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Clearing a clogged drain

weirdspaceshipsweirdspaceships i will eat your still-beating heartRegistered User regular
edited April 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
The kitchen sink is clogged, probably by food. No garbage disposal. Dual sink. It's been slow-draining for a while now, and recently it got worse, and now it's just terrible.

I tried vinegar and baking soda, since that foams up nice in the pipes, followed by hot water and all. Not much help. I checked the trap, it had some food in there but not enough for a clog. Cleaned it out. Tried more vinegar and baking soda. Then I went and got a snake. The water flows fine until it hits the clean-out port. That's where it all pools up. I got the snake down pretty far and found nothing, but now I can't get it more than two feet.

The landlord is being lame and not answering, but either way, if possible I'd like to take care of this myself before I have to go find the dude and make him fix it. Is there something I can do that doesn't involve drain-cleaning chemicals, or can someone talk about how to snake something properly? I'm immensely frustrated by this.

weirdspaceships on


  • EuphoriacEuphoriac Registered User regular
    Have you tried a good ol' fashioned plunger? Worked for me after I got my bathroom sink clogged awhile back.

  • weirdspaceshipsweirdspaceships i will eat your still-beating heart Registered User regular
    Yeah, forgot about the plunger. I've been plunging a lot but I can't tell if it's having any impact. It certainly hasn't gotten rid of the clog.

  • 143999143999 Tellin' ya not askin' ya, not pleadin' with yaRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    If it's a two, sink, make sure you plug the other drain before you plunge. Otherwise you're just shlorping air in and out of the other drain.

    143999 on
  • weirdspaceshipsweirdspaceships i will eat your still-beating heart Registered User regular
    I have been. I'm thinking of taking a vacuum to it. Some people say use a shop vac to blow the clog away, but I only have a regular vacuum with a hose attachment. Maybe I can suck the clog up some? I don't know.

    I'm just plunging and snaking like nobody's business until the landlord wants to stop by, I guess.

  • SkeithSkeith Registered User regular
    A regular vacuum might not have the oomph to sort out a clog like that. I think you're at the point where you have to start considering drain-o, unless you're on a septic system, in which case just get a hold of your landlord.

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  • mtsmts Dr. Robot King Registered User regular
    well you could pull the trap and see if the clog is there or you can grab a snake and use that

  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2012
    mts wrote: »
    well you could pull the trap and see if the clog is there or you can grab a snake and use that

    Both Drain-O and Liquid Plumper now have bottles with plastic snakes included - not something you can open a plumbing business with, but may get the job done.

    There's also some crystal products than may work. They're nasty business, though.

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  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Go to home depot/Lowes, and go to the plumbing section. There they will sell Draino/Liquid Plumber, ignore that shit. Somewhere on the same shelf will be a black 1/2 gallon container, inside of a thick ziplock bag.

    That's the stuff you want to get. It's basically super concentrated NaOH. Or the crystal shit, same deal but dried.

  • AtheraalAtheraal Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Go to home depot/Lowes, and go to the plumbing section. There they will sell Draino/Liquid Plumber, ignore that shit. Somewhere on the same shelf will be a black 1/2 gallon container, inside of a thick ziplock bag.

    That's the stuff you want to get. It's basically super concentrated NaOH. Or the crystal shit, same deal but dried.

    Please note that this stuff is highly caustic, and should be handled with protective gear and care.

    Atheraal on
  • Donovan PuppyfuckerDonovan Puppyfucker A dagger in the dark is worth a thousand swords in the morningRegistered User regular
    NaOH, or Sodium Hydroxide is also known as lye. You know, that stuff you can dissolve corpses with. So yeah, face shields, aprons and elbow-length gloves at the very least.

    Also, open your windows and get some airflow going. All you need is a little bit of aluminium foil in the drain, and whoops you've got hydrogen gas...

  • FiggyFiggy Registered User regular
    Honestly, just remove the trap and clean it out properly. Dumping a bunch of chemicals down there might work, but it also might give you (and your family/pets) a nice headache for a while. It might also not work at all. Just save yourself the time and money and clean out the trap. That's where the blockage is.

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  • Seattle ThreadSeattle Thread Registered User regular
    The clog isn't in the trap, and it's pretty rare for the trap to ever get clogged (well, I should say that it's much, much less frequent than an actual in-pipe clog). Are you in an apartment? Usually the units are mirrored, and each fixture is tied into its counterpart in the unit next door (using one of these). They're a pain in the ass to work with a snake, since you need the snake to go down the pipe but it invariably wants to just go straight through. You can put the body of the snake lower than the cleanout in an attempt to get the cord at the proper angle, but usually it just happens via trial and error. And elbow grease--go ahead and get brutal, you're not going to hurt the plumbing.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    People have already given good advice in here, but I saw this mentioned in passing:

    Don't use your regular vacuum to suck out the clog. Shop vacs have an offset suction system (this is almost certainly not the right term for it) with a removable filter. Your standard-and-garden household vacuum sucks stuff basically straight across (or through) the motor. You don't want wet stuff in there. You usually also can't run your vacuum without the filter in it, which is necessary when sucking up liquids. They'll get into the filter mesh and, once it's waterlogged, you'll lose all suction. So don't do that.

    But you can get a little wet/dry vac for like $20 from Lowes. It won't have a lot of oomph and will probably just have a drain hose instead of an integrated bucket, but it might suffice to suck out your drain.

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  • HewnHewn Registered User regular
    Those little plastic snakes work wonders on your average clog.

