Snake Caught in Pipe


Old 09-26-14, 01:07 AM
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Snake Caught in Pipe

Howdy y'all. I have an interesting problem. I was snaking out a floor drain (main line) using a flat sewer rod or tape like this:


It went in fine and successfully cleared the clog, but now I can't get the thing out. It's caught on a turn in the pipe about 6 feet in. I'm pretty sure that there's a lip or flange where two pipes come together and the ball thing on the end of the rod is getting stuck at that point, sorta like this:

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Red being the snake, blue the ball at the end of the snake, and black the pipes.

My friend and I have tried for about 5 hours to get the thing out, with no luck. We can push it further in with no problem, but no amount of pulling, twisting, jamming, back & forth motion, cursing or prayer seems to be helping to get it back out. We even tried cutting a section from an old hose and threading the tape through it - shoving it so the end of the section of hose is right up against the ball to hopefully help it over the lip where it's caught, but no dice.

The only solutions I can think of would be to get a bigger hose or tube that might slide over the ball thing instead of just up against it, or to use a come-along to try to force it out, or to cut the thing and somehow try to push it all the way to the main sewer in the alley. None of those ideas seems terribly good to me, but it's all I've got. I suppose as a last resort I can call a plumber, but I'm sorta afraid they'll want to take a jack hammer to the foundation to get to it.

Anybody got any suggestions?

Thanks in advance...
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Old 09-26-14, 04:02 AM
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I'm thinking a collapsed pipe that is catching the snake head.
Old 09-26-14, 08:14 AM
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I have had them catch pretty hard sometimes but nothing that takes more than a few minutes to get free. Like Norm201 I suspect you might have a collapsed or broken pipe and is acting like a barb. I think my first choice would be to shove it through to the sewer if the tape is long enough to reach. Then once it's out you'll still have to resolve the pipe problem. Possibly a powered drain snake but having a plumber send a camera down might be the best in spite of the cost.
Old 09-26-14, 10:09 AM
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I assume you've tried it already, but just in case you haven't...

The nice thing about the flat snakes, like fish tapes, you can actually turn the tape a few times and the turning will end up spinning the head that may help dislodge it. I'd have to vote with the others that there's something in there really holding it back and not just a little bit of a flange.

How much work would it be to get access to that elbow 6' in to see what you're dealing with?
Old 09-26-14, 10:28 AM
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Hi Guys,

I woke up with renewed energy to give it another try and managed to get the thing out. Here's what I did... I cut a length of garden hose - used a different hose this time, the first try was an old soaker type hose that was significantly less smooth and stiff than the garden hose that I used this time. I cut a 2 inch slit up the side of the hose and positioned the slit on the opposite side of the tape from where the thing was getting stuck. Then I gooped up the slit end with as much vaseline as I could get in there.

I pushed the snake a foot or so past the corner where it was caught and then I slid the hose down the tape until it got past the corner and butted up against the ball end. Then, using a vice grip, I was able to hold the hose in place and pull the snake to get the ball end up into the slit end of the hose. Once I had that done the whole thing came out easily.

There was great rejoicing!!!

Anyhow, I don't think the pipe has collapsed because I've had trouble at this particular corner before. I was using a new snake that had a head just slightly bigger than the old one.

And Zorft, I did try spinning or turning it last night... I think that would have worked if the catch had been in a straight section of pipe, but since it was at the corner it wasn't physically possible to turn it unless you pushed it about 8 feet past the corner because those tapes will only bend around the corner when you've got it vertical as opposed to horizontal if you get what I mean.

At any rate... problem solved, and you can bet yur boots that I won't be using this particular snake on this particular drain in the future!!!
Old 09-27-14, 05:29 AM
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Glad to hear you solved the problem.
Old 10-04-14, 01:43 PM
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When you say "I've had trouble at this particular corner before" it tells you that something's wrong and you're likely to have trouble again. It's worth taking a look, if you can find some reasonable way to access it. You might weigh the effort of snaking it once a year vs fixing it one time.
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