Q: How to feed Drum Auger cable further into the drain?

Discussion in 'Drain and Sewer Cleaning' started by LilyT, Oct 14, 2019.

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  1. Oct 14, 2019 #1

    LilyT

    LilyT

    LilyT

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    My shower drain has a clog somewhere > 5 ft down the pipe line.
    I bought Husky 1/4” x 15 ft Drum Auger at Home Depot. But I couldn’t push the cable further enough into the drain. The cable passed p-trap without problem, but it stopped at ~2 ft where the p-trap arm meet s with the drain pipe in a sanitary tee (not a Y-shape).
    My other tool (a 5 ft drain cleaner brush) is flexible enough to be pushed thru this sanitary tee. I used this brush and cleaned out some hairs & gunks of the first 5 ft, but couldn’t reach further down the drain due to its length limitation. The shower drain is still clogged, water drains very slowly.
    If I could feed the 15 ft Husky Drum Auger cable to pass the sanitary tee, it will reach further to clean the drain. I tried to push & push, the cable head just refused to bend. What can I do?
     
  2. Oct 14, 2019 #2

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    Ok, this is pbly super obvious, but are you spinning the auger cable as you try to advance it?

    You have to slowly advance the cable into the drain, all the while rotating the cable with the spinner handle, to help it chew through crud and to help the tip crawl forward along the edges of the pipes and fittings.

    Almost like the cable tip is trying to drill its way through the pipe, and any clogs.
    Usually a big old hair clog in a shower, mixed with soap.

    You have to lock the cable clamp at the mouth of the auger, spin for about ten or fifteen turns while you push in slowly, then unlock the clamp and pull out a few more inches of cable, and start spinning and inserting again.

    If you are spinning the auger cable and it stops at the Tee, try rotating the auger spinner in the opposite direction for awhile.
    Or a few turns clockwise, then counter-clockwise.

    You can also try to put more insertion pressure on the cable, just don’t push so hard that it buckles and twists up onto itself.
    If it gets twisted, try to rotate the opposite of how you were spinning, pull out gently and steadily, and pray it comes out.
     
  3. Oct 14, 2019 #3

    LilyT

    LilyT

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    Thank you for the reply, Jeff!

    Your suggestion worked! It’s not hard at all, quite obvious as you mentioned. The trick is to pull out the cable a small section at a time, lock the cable, then turn clockwise and push.

    I was able to push in all the 15 ft of cable. However, the cable didn’t bring out much clogged materials. I tried this multiple times with no luck. I think the cable pushed the clog a little further downstream.

    I’m going to Home Depot tomorrow to buy the Instant Power Hair & Grease Drain Cleaner liquid. I’ll try the liquid cleaner first. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try the longer 25 ft Auger next, which I hope to push the clogs into a bigger drain that the materials won’t be able to hold on to the pipe’s inside wall.

    Keep my fingers crossed!
     
  4. Oct 14, 2019 #4

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    Usually, the main hair clog from a shower will be close, like within ten or fifteen feet.

    Usually building up at an elbow or Tee.

    But once you start to stir things up with a “snake”, or drain auger, you can knock loose enough chunks of old crud that can cause a somewhat tight spot further downstream to become fatally clogged.

    You can find hand spinner drain augers in 25 ft and 35 ft cable length.

    And even 50 feet, if you dig deep enough online.

    Meanwhile, Instant Power is actually pretty awesome stuff.

    Pro plumbers on here will likely condemn it as horrible, and it actually can weaken really old corroded metal pipes.
    However, I have used it, as a last resort.
    It works!
    And many pros here have used it, or stuff just like it, but will die before admitting it.

    But once snaking has failed, there is no shame in trying it.

    It is best to wait several hours, until as much trapped water has drained away as possible.

    Then pour at least a pint of Instant Power down the drain, followed by about a half to full gallon of super hot water from a faucet somewhere else in the house.

    Wait at least several hours, overnight is usually recommended, then run straight hot water and see if the drain has cleared up.

    If still clogged, gradually rinse the drain with hot water before trying more snaking.
     
  5. Oct 14, 2019 #5

    frodo

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    I have been know to secure a red shop rag on the end of a cable to push hair clogs down the line
    you stress the whole time wondering if you secured the rag well enough
    then do a snoopy dance when you retrieve the rag and the drain is clear
     
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  6. Oct 14, 2019 #6

    frodo

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    drain cleaners, can they hurt your pipes?

    If you use them as directed, chemical drain cleaners may help to clear a partially clogged drain.

    But because they’re so powerful, we suggest using them as a last resort.

    So, yes, chemical drain cleaners can cause damage to your pipes, especially when:

    • You have older, weak metal pipes
    • You use them incorrectly with plastic pipes
    • You use it on a completely blocked drain
    You see, because they produce heat, chemical drain cleaners can warp or damage softer pipes like plastic and older metal piping.

