New Pipes Slow Drain

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  #1  
Old 01-04-03, 08:09 AM
Royal
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Question New Pipes Slow Drain

I have a 3 year old house and recently have noticed a slowness in the drains in several of the sinks and the shower. I have had various degrees of advise on this, but I wanted to ask here first.

I was thinking of mixing lye and water and pouring it into the drains to remove whatever is causing the slowness of the drain. Some people have said that this would be fine to do and that I should realize good results, others who were afraid to use lye said no. What do you think? I have alot of it on hand, as I am a soap maker, and I am thinking this would help tremendously.

Thanks
 
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Old 01-04-03, 08:40 AM
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Lye is caustic and in old pipes can mean a bad thing, the best way I know of getting lines to drain better is the use of a drain cleaning machine, alot on here like chemicals, but I rearly think any of these chemical cleaners work. Others Will Argue
 
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Old 01-04-03, 09:04 AM
Royal
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Plumber, I know lye can cause problems in old pipes, but what about in new pipes? My pipes are only 3 years old.
 
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Old 01-04-03, 09:13 AM
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Not a chemist but I'd use the products that are on the store shelfs designed for drains, but I believe there all a waste of time and money. Others will Argue.

You can wait for other replies about using lye if you want, they will me around soon enough.
 
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Old 01-04-03, 09:18 AM
Royal
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Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 01-04-03, 08:46 PM
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Well, I again will agree whole heartedly with Plumber2000... While lye is caustic, it will have different effects on different types of solids that are in the drain and it wont just magically MELT all of them... Soap deposits in the shower drains can be nearly rock hard, and hair balls can stop even the strongest of chemicals... If your drains are still draining OKAY, then get some Drano Max BUILDUP REMOVER... it is safe for pipes and I have had success with it as a preemptive treatment... But your best answer is to rent an electric snake with atleast a 25' cable and run it down the shower drains, tub drains, and sink drains that are getting slow...
 
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Old 01-05-03, 09:06 AM
Royal
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Thanks for your help. I don't think I've ever seen Draino buildup remover, is it the foaming pipe snake product?
 
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Old 01-05-03, 01:04 PM
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Ron, we are still waiting (in ambush??) for the "Others who will argue"!!

The type of cleaner Ragnar mentioned is emzyme based. If you opt to try going that route, just read the labels of the cleaners on the shelf to find it. Several companies make similar products, and they all work (or, don't work!) about the same.
 
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Old 01-05-03, 05:14 PM
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I'm waiting also, I'm sure someone will tell me chemicals do work, I'm not convenced about any chemical drain cleaners. Only time I can see chemicals work is if the clog is close by, like in the trap and trap arm, beyond that point, forget it.
 
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Old 01-05-03, 06:48 PM
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OK, I will ring in. I do think that the enzyme based buildup removers can be effective in certain instances. I have seen the same drains on a quartelry or yearly basis and the amount of slag and grease on the sides of pipes was considerably less after the place started using the chemical. Granted, this is largely in commercial settings. I don't necessarily see the sense in spending $25.00 a year for drain maintainence chemicals if your drain only backs up once a decade. I also have seen good results with the newer foaming root killers, but not with copper sulfate.

Never use acid or lye. I have seen acid eat the enamel right off of a bathtub and lye will sometimes harden in the pipe if it doesn't make it through the clog. Then your in real trouble

...as for Royal, take a pair of tweezers and pull the hairball out from under the bath sink stopper and from the shower drain.
 
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Old 01-05-03, 07:27 PM
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Paulypfunk,

OK, i won't ambush you. The enzyme cleaners may have their place. "Once a month, Every month" -- to me seems like it would be a waste of money. I can call a drain cleaning service out every 18 to 24 months, and in a 4 year period will have spent less money. So, maybe every 60 or 90 days use the enzyme drain cleaner. This would make them cost effective, but will they work if you use them in that time frame?? I don't know.

Have to agree with you on the acid and lye approach. Not a good choice.

Tweezers work well. Just taking the stopper out once every month or so and cleaning it can't hurt.

Now, just 'tween you and me -- you still in Puyallup, or did you really move to Seattle? Or just you just change your location 'cuz only a couple of us know where in the hills Puyallup is??
 
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Old 01-06-03, 01:54 AM
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CHEMICALS

As a chemist with specialty in haircare, I add my two-bits. Years ago, before the Drackett Company (manufacturers of Drano) was sold, I actually visited their labs. It was very interesting to see clear, see-through toilets and hear a bunch of toilets flush in coordinated harmony.

Caustic (chemically, sodium hydroxide) works on clogs caused by hair by breaking down to smaller parts. Hair is a protein, whose molecular structure repeats itself, so the caustic breaks the bonds thereby breaking up the molecule. Caustic also reacts with many organic chemicals, such as grease to unclog.

To my knowledge, caustic generally does not react with iron pipes, much less the plastic PVC pipes. Acids definitely could react with iron pipes, which is the reason why chemical industries usually employ plastic pipes to transport acids.

