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Plumbing disaster. Now with AC leakage!

DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
edited July 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
So i've been fighting with a clog in my mother's house for the last week or so and i'm completely at a loss.

The bathroom sink and kitchen sink share a drain line somewhere between the walls. Right now if I were to run water in the bathroom the sink would eventually fill up and then send water into the kitchen sink and the other way around. So far i've tried a few different liquid clog chemicals that did nothing to alleviate the problem so that's when I removed the P trap in both sinks and gave it a good cleaning with one of those cheap-o plastic drain snakes. No luck. Ended up getting a 20FT drum auger and giving that a whirl. At best i'd end up seeing it pop out of the other sink but never quite hit where the clog was.

Recently the clog has started to cause leaking from somewhere in the pipes and down through the basement ceiling and that's starting to flood the carpet so I located the main drain cleanout plug. After a few hours of pushing and pulling I got the length of the drum auger to go through the whole thing. Tried the sinks again. Still clogged.

At this point the leaking is getting so bad in the basement and under the sinks that i'd almost be willing to just turn the water off until I could dry out the house. Unfortunately people need things like toilets so i'm at a loss. Wherever this clog is I don't have the competence in plumbing to find it. But I also don't have the money to call a plumber. Should I just spend another day or so sending the auger down every pipe in hopes of hitting a clog or am I missing something?

The toilet and shower drains work fine thankfully. I'd suppose this means that the clog is in some hidden place before the main line?

DasUberEdward on
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  • sportzboytjwsportzboytjw squeeeeeezzeeee some more tax breaks outRegistered User regular
    DUS, can you access the pipes in the wall with minimal damage? If it's coming through the ceiling, you're looking at damaging the house anyway, so it may be worth it. You can keep trying to snake it, but it can be hard to hit what you need to hit. Have you sent the snake down the kitchen sink?

    Walkerdog on MTGO
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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    I think i'd have to remove cabinets and all kinds of stuff to get to the pipes in the wall. I have tried sending the snake down the kitchen sink after I removed the P trap.

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  • sportzboytjwsportzboytjw squeeeeeezzeeee some more tax breaks outRegistered User regular
    Cuz it's likely that your snake is going the wrong way. Can people just not use that sink for a while so it's not a "must have" for this weekend, or are you getting leaks even without using that sink?

    Walkerdog on MTGO
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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    Cuz it's likely that your snake is going the wrong way. Can people just not use that sink for a while so it's not a "must have" for this weekend, or are you getting leaks even without using that sink?

    They're the only sinks we have but i'm thinking i'll just put up a big DO NOT USE sign in the kitchen and bathroom until things dry out some. I'm going to go back to snaking through the kitchen sink because I think at this point if 25 feet in the main line didn't find it it's not coming from there.

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  • sportzboytjwsportzboytjw squeeeeeezzeeee some more tax breaks outRegistered User regular
    Yea, I mean, if poeple can't use the shower/tub for water to prevent damaging the dang house...

    Walkerdog on MTGO
    TylerJ on League of Legends (it's free and fun!)
  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    It's an uphill battle. Alright so i'm going to keep snaking then and hope for the best.

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  • sportzboytjwsportzboytjw squeeeeeezzeeee some more tax breaks outRegistered User regular
    Seems like a plan. The next think is strategically cutting into walls (well, the drywall) to remove pipe, but you probably should just call a plumber at that point.

    What

    What did you put down the sink DUE?

    Walkerdog on MTGO
    TylerJ on League of Legends (it's free and fun!)
  • Forbe!Forbe! Registered User regular
    Could be a lot of things. They could also be two independent problems, or the drain pipe could have been cracked by a buildup. It may be a pain to tear out cabinets and such, but if you have water leaking through gyp and soaking your carpet, you are now going to have to start worrying about mold. Depending on what your pipes are made off and what type of chemical you're using it could also make the problem worse by further weakening the pipe (assuming the pipe is the actual problem).

    There are some pretty heavy duty sulfuric acid cleaners out there which will get rid of most fat/hair based clogs. If I'm not mistaken most cleaners from the hardware store are just lye/potash based, and the acidic ones are usually only available to licensed plumbers.

    I'd be calling a plumber right about now, but since that isn't an option, I would probably continue on with the auguring efforts.

  • JihadJesusJihadJesus Registered User regular
    Sounds like you might have a cracked pipe down the line from where the second sink enters the line. If that's the case it's not getting fixed with any snake or liquid plumber crap, you"ll have to either locat and fix the break or rerout the line around if that's even possible.

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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    edited July 2012
    Whoop!

    Update time. Looks like I have a leak from one of the condensation lines on the central AC unit that was doubling (heck maybe tripling) they actual amount of water caused by the plumbing problem. It looks like the secondary (i think? since it is inside the house) condensate line (white pvc tube) leading out of the furnace is leaking a ton of ice cold water when the AC is running. There seems to be some sort of black putty binding around the line from the original installation and this is what has failed. Any idea what the hell the stuff is called and if it can be easily repaired?

