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Serious clog issue

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Itsonlyme

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I have a stubborn clog in my bathtub drain that I have not been able to resolve for quite some time. The setup is this.

I live it an old house. On the 2nd floor is my main bathroom which contains the tub, a double sink vanity, and toilet. On the 1st floor I have a half bathroom and kitchen. On the kitchen ceiling there is a drum trap.

There is no clog in the toilets, but there is a clog in the tub and the double sink. If I run water in either of the sinks, it comes up in the tub. I had a plumber use compressed air in the tub drain and another plumber run an electric snake in the drain from the sink closest to the toilet. I've also tried snaking from the tub overflow, although the snake isn't that long and is manual.

Can my situation be resolved without resorting to cutting into pipes? I'm told by plumbers that snaking through the drum trap would do no good because the clog is before the drum trap.

I would appreciate any advice that might help me with my dilemma.
I've been told by plumbers that because the toilet is not clogging, the clog has to be somewhere between the sink and the toilet, but I don't know if that is true.
 

Jeff Handy

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You will very likely end up cutting an access panel under the drum trap, and cutting it out.
To change to a p trap.
Drum traps are a poor design, and often fill up with soap and hair.
They were designed to have a cap that could be unscrewed to clean them out.
These caps tend to get welded shut from corrosion.
They also often get covered over during a flooring or tile update.
 

Jeff Handy

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You can try removing the tub overflow cover and running a hand spinner snake down there, it might unclog it.

Hair clog type drain cleaner might work, but it will just clog again sooner or later.

Time to cut out the drum trap, IMHO.
 

Itsonlyme

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Do you agree with the plumbers who said that because the toilet is not clogging, the clog has to be between the sink and the toilet? According to them, snaking through the drum trap would do no good because the drum trap is after the toilet.
 

Jeff Handy

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The drum trap would not be downstream of the toilet, or it would fill up with paper and waste immediately.
The drum trap is there for the bathtub.
 

Geofd

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i had an issue just like this the drum trap was in the bathroom ceiling, i tried everything , to clear it, in the end i cut out the drum trap snaked the line leaving the trap repiped, and had an access panel installed
 

Jeff Handy

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If you watch the video, they were able to install the new p trap by attaching to nearby threaded fittings.

That is unusually easy in my experience, usually the fittings won’t unscrew without causing more damage to pipes.

It is often easier and less hassle to attach at both cut ends with rubber couplings with a full metal shield around them for support.

These can be called mission couplings or no hub couplings, pros on here can advise with more or better info.
 

Itsonlyme

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Before I do anything with the drum trap, let me run this by you.

I recently had a plumber come to my house with the expectation that he would open the drum trap and snake the drain from there. When he got here, he said that it was past the clog and wouldn't do any good so instead he snaked from one of the sinks in the bathroom instead using an electric snake. It didn't work but he still charged me.

I think that changing the drum trap to a p trap makes perfect sense but I have to ask, what are the odds that this will solve my problem? And before that happens, do you think that given that that plumber snaked from the sink without success, would it be a waste of time snaking from the tub overflow? Also, would it be a waste of time using a wet vac in the tub drain?

If I do proceed with having the drum trap changed to a p trap, I will use a plumber because I'm not confident doing that myself. How much is a fair price for that job given that access to the drum trap is in the kitchen ceiling?
 

Jeff Handy

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Too many what ifs to advise about snaking working or not.

Working in those small bathroom drains should be easy with a hand snake.
Buy a hand snake and try going down the overflow yourself, and also down the tub drain.
Watch vids on using a hand spinner snake.

Without being on site, I can’t picture where things all connect.

As a ballpark, I would quote $350.00 to cut the access to the old drum trap, then cut it out, which will often drench me in glop.

That includes shopping time for parts after cutting the opening.

The area needs tarping off and cleanup afterwards.
Then install new trap and fittings, and a nice looking access panel in the opening.

Things can always pop up once the hole is cut.

And other pipes can break, which would not be in my quote.

I would not waste time with a shop vac.
 

Jeff Handy

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If the snake stops advancing, rotate the opposite way.

Watch Youtube vids on snaking, it is an art form that takes time to get good at.
 

Itsonlyme

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Thanks for the great suggestions. I'm going to buy a 50 foot snake (I currently have a 15 foot one) and give it a go. And per your suggestion, I'm going to check out videos on this. I'm wondering about two things though.

1. I forgot to mention that somewhere in the piping on the kitchen ceiling is a tee pipe fitting which I wasn't aware of until a plumber that was here pointed it out to me. Can the snake get thru that?
2. How will the snake get past the drum trap?
 

Jeff Handy

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25 foot snake should be fine.
Hand spinners also come as long as 30 feet, maybe 35.

You will not find a 50 foot hand spinner.
Not in the convenient type that have a drum to contain the cable.

No need for 50 feet if the clog is anywhere near the tub or sink, in the bathroom.

You will likely not get past the drum trap, but getting into it and cranking might grab some hair and get hold of the clog.

You can also try putting about 6 inches of straight hot water in the tub, then using a good plunger and using the plunger more for suction on the very vigorous upstroke.

The type of plunger made for a toilet, with an elongated nose.
You can fold that nose piece inside.
This gives you a wider sealing surface.

The vigorous upstrokes pull back on the clog and sometimes will eventually break it up.

You can also remove the tub overflow cover (don’t lose the screws!), and twist a wet rag into the overflow drain.
This will give better suction to the plunger.
 

Geofd

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unless you have access to the outlet of the drum trap, the only way is to open the ceiling were the drum trap is located,first vac out all water in the sink and tub, then try to remove the drum trap if you get the cover off snake the
outlet side first, if it were me and i could get to the pipe on the outlet side i may cut it out if its possible, then, if your not going to replace the trap, an there is enough space i would cut a cleanout fitting on the outlet side of the drain
(when opening the drum trap, or cutting it out use a wet vac )
i mentioned in an earlier post i ran into the same thing the person was also charged by multiple people
for snaking plunging ,it just the way it was piped a long time ago yes,its an undertaking but if you have had multiple people out, and the result is the same, and no one has attempted to access the trap thats the next step
 

Itsonlyme

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A while back, I had leaking from the kitchen ceiling, and a handyman did at that time open the drum trap and pulled out some rags that were in there. He also found that the leaking that was occurring was from an opening in a different portion of the piping which he then capped to stop the leaking.

What about the tee pipe fitting? Will I be able to snake past that? If so, then I guess I'll get a 25 foot hand spinner and try to use that first. Then if that doesn't work, I'll hire someone to change the drum trap to a p trap. Should I also have then snake from the drum trap first?
 

Jeff Handy

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You are going in circles.
Act on the information already provided.
If you have been inside the drum trap before, clean it out again.
You should have mentioned that long ago.
You are spinning your wheels, just act on something.
 
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