Drano in PVC/Septic?

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  #1  
Old 11-03-12, 05:25 PM
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Drano in PVC/Septic?

Kitchen sink drain in distress. I've tried a snake as far as I could get it and a shopvac and whatever is in there is stubborn. We're getting little clots of gelatinous spongy algae or something.

Can I use Drano or something like it with my PVC pipes and septic tank? I know what the label says - I want the real scoop.

Also, is it more likely the sink drains to the septic tank or directly to the drain field, which is right behind the kitchen? No garbage disposall.

Thanks in advance.


Steve
 
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  #2  
Old 11-05-12, 05:17 PM
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I like Liquid Fire myself but before you pour anything in it, is there a cellar where you can get to the pipes? There maybe a clean-out there.
 
  #3  
Old 11-05-12, 05:27 PM
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You might be far better off with an enzyme cleaner. Bio-Clean (do a Google) is recommended by many plumbers.
 
  #4  
Old 11-05-12, 05:36 PM
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I agree with Furd. Enzymes are slow but steady workers. It will take a few treatments ( and days ) to fully open the pipes, but it won't hurt you or the pipes and is beneficial for the septic system.
 
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Old 11-05-12, 06:31 PM
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Goldstar, is your sig from an old Texaco commercial? If so, complete the following:
You'll wonder where the yellow went when you...................................
 
  #6  
Old 11-05-12, 07:00 PM
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How about sone advice on proper draincleaner technique? I'm no plumber but it seems like any product wouldn't get much past the trap? And what does would be very dilute?
 
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Old 11-05-12, 08:42 PM
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Most drain cleaners tell you to pour a quantity of it in the drain with a few ounces of water & let it set for awhile. Just follow the instructions. You still didn't answer my question about access to the pipes & a possible clean-out.
 
  #8  
Old 11-05-12, 08:53 PM
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Drain cleaning is as much an art as it is a science. Trying to properly explain the use of a power snake over the Internet is liking teaching someone to drive an eighteen wheeler via cell phone.

I'm not sure of what you are referring to when you write "trap" but in plumbing the trap is the bend in the drain immediately below a sink or other fixture that allows the water to flow through while "trapping" the reverse flow of sewer gases back into the house. Generally a snake is NOT run through the trap (hence my confusion of your question) but the trap is removed and the snake run through the sewer.

As for the enzyme product being diluted or not traveling through the trap...enzyme products contain living organisms that feed on the grease and other organic muck in the drain piping. They breed and multiply in the environment and literally "eat" their way through the muck. It does take a bit but it is the best method to clear a SLOW drain. No, they cannot get through a completely plugged drain but most likely neither could you without professional equipment AND training.
 
  #9  
Old 11-06-12, 01:53 AM
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"You still didn't answer my question about access to the pipes & a possible clean-out."

OK, here's the layout. I assume a cleanout it's a way to open the pipe from outside. No basement, I'm in Florida. There is a square bolt about 1.5 inches in diameter, positioned about 3 ft up from the ground, a bit lower than the level of the basins (higher than the drain pipes under the sink) and maybe 1.5 feet off to the side from the position of the drain exit pipe, in the siding on the exterior of the wall that the sink is against. I'm not sure what it is and it's painted over.

Both drains go straight down from the sinks to U-shaped vertical bends (what I'm calling traps) about 5" deep. The traps are connected to 90 degree bends in a horizontal section of pipe from the top of the U going into the wall. There are some fittings here where the two drains Y into this horizontal section but they seem to be glued.

The vertical drain pipe has pvc compression (? not sure about my terminology here) fittings that loosen by hand so the vertical section can be removed from the drain and the trap, but the bend in the horizontal section is part of the horizontal pipe. I would have to cut to get access past the 90 degree bend.

I haven't cut yet because I don't see the advantage. I would then have a horizontal section of pipe with a 90 degree bend facing down and couldn't get liquid cleaner into it. Cutting the horizontal pipe would make access with the snake easier, but I'm already getting about 5 feet in even with the trap on. If I get a power snake I could cut but I haven't committed to that yet.

I followed the directions on the cleaner. My question about the trap was about me not understanding how the cleaner would get past the trap - since I can't run water for 15 minutes (directions say to wait), it must be collecting in the trap. I know the clog is past the trap (because I've gotten the snake way past it), and after running water in the cleaner must be very dilute by the time it gets to where the clog is . . . but it sounds now like the recommendation is biological cleaners only not chemical.

Anyway, I'm looking for a strategy from here and info about my alternatives at this point, I'm still sizing things up unfortunately. I've been thinking I'll have to get into the wall to see if there's something I can access in there, any suggestions before I do that?

BTW I wasn't getting much response here so I posted another thread asking about mechanical rather than liquid approches.

Also I checked the Bio-CLean website and they recommend a "mechanical cable" to break clogs, my impression is it's more for maintenance.
 

Last edited by suobs; 11-06-12 at 02:14 AM.
  #10  
Old 11-06-12, 02:41 AM
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Furd wrote: "No, they (enzymes) cannot get through a completely plugged drain but most likely neither could you without professional equipment AND training."

It is clogged. So your response sounds like a recommendation to forget about cleaners, tools, and DIY, and give it up and call a plumber?

One other factor: the septic tank is no more than 20 feet from the sink. This seems like a short run if I can just get into the pipes at the right place with a tool with some mechanical leverage and the ability to get around corners (rather than the little bent handle on my hand snake). It seems like more leverage for twisting the cable is needed to help with getting around corners - it's not like I'm trying to power through a 2x4.