    On the good side I did manage to clean up the basement and have a moment of dryness. Also now that i've got a shop-vac the idea of trying to suck out the clog is becoming increasingly appealing. Any advice with that?

    DasUberEdward on
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  • sportzboytjwsportzboytjw squeeeeeezzeeee some more tax breaks outRegistered User regular
    It's either simple glue (if it's between two pipes, like this)

    [url="http://"]http://www.nachi.org/forum/attachments/f20/22846d1216844149-condensate-line-hpim2811.jpg[/url]

    or it could be pipe dope if it looks like a darker version of this stuff:

    [url="http://"]http://www.pbase.com/mainecruising/image/109180062.jpg[/url]

    If it's rubbery in texture, it's probably pipe glue or maybe silicon, but if it's gritty and more mooshy than rubbery (think like oatmeal that's still holding together somehow) it's probably pipe dope. Can you get us a picture?

    Walkerdog on MTGO
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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    It's rubbery and around the spot where the pipe enters or maybe leaves from the furnace.

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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    it doesn't look like any of the photos though.

    upload incoming.

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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    1zpi0p5.jpg

    that black gunk. no idea what it is. soft and sort of rubbery.

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  • DjeetDjeet Registered User regular
    If this was a DIY fix there are any number of filler or caulk-type products that might be; it looks kinda like roofing caulk.

    If there's leaking then it's likely a PVC joint or coupler has failed and the way to fix that is to section out the failed bit and mend with new PVC.

  • sportzboytjwsportzboytjw squeeeeeezzeeee some more tax breaks outRegistered User regular
    Okay, checked with the HVAC bro-in-law who confirms my plan: Cut the pipe on the straight part that's turned to the right, so that afterwards you can couple it back in. Then strip away that sealant fairly gently. Unthread the pipe going into the AC. Check for plugs in the pipe, cracks in the fitting inside the AC unit, and signs of freezing (a.e. do you see ice/insane condensation all over).

    If nothing is wrong, the sealant may have just crapped out and need to be resealed.

    If there is a crack inside, you can squeeze in silicone on the fitting, making sure to be generous where the crack is, but also fill in all around the fitting and thread your fitting back in. Be very gentle if this is the case; you don't want to crack it more, and you want the silicon to set up in the crack and around the fitting.

    If there is ice, try to thaw it (shut off the ac) and see if it keeps happening. If there is a plug, remove it. Then get a fitting for the pipe (it will be like $1) and glue and piper (~$10 for a small set) and glue that sucker back up.

    Walkerdog on MTGO
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  • DasUberEdwardDasUberEdward Registered User regular
    @sportzboytjw

    Well if it means anything that pipe itself isn't leaking and I was able to pretty clearly see that the leak came from the sealant cracking. I think I should have been more clear in my previous post because the pipe itself seems to have no defects. There are no signs of cracks anywhere else and fortunately no signs of freezing.

    Yesterday after I made the post I ended up going out to pick up some all purpose weld and sealant which I applied yesterday but it recommends 24 hours of time to fully dry. I'll be turning the AC on in a few hours to see what happens and if that doesn't work i'll remove all of the sealant and start from the top. Thanks for the advice everyone.

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  • Sangheili91Sangheili91 Registered User regular
    Donno if you still have a blocked drain or not, and I know nothing about AC, but coming from a plumber, it sounds like the clog is definitely before the main stack. From what you've described, your kitchen sink and your lav meet (for some strange, strange reason) before heading to the stack, most likely in a cross fitting, and hoo boy are those fun. The dinky little snake isn't gonna do you any good, and most likely your auger won't be of much help either (unless you're unclogging a toilet, augers are pretty useless).

    If you're set on doing it yourself, you're going to have to figure out how to get your snake to turn down at the cross, which will take a lot of patience, frustration, swearing, and luck. I would recommend seeing if there wasn't any way you could get a plumber out to take a look at it for you, because cross fittings are the worst. Whoever invented them should be shot.

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  • sportzboytjwsportzboytjw squeeeeeezzeeee some more tax breaks outRegistered User regular
    @sportzboytjw

    Well if it means anything that pipe itself isn't leaking and I was able to pretty clearly see that the leak came from the sealant cracking. I think I should have been more clear in my previous post because the pipe itself seems to have no defects. There are no signs of cracks anywhere else and fortunately no signs of freezing.

    Yesterday after I made the post I ended up going out to pick up some all purpose weld and sealant which I applied yesterday but it recommends 24 hours of time to fully dry. I'll be turning the AC on in a few hours to see what happens and if that doesn't work i'll remove all of the sealant and start from the top. Thanks for the advice everyone.

    If it leaks after this, cut the pip after it makes its turn. That way you can spin the pipe and fitting out of the AC (after stripping away the new and old sealant) and take a look inside the unit (looking for cracks/plugs/ice).

    Hope it's holding though!

    Walkerdog on MTGO
    TylerJ on League of Legends (it's free and fun!)
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