Kitchen sink plumbing issues


Old 07-26-07, 04:57 PM
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Kitchen sink plumbing issues

About 3 weeks ago, we received several inches of rain and water and organic waste came in through my dryer vent, flooding a portion of my basement with water. At the same time, my kitchen sink drain started draining very slow and backs up now with only about 2 cups of water. My father and I recently installed a new garbage disposal without difficulty.

My house is about 80+ years old and in a historic neighborhood. I plunged, draino'ed, and snaked without success. Today, I was able to take apart all of the plumbing under the sink and get a snake several feet down the stub out. It brought up some dark black sludge that smelled awful. I poured several cups of very hot water directly down the stubout and it did go down, but very slowly.

I'm hesitant to try to put the plumbing back together without knowing if the clog has been relieved or not.

I also did put together the plumbing a few days ago simply so that I could do some dishes and it leaked badly. I've never done any plumbing repair by myself and don't even know how to begin to troubleshoot it by myself.

My questions are these:

What else (short of calling a plumber) can I do to try to relieve this clog?

Is it likely that this is from the large amount of rain or from something else?

How can I put my plumbing back together without leaks?

I will call a plumber if I have to, but I'd rather not. I'd like to make sure that I have all done everything that I can prior to calling in a professional.

My plumbing is PVC and my stubout is cast iron, I think. All PVC plumbing is new except for the last connector between the P trap and the stub out.


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Old 07-26-07, 05:52 PM
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You are in an arena of lions armed with a kitchen knife. Of course the water coming in the wall through which the dryer vent goes has nothing to do with the sink in the kitchen, you know that.
Try not to use too much caustic drain openers. One, they are harmful to you if you spill them on you or your clothing, and two, they are harmful to the environment, especially if you are on a septic system.
If you are getting gunk on a snake in the sink drain, it may be time to call a plumber to have him (her) snake it completely as well as your entire system. The garbage disposal should only be used minimally until you get this fixed.
You, also may have a venting problem, which would require a trip up on the roof with a garden hose to chug down the vent and loosen up any stuff that has accumulated there, compliments of squirrels, birds, etc. But if you don't feel comfortable on the roof, call a pro. It ain't the fall, but the sudden stop at the bottom that makes for a bad day.
As far as the leaks, make sure the nuts on the drain pieces are started squarely and are not cross threaded. Make sure you are using the proper washer on each fitting requiring a washer. Tell us where the leaks are and we'll try to help fix em.
Old 07-26-07, 08:51 PM
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Hi Larry,

Thanks for your reply. I actually didn't know about the rain. I figured that if there was enough rain and the water table rose, the plumbing could back up, esp if there is a lot of dirt and sand flushed in to the system. Just consider it faulty logic. This is my first foray into plumbing repairs by myself. I'm a paramedic, not a plumber

I currently do not have my sink hooked up at all. I've been doing dishes in my utility room sink and eating out a lot. I get too frustrated working on my plumbing for more than an hour or so.

What does the roof venting have to do with my plumbing? (yes, I'm a novice)

The leaks start from the north end of the P trap and leak at every joint to the stub out. I can't help but think there is a better (and more simple) way to connect the sink to the stub out, creating fewer connections.

Is this likely accumulation over the course of time, or something acute? How can I prevent this from happening again?

Thanks again!
Old 07-26-07, 09:20 PM
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There may very well be a connection between a heavy rainfall and your plumbing backing up if your house was built in the 1920's.

Although it has been prohibited for many years back in the '20s it was common to pipe downspouts into the sanitary sewer.

At the least you will need to have your drain piping cleaned by a professional (like Roto-Rooter) and you quite possibly will need to have the drainage piping replaced in the near future. Chemical cleaners will not do the job.
Old 07-27-07, 04:10 AM
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The roof venting allows an equalization of air from the atmosphere to the sewer system. Example: take a soda straw and place it in a Coke (Pepsi if you are in the north), place your thumb over the top of the straw and withdraw it from the bottle. Without equalizing air, the soda will remain in the straw until you release your thumb. Same principle involved with your plumbing. But of more concern is the sludge you are finding in the drains. Once they are cleaned, you can then determine if the venting is properly cleared.
In modern plumbing, rain tables, except in a severe condition such as a flood, should not have an affect on your house plumbing, since the plumbing is continuous from your house to the sewer system.
As far as your trap connections goes, disassemble each piece and reassemble using the proper gaskets, like stated earlier, and make sure you don't cross thread any nuts. You should only have 4 joint to contend with. One at the tailpiece of the sink, one at the top of the ptrap, one at the outlet of the ptrap and one at the wall stub. Be patient and work them one at a time.
Old 07-27-07, 04:41 AM
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"My father and I recently installed a new garbage disposal without difficulty."
Interesting quote...

An 80 yr old house probably has old pipes that are subject to rusting inside. Overtime, this constricts the amount of flow through the pipes. Add to that a new disposal firing food waste down the drain and you end up with a clog.

My guess is that you will need to have the lines snaked out. A plumber can also take a camera inside your pipes to determine the amount of sludge and rust present and recommend replacement if needed.

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