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  • Seattle ThreadSeattle Thread Registered User regular
    Oh, a vacuum is going to do jack shit. If the system were closed, then maybe it'd have a chance, but any sort of suck/blow action is going to go straight up the vent.

  • EgoEgo Registered User regular
    I'd give the snake option a bit more of an effort, though as Makershot said if you're in an apartment this might not be easy.

    While I'm sure it's something not generally advised, you can take your hand-crank plumber's snake, cut off one end of it and attach the cable to a power drill, giving yourself a pretty decent home roto-rooter. It's a surprisingly effective way to clear clogs.

  • PelPel Registered User regular
    It's not your house so you probably don't care enough to make it happen, since landlord really needs to take care of serious issues, but when I get a clog that laughs at chemicals, I just attach one of these directly to the end of the pressure washer hose, snake it down as far as it will go, and fire it up. Work it around until the plug is pulverized and the pipe is clear, and, if you're like me, chuckle evilly.

    That particular one is crazy expensive. On ebay or a lot of other places, you can get them for $10-$30.

    I had a bad clog in a main line once, long ago. I hired the plumber to come out, and the machine he used was essentially that. I decided there was no need to ever pay $300 for this service again since that's basically the cost of the tools, even if you don't already have them.

  • weirdspaceshipsweirdspaceships i will eat your still-beating heart Registered User regular
    Update! I snaked the shit out of that motherfucker, then did more vinegar and baking soda right on the clog. The drain had dried out - it wasn't completely clogged, just a very, VERY slow moving drain. I blasted it a few times with that stuff, snaked a little more, and I've officially gotten it back to slow but still workable, it drains properly.

    Okay, not properly - if I fill the sink up, it still takes around ten minutes to fully drain. But that's better than four to six hours.

    I can live with it now, but I really want to see about getting in there and fucking with the rest of the clog. I guess I'm looking at chemicals. I know not do pour them in there with the vinegar and baking soda rattling around, or else there's a hazardous problem, so I'll give it a week's time of usage, flushing, hot water down the pipes, and then add the heavy duty stuff when the drain has dried again.

    The clog isn't in the trap, that was the first place I checked. The trap was actually surprisingly clean. I cleaned it more just because. I'm also not in an apartment, so no issues there.

    So I'm going to observe it for a few days, then go back over this thread and go shopping for chemicals. In the mean time, please pile on the advice, because I don't know what I'm doing!

  • EWomEWom Registered User regular
    If it's a grease build up you can heat it up for quite awhile (space heater, or less fun, hair dryer), then run the water for awhile and push the grease down into the sewer line. And you should remember never to pour any cooking grease down a cold sink.

    I know it's been solved, but that's a helpful hint for other people too.

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  • FoolproofFoolproof thats what my hearts become in that place you dare not look staring back at youRegistered User regular
    I solved this same problem by getting my stove busy boiling water. I kept the sinks full of very hot water and refilled them as they drained. It took awhile but then it cleared completely.

    I have my water heater turned down to a lower temperature to save energy and am careful with cooking greases. My girlfriend on the other hand has almost scalding water on tap and dumps grease down the drain all the time. I have clogged drains sometimes and she never does so maybe a simple adjustment to your water heater's limiter would fix things going forward.

  • weirdspaceshipsweirdspaceships i will eat your still-beating heart Registered User regular
    UPDATE: I plunged and snaked hardcore, and that made the drain run easier. It took it a lot longer to slow, and even then, it drained right away, like it's hitting some kind of hitch but can just zoom right past it. Awesome. Except now it's back to draining kind of slow, getting worse! It gets fixed temporarily whenever I snake it, but I'm getting tired of doing that every day. I'm being super careful with food particles and grease, and we even got a crumb trap for the drain.

    Whenever I snake, I'm pulling out long round white, black-spotted somethings. They get snagged right inside of the bore, and the sink runs fine until it no longer wants to. I guess I'm going to need to do a plunger and snake marathon one day and see what happens.

    Why is my sink infested with aliens, and, last chance, is there something else I can do before I resort to chemicals or a plumber?

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    Can you take a picture of them?

    Could just be the PVC or tape or something.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • NoisymunkNoisymunk Registered User regular
    We've dealt with a couple of drain problems in the houses we've rented. My wife's advice is to really get your landlord on the line. Pin him/her down and get a plumber appointment. If basic snaking didn't fix the problem, you might have some blockage further down the line that needs to be dealt with.

    Everytime we've called roto-rooter it's been a few hundred bucks and the landlord handled it. It sounds like you might have a grease/food buildup from years of tenants dumping dumb things down the drain.

  • Seattle ThreadSeattle Thread Registered User regular
    That or tampons. But that would be odd, unless this sink is on the first floor.

    On a related note... don't flush tampons down the toilet. Anyone. It's cruise control for a blocked mainline.

  • Seattle ThreadSeattle Thread Registered User regular
    Also, if you've got a snake like this, which I'm guessing you do, it might not be enough. That style is designed for bathtubs, really, and the lines behind a kitchen sink are wider and longer.

    It's not impossible, necessarily, but it could just be a case of having the wrong tool for the job. Of course, the right tool costs a few hundred bucks, so keep trying to get the landlord involved.

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    Have you tried chemical drain cleaner. A 1 gallon jug of the no-brand stuff costs like 10 bucks, and if you let it sit in there over night it works wonders.

    Is what I use on my shower drain, and while you sure as shit don't want to drink it, it works amazingly well.

  • GethGeth Legion Perseus VeilRegistered User, Moderator, Penny Arcade Staff, Vanilla Staff vanilla
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