The problem with using caustic to unclog is a physical contact one. A lot of times the hair ball gets compacted and dense that the caustic just breaks down the outter layer, opening up the pipe a little, but does not react with the rest of the hair. Also, as soon as the clog opens up a little, the caustic trickles down the drain, so it's no longer in contact with the clogger. Then, as soon as the user sees the clog disappearing by the level of the water going down, he puts more water through, which effectively dilutes or washes the remaining caustic down, leaving the remaining future clog-former unreacted. So, that's the reason why I also use tweezers to remove hairballs and have many cleanouts on my installed horizontal pipes (even though I haven't had to use them).

One final note of interest. Many ladies have their hair straighten, or "relaxed". The way this works is a certain amount of caustic is applied, usually in form of a paste to the hair. Again, the caustic breaks down the hair in a more controlled manner (strength of caustic and contact time). The thick paste keeps the hair straight. Then, a neutralizer is applied in the form of an acid or the paste is simply rinsed off. The result is "straighten" hair. The danger of leaving the caustic in contact with the hair totally breaks it down, and the hair actually falls off (this is termed "damaging the hair"). The next time you're called upon to unclog a pipe, also ask if your client would like their hair relaxed!!

EDTA
 
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Old 01-06-03, 08:44 AM
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Now thats the words from a chemist

Chemicals won't do the same job as a cleaning machine, if and when they do work, it will plug back up in a matter of time. By that time you will be back down to the store and buying more chemicals, washing money down the drain.
 
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Old 01-06-03, 09:07 AM
Royal
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Thank you ETDA, that's what I pretty much thought about using caustic soda for the job.

I will work the tweezers first, then try something else if that proves not to open them up enough.
 
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Old 01-06-03, 07:27 PM
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First, I would like to ask the significance of your nickname, or is it coincidence that nearly every bottle of hair care product in my bathroom has Tetrasodium EDTA in it...?

Next, one last word on chemicals... I said a hairball will stop even the strongest of chemicals, what I was speaking of is what EDTA mentioned... A good hair stoppage will cause the water to just sit in the sink, most acid type cleaners poured into sitting water will dilute so much instantly that they have very little effect on the stoppage if they get to it... The heavier types of cleaners, the foaming ones included, MIGHT get to the clog but will react minimally with the outside surface of the hair and won't go much farther... In the meantime, the water sits in the sink and causes several problems... One is that it makes a plumbers life miserable to come in to a stopped up drain that someone has turned into a bubbling oozing pit of flesh-peeling, eye-melting battery acid... But secondly, while acids will react more with metals and caustics may react worse to some organics, there are other materials in the plumbing system that can be affected... First the chemical is sitting in a sink with a cultured marble, porcelain, Corian, granite, glass, etc, etc, finish... There is no way to cover all the bases and tell someone how each chemical will react to each type of surface... Then the chemical is sitting in the pop-up assembly which is a combination of several materials, plastic, brass, nylon, rubber, etc, etc... Then the pipes can be connected with mechanical joints that are sealed with teflon tape, teflon dope, rubber washers, nylon washers, etc, etc... Then the chemical is sitting in an arm that can be plastic, lead, brass, copper, cast iron which again will be sealed with dope, tape, or mechanical fittings with rubber washers and metal clamps...

The point of all that nonsense is simply to say that a plumber can not, in good conscience, suggest to someone to pour potentially harmful chemicals into a plumbing system that can do significant damage to parts of the plumbing system and to the occupants of the house when we know full well that it is VERY unlikely to have the desired effect...

However, the enzyme type cleaners seem to be a good preventive measure on sink and shower drains that are prone to "organic" clogs, and are not particularly dangerous to handle unless you make a dry martini out of some...
 
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Old 01-07-03, 10:15 AM
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Lefty, Puallyup is nice, but I have always lived in Seattle proper.

I don't know how I ending up defending enzymes! Ah the irony! My old company had a quota of chemical that we had to sell, causing me to resent them.

But in terms of legitimate use... We had several commercial kitchens Burgers, chicken wings, etc.....that put so much grease into the plumbing system, even with a grease trap in the kitchen( !) that the city asked us to do something. Once we put them on a prescriptive dose of enzyme the level of grease collecting in the city manholes dropped to almost nothing. Now in this instance the price for the chemical -vs- the cost of mechanical cleaning was about the same, but we aren't allowed to work in the city mains and the labor costs were so much cheaper. We just showed up every quarter and dropped a bucket of exzyme off.

Also I will reccommend enzyme for any home that has a flat sink line under slab that needs a good roto-rooting once a year. As I said, if a pipe only clogs every 5 or 10 years then the chemical doesn't pay for itself.
 
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Old 01-07-03, 03:55 PM
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I didn't find the answer to this question while reading the replies so i'll ask it. Do you have a septic system or public sewage? You could simply need to be pumped out. Most new systems are installed with Zabel filters that will slow or shut down the efflunet flow.
 
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