    Also, you should never use chemical drain cleaners in completely blocked drains. If the chemicals can’t clear a clog, they end up just sitting in pipes, eventually gnawing through them and causing more harm than good.

    We’ll explain how chemical drain cleaners work, how they can cause damage and what you should do instead to clear a partially or completely clogged drain.

    Have a drain that needs to be professionally cleared? Just contact us and we’ll send over a reliable plumber.

    How do chemical drain cleaners really work?
    Chemical drain cleaners work by producing heat that powers through clogs in the drain.

    The 3 different types of chemical drain cleaners include:

    1. Caustic (lye and caustic potash drain cleaners)
    2. Oxidizing (bleach, peroxides, nitrate cleaners)
    3. Acid (sulfuric and muriatic acid cleaners)
    All the above drain cleaners are designed to complete an electron-transfer process-meaning the chemicals in the drain cleaner either take away or give electrons to organic substances (aka the hair, grease, food, etc that’s clogging your drain). And from this electron transition, heat is produced. That heat then breaks down the clog until it can flush away.

    One important downfall to how chemical drain cleaner works, however, is that when the chemicals breakdown “FOG” clogs (clogs caused by fats, oils or grease) the clog material just moves down the drain. And, over time, this creates a build up elsewhere in the drain line that can usually be cleared but requires professional services that are expensive if done properly.

    2 other ways chemical drain cleaners can cause damage
    1. They can cause harm to you.
    Consumer reports labels chemical drain cleaners as “among the most dangerous household products” because they’re so toxic to humans and pets. Just by breathing them in, you could experience stinging and irritated eyes and throat.

    But even worse, chemical cleaners can burn through human skin, leaving behind damage such as open sores and rashes.

    2. They’re harmful to the environment.
    After you’ve used chemical drain cleaners, they end up in lakes, rivers and landfills and can poison animals and other wildlife.

    Use chemical drain cleaners as a last resort-after these alternatives…
    Consumer reports suggests using chemicals only as a last resort.

    Two safer drain clearing options to try first include:

    1. Mechanical options
    2. Biological options
    Mechanical options include using a plunger or augers to clear the clog.

    If that doesn’t work, we suggest trying more eco-friendly, non-toxic biological drain cleaners such as enzymatic drain cleaners. These cleaners use live enzymes or bacteria that basically eat the clog. Enzymatic drain cleaners typically take 24 hours to clear a blockage in your drain and are best used for organic clogs made from grease, hair, soap, etc.
     
  7. Oct 14, 2019 #7

    LilyT

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    I don’t know what materials the pipe behind wall is made of. I hope it is not metal. My house is 19 years old.
    I don’t want to push the clogs even further. I want my Drum Auger cable to bring the hair ball out. But the snake tip seemed not catch anything. I wish the tip had some spikes so it could get hairs tangled on and bring it out when the cable got retrieved.
    The water is not standing in my case, it just overflows out of the shower drain and then drains slowly within a minute. If I pour the liquid cleaner, it will have only a short minute to get contact with the clogs at the tight spot. Will it work better if the clogs are totally soaked in this liquid for the chemical reaction to work it’s magic?
     
  8. Oct 14, 2019 #8

    Jeff Handy

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    Sometimes the drain auger will drill right through a grease or hair clog, but will not grab onto it.

    So even though you reached the clog, the clog just mushes itself back together after the auger is removed.

    That’s why using plenty of twisting, while advancing slowly, then pulling back a few inches while still twisting, is important.
    You don’t want to just reach the clog, you want to physically agitate it, beat it up, and of course also hopefully catch some of its fibers with the end of the auger, so you can yank it back out of the drain.

    It’s ok to use the Instant Power drain cleaner even though all of it will not sit for a long time at the site of the clog.
    Read my suggestion again above about how to use it.
    In reply #4.

    Enough Instant Power will be trapped at the clog to begin softening it up.

    After the first treatment, if it still is draining slow, you can try it again, with another pint or so of Instant Power and a half gallon or so of very hot tap water behind it, to push it along.
     
  9. Oct 14, 2019 #9

    LilyT

    LilyT

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    Hi Jeff, I just poured 2 pints of Instant Power liquid cleaner (half of 67 oz bottle) into my shower drain. I also covered the drain hole with a ziplock bag and taped around it to block any fume coming out of drain. I’ll wait 8 hours then pour boiling water tonight.
    Thanks for your time and patience in providing very detailed explanation of the snaking process. They make lot of sense and help me greatly. I appreciate your input very much!
     
  10. Oct 14, 2019 #10

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    Don’t use boiling water.
    It’s not safe to carry around the house.
    Also, it can crack your shower floor or tiles.

    Just run the hot water somewhere else in the house that does not empty into that same drain line.
    Let it get fully hot, which is about 120 degrees.
    Fill up a big pot like you would use for spaghetti, and dump that hot tap water down there.

    Much safer than handling a pot of boiling water.
     
  11. Oct 14, 2019 #11

    LilyT

    LilyT

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    It’s nice of you in reminding me of the safety concern of boiling water.

    There are two vanity sinks between my shower drain and my toilet. My toilet flushes fine. Running any of the two vanity sinks causes water overflowing from the shower drain. I think my previous snaking endeavor has pushed the clogging spot to the last lateral pipe section before the toilet. I was planning to dump the boiling water into the last vanity sink. The safety concerns you mentioned make sense. I’ll use super hot water tonight and report back.

    Thanks a lot!
     
  12. Oct 14, 2019 #12

    Jeff Handy

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    Yes, just very hot water from a faucet somewhere else in the house, that does not drain into that same clogged line.

    Boiling water could also crack your vanity sink, from the sudden temperature change.
     
  13. Oct 15, 2019 #13

    LilyT

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    Hi Jeff, I m reporting back that the Instant Power Hair and Grease Drain Cleaner worked! I poured ~32 oz liquid cleaner into the shower drain, waited 9 hours, then I poured super hot tap water in various drain locations on the upstream of the clog. Now the pipe is clean and no more backed up water! What a relief!
    The liquid cleaner seems much easier and more effective than the drain snake for amateur like me to use. I’ll go shop for a hair catcher to augment the primitive drain grate. I’ll be more careful using my shower from now.
    Thank you very much for your advices along the way. Your feedback came in a timely fashion. You steered me away from using boiling water which could have resulted in bad consequences. I appreciate your expertise very much!
     
  14. Oct 15, 2019 #14

    Jeff Handy

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    Hurray!

    Glad that the clog is gone for now.

    Yes, catch your hair in a drain filter cap.

    I am taking a wild guess, but you sound Asian, and those lovely ladies have thick long hair that can be a delight to the eye, but murder to drain pipes.

    You should also start using an enzyme type drain cleaner, like Drain Care or anything similar.
    They are a powder that you mix with a quart or so of warm water, then dump down the drain before bed, so it can work all night.

    Once a week for awhile, then maybe once a month.

    Just a few spoonfuls with warm tap water.
    Too hot can ruin the enzymes, or kill the bacteria that some types also have.

    These enzyme cleaners actually gradually digest and soften up some of the soap, grease, and hair, so that junk gets mushy enough to slide all the way out to the city sewer and goes bye-bye.

    Google it, and any questions let me know!
     
  15. Oct 15, 2019 #15

    LilyT

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    Yes, you’re right! I’m Asian, but I have very fine hair. Moved into this house two months ago.
    In my old house, the shower drain is in the center but not directly under the hit of the water stream, the grate has finer holes which catches most hairs on the surface. It’s a quick wipe afterwards to pick up the hairs and dump them to the trash can. Never had clogging issue there.
    In the new house, the shower head has a much larger gpm and the water hits the drain hard & fast. Although I’ve been losing my hair at the same rate, I never saw hairs caught at the surface and I thought they must have been getting accumulated at the p-trap. Finally the day came when the water stopped draining. And I found the p-trap is actually clean!
    The cheap 5ft drain brush was able to pull up some hairs and gunks. The 15ft snake went in but pulled out nothing. Problem stayed. Until the liquid cleaner came and resolved the issue.
    I still have half bottle of the liquid cleaner left. I may not use it again since I’ll be using a hair catcher. However, if clogging ever happens again, I’ll try the enzyme cleaner you and the other folk suggested for better health for the pipe and the environment.
    I reread your post and noticed you mentioned a routine to use the enzyme cleaner. I’ll check out the brand Drain Care and follow your best practice advice to keep my pipes healthy.
    Thank you for writing these tips!
    Have a great day!
     
  16. Oct 15, 2019 #16

    Jeff Handy

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    Enzyme cleaners don’t work for a clog.
    They are more for prevention of clogs.
    They work slowly to gradually clean out some of the gunk, before it gets too thick.

    They can help with a drain that is getting a little slower, but not for a clog that barely drains.

    It takes about 30 seconds to mix a few spoonfuls of powder with warm water, and dump it in the drain, once in a while.
    And super cheap.
     
  17. Oct 15, 2019 #17

    LilyT

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    Good to know! Thanks for the elaborated clarification between the two! It’s good for maintaining the optimum performance of the pipes. Wish there’s something like this for the body’s digestive system and blood vessels :)
     
  18. Oct 15, 2019 #18

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    There is, it’s called exercise, haha!

    Actually, I take a special product for that, most every night.

    It’s called red wine, haha!
     
  19. Oct 15, 2019 #19

    Diehard

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    Asian hair has a more solid structure than Caucasian hair. This may account for the beautiful long, shiny look that so many Asian women are known for.
     

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