So given this new info and my configuration above, can I get some info on: 1) where and how should I enter the pipe, 2) is there a tool I can buy or rent that will be easier to maneuver than my hand snake and can take corners easily, and 3) can you give me any tips on using a better, more refined tool than I have?
 

Last edited by suobs; 11-06-12 at 03:04 AM.
  #11  
Old 11-06-12, 03:33 AM
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You need to remove the trap and snake with a proper sized cable.
 
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Old 11-06-12, 05:24 AM
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I've seen clean-out plugs on the outside in Florida, either on the side of the foundation (if you want to call it that) or in the ground, which is probably crab grass.
 
  #13  
Old 11-08-12, 10:22 PM
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Yes, it's not called a foundation, just a thick concrete slab houses sit on down here.

Regarding whether there's a "clean-out", there is a square bolt in the exterior siding near where the sink is. The bolt is about 1.5 inches in diameter. It's about 3 ft above ground, lower than the level of the basins and higher than the drain pipes under the sink. It is a couple of feet from the position of the sinks in the direction of the septic tank. I'm not sure what it is and it's painted over.

IS THIS A CLEAN-OUT? SHOULD I OPEN IT AND TRY A SNAKE IN THERE? I really have no idea if it's a cleanout for the drain or if it has something to do with water coming in to the faucet. I would expect a cleanout to be somewhere around the level of the drain pipe . . . ?
 

Last edited by suobs; 11-08-12 at 11:02 PM.
  #14  
Old 11-09-12, 06:31 AM
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That's the clean-out. Open it & snake it.
 
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Old 11-09-12, 10:53 AM
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Here's a photo. How do I control which direction (left or right) the snake goes once it's in the vertical section? I assume it connects to a drain pipe at the same level as the drain pipe under the sink?

Name:  4.Outlet.in.Exterior.Wall_PB090005.jpg
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mmmmmmmmmmoooooore characters
 
  #16  
Old 11-09-12, 02:17 PM
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That's quite high for a clean-out. Controlling the snake, left or right, is not an easy task. You just have to take a chance. You could also try some drain cleaner in there.
 
  #17  
Old 11-09-12, 03:36 PM
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I'm pretty sure now the bolt is in the vent. It seems to go up where you see it in the photo, then across the attic to the rear of the house, then up through the roof on the back pitch so it doesn't show from the front. It's 2" PVC.

Not sure what that tells me though. I tried my old hand snake in it and couldn't get further than the height of the bolt, apparently there's a T or corner the cable is not turning into. Still don't know where the drain going to the septic tank is.
 
  #18  
Old 11-09-12, 04:55 PM
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If that goes up, it's not a clean-out for the drain. It could be some kind of clean-out in case the vent gets clogged but I've never seen that before.
 
  #19  
Old 11-10-12, 07:45 AM
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So as near as I can tell the square bolt in the photo above is in the vent pipe. Can anyone tell me what the bottom configuration of this pipe should look like? Online diagrams show an inlet from the sink drain and the vent pipe dropping straight down to a drain leading eventually to the septic. Is that what I should assume is there?

So I can assume that any blockage holding back the sink drain has to be before the sink drain gets to this vent pipe? Does that make good plumbing sense? Or could there also be a blockage further down that is stopping water from getting out to the septic tank?
 
  #20  
Old 11-10-12, 01:00 PM
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I guess everyone lost interest but here's the end of the story. After I got the bolt off the vent cleanout I could see that water was backing up into the vent. So the block was past the drain entry, somewhere en route to the septic tank. I put a snake in through the cleanout in the vent pipe and that helped a little. Then I put a Cobra bladder into the vent pipe opening and pushed it down past the sink drain entry and that really cleared it out. I'll get some Bio-Clean for maintenance.
 
  #21  
Old 11-10-12, 01:03 PM
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I read your original post again. Can you explain the "clots" a little more clearly? Is the water draining slowly? If it is open that clean-out again & run the water. See if there is a difference. You might want to put a screen over it, so nothing can enter.
 
  #22  
Old 11-10-12, 01:10 PM
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Can you explain the "clots" a little more clearly?

Spongy, jello-like clumps of blackish-whitish or greenish stuff. Further in this morning I found some little crumbly white gravel-like deposits, I guess from the hard water? But not much of that. I doubt an enzyme cleaner will help with that.
 
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Old 11-10-12, 01:46 PM
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Where do you see those clumps & is the water draining slowly?
 
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Old 11-11-12, 12:22 AM
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Water is draining fine now and the jelly clots were throughout, both in the drain and beyond the vent but mostly in the drain before the vent. The crumbly white lumps (about 1/8" in diameter) were past the vent and had gotten stuck in the twisty thing at the end of the snake cable. There was also some accumulation of the white crumbly stuff around the vent cleanout where the water had backed up.

I never did pull out a single big clump of anything using the snake, nothing like your classic drain clog held together with hair. All soft and gooey.
 
  #25  
Old 11-11-12, 11:33 AM
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Soft & gooey can still clog a drain. If the water is draining well now, leave it. I still recommend Liquid Fire for any future problems.
 
  #26  
Old 11-11-12, 05:58 PM
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The link is to the MSD for Liquid Fire. I would not recommend putting sulphuric acid in a septic system.

http://catalog2.handyhardware.com/We...SDS/250002.pdf
 
  #27  
Old 11-11-12, 08:22 PM
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No, none of that for me. I've ordered some Bio-Clean. Frankly I'd rather snake it out weekly than put sulfuric acid in there.
 
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