Clogged Drains, New Pipes

Once upon a time we had a tub drain which was missing the hair trap. Tub drain with no hair trap!

The tub was very finicky. Some days it would drain quickly, other days it would take 30 minutes to drain after the boys took a bath. One day (today) someone (not me) pooped in the tub…and the tub wouldn’t drain at all.

Luckily, someone (me) had just gotten a drain snake from his Grandpa. Several large globs of hair came out, so I put the snake back in. This time, it got stuck. I twisted, I tugged, I twisted it the other way. It wouldn’t budge. After weighing the cost of having a plumber come (embarrassment at having gotten it stuck, also more than $25) against the cost of a new snake (about $25) I decided to just force the snake out.

If you haven’t seen a snake before, it’s a tightly wound wire — essentially a spring. When you force a snake you stretch it, ruining it. With some fierce pulling, I finally got the snake out. The very end of it was so stretched out I was afraid that part had broken off inside the pipe. I tried using a coat hanger wire to reach inside the pipe and feel for it. The coat hanger wouldn’t go in!

Here’s the old P-trap.

The old P-trap with a 45 degree bend

When I was snaking, I had the bottom bend taken off. You can see that snaking would be awkward since you have to go up the 90 degree angle, straight about 4 inches, then take a 45 degree turn. Snakes bend, but once they’re in it’s tough to make them turn. The place that the hanger was getting stuck was right past the 45 degree turn. Not an easy access place.

You might ask “Well, why not unscrew those pipes and go straight on the back side of the 45?”. I tried, but was unable to get that joint loose. Eventually I took a 24 inch pipe wrench and tried to loosen the center galvanized steel piece.

Holy Pipe!

See the light? The pipe just got crushed instead of unscrewing. you can’t just leave a big leak like that, so now I HAD to get something off of there so I could fix it. I forced the crushed pipe and somehow the 45 started moving! Hooray!

Once the 45 was off I was able to find the problem.

Ruined snake, a chunk of hair, and a shampoo bottle lid

That shampoo bottle lid was in front of that huge wad of hair. Also you can see part of the snake above, including a stretched out section. My guess of what happened is that the snake some how got past the shampoo lid, then snagged the hair, then when I tried to back the snake out, it got wedged into the side of the pipe, then eventually at the 45 degree bend.

Well, I might’ve just replaced the pipes that I had taken out, but I didn’t want to ever have a shampoo lid (or toy. or anything else) stuck in those pipes. So, I decided to replace tub drain with one that had a hair trap.

Our shiny new pop-up drain

Now that’s shiny! Best of all though is that nothing that would clog the drain can fit, except hair, but I can deal with that.

With the new drain in place I was ready to replace the P-trap. I ended up going with ABS piping instead of the cast iron/galvanized steel/brass mix they had been using, mainly because Home Depot didn’t have all the parts I needed in any material except ABS.

New P-trap!

Hey look! New pipes! For extra-credit I got rid of the 45 degree elbow and just twisted the P to the side till it lined up with the straight pipe. I also wire brushed the threads on the metal pipe and used teflon tape so I should have a straight shot to snake the drain pipe next time!

Caroline has cleaned out the poopy tub and the boys have taken a bath, and so far we’re leak free. Hooray!

This entry was posted in Projects, Something Interesting and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *