Kitchen sink clog diagnosis

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  #1  
Old 11-19-16, 04:37 PM
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Kitchen sink clog diagnosis

Hi All, so my kitchen sink is clogged. The water has been draining very slowly for several months. I finally had some time and took apart the p-trap, which was dirty indeed, but not clogged.

I attempted to stick a mini-snake into the pipe that goes into the wall and I got it partially in, but couldn't get it through all the say. Likely because of my amateur snake. Anyway, sure, it was dirty just like the p-trap, but couldn't determine if something is clogged.

So I put everything back into plan and now the the water won't go down. I thought what I just did would have at least made some kind of a different, for the better.

The garbage disposal appears to be running. I thought I'd give this another try before calling a plumber.

Could the problem be the disposal even though it runs?

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.
 
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Old 11-19-16, 05:13 PM
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Wait a long time without using the sink. Then run water. How long is it before the backup appears in the sink? The sooner it appears the closer the clog.

The motor in the disposal running has nothing to do with the drain being clear. It is possible that the disposal is clogged and if it were the water would back up almost immediately.
 
  #3  
Old 11-19-16, 06:59 PM
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Hi Pilot Dane, so I did what you suggested and it seems that the clog is almost instant (it never happened this quickly before), implying the problem is with the disposal. Any suggestion on how to tackle this? Or should I even make an attempt? By that I mean the hookups look a bit intimidating. The disposal is a Waste King Gourmet 9980 series.

Thanks.
 
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Old 11-19-16, 07:32 PM
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There is often an elbow coming out of the disposal, and if it's going to clog, that's usually where it clogs. Usually you remove a screw or two to separate the elbow from the disposal. You loosen the nut where the elbow goes into the drain pipe as well and then you can pull out the elbow to examine.
 
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Old 11-19-16, 09:39 PM
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Ok, it may not be the disposal. After I removed the p-trap (again), which connects to both the disposal and the wall, I have 2 openings: 1: coming out of the disposal and 2: going into the internal pipes.

Then, I ran the water and it comes straight through the pipe that's exposed (coming out of the disposal) with no delay. Therefore, the clog has to be outside of the disposal, right?

Does this mean I need a professional snake service into the pipes?

Thanks.
 
  #6  
Old 11-19-16, 10:12 PM
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Here's an image of how things look. The black pipe is coming out of the disposal and the white pipe right behind it goes in the wall.

I tried to stick the home depot unclogging tools in there, but all I could get is some black gunk.

What I still don't understand is why the clogging would get worse after I removed the p-trap earlier today and cleaned it out.

Just FYI, I rarely put food down the sink.

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  #7  
Old 11-20-16, 03:29 AM
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Take the pipe that goes into wall, I have a sink that clogs at the bend in the wall. Use your snake in the opening.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 05:32 AM
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Yes, your clog is just a bit further down the line. Removing trap and snaking at the wall. But get a quality snake. Something like this.

 
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Old 11-20-16, 07:35 AM
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What I still don't understand is why the clogging would get worse after I removed the p-trap earlier today and cleaned it out.
The clog got worse when you inserted the snake in the pipe the first time. The pipe had a lot of gunk in it, and the gunk was pushed back into the pipe.

You will need a good snake to clear this. Once it's clear use some type of enzyme cleaner on a regular basis.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 01:38 PM
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I did what I could with the tools available to me, but ended up calling a plumber.

I was charged $98 (the price for Sunday). He went straight to snaking the pipe, but had a hard time getting the snake in. He couldn't remove the white plastic pipe that goes into the copper pipe in the wall. But finally, he was able to push thru (by rotating the white pipe) and what appeared to be a clear passage.

The water went down easy at first, but it started to slow down again. Then he thought the problem could be with the disposal and did the same diagnostic that I had done earlier and the ruling was that the disposal is fine.

He said that the problem is nearby, likely inside the copper pipe section that's visible on my earlier photo, but it's full of sludge that's solidifying. He also said that the problem would return and suggested I do a "hydro-flush" that runs over $400. I said thanks and sent him on his way.

Sure enough, the problem is back. It's draining now, but very slowly, similar to how it was weeks ago.

Would hydro-flushing solve the problem? And is $400 a reasonable cost?

Another option he suggested would be to cut the copper pipe, because the plastic pipe is jammed, which would provide better access for additional snaking, and installing a new plastic pipe.

Thoughts?

Thanks.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 01:55 PM
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I would buy a quality snake and continue to snake repeatedly. Eventually you will clear it. For and additional few bucks more it's worth a try.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 02:21 PM
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If it's draining . . . . but draining s l o w l y; then I'd let it drain as much as possible and then consider sending down a few gallons of boiling hot water to see if I could melt the grease component in the sludge and get it to start flowing faster.

This has freed up some pipes for me, especially where soap and grease has waxed up to close off a drain pipe; but you may have to protect the plastic pipes a bit.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 02:38 PM
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Sinks can be tough. Quite often there is a sharp 90 degree bend just inside the wall. This prevents or makes it very difficult to get a proper, big auger/snake in there. I would not do a $400 treatment and instead use a small hand powered snake/auger myself. A small hand held one can be gotten through. You just need to keep working at it. I like to crank the handle when extending the snake then try pulling it back without turning and see what gunk you get. That will give you a good idea of what's in the pipe. Keep in mind that it's possible mushy greasy stuff. It won't come out in one big plug. You just need to keep working at it unill you get it.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 04:50 PM
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If the vent is directly above the sink on the roof, it may just be a continuation of the drain pipe upwards. If so, snaking from the roof may give you a straight shot down the drain.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 05:00 PM
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I apologize but I gotta ask. You haven't mentioned it so, have you tried any drain cleaner like Drano or Liquid plumber, etc. I have used liquid plumber many times. There are several different kinds. Some liquid stuff, some regular stuff, some pro stuff & some gel stuff which is obviously thicker & sets longer on tough clogs. Sometimes I gotta repeat the process a few times to get all the gunk cleared out, but its kinda my go to fix after using the plunger, etc.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 05:20 PM
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Sorry to disagree with chemical drain cleaners, but I do not recommend them. Unless the full strength of the chemical gets to the clog it won't do any good. If it must go through standing water then most likely it will be too diluted to be effective. They can damage piping. They do endanger the environment. Can be dangerous to skin and sink surfaces. And you must get the specific type to handle the kind of clog you have. Which you don't know. Snaking is the only reliable and reasonable method.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 05:42 PM
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If a professional drain tech couldn't clear the drain, you are going to have problems.

Another option he suggested would be to cut the copper pipe, because the plastic pipe is jammed, which would provide better access for additional snaking, and installing a new plastic pipe.
I would cut the pipe, leaving at least a 2" stub out from the wall. This will enable you to get the snake in.
To reconnect the trap arm, you will need a special copper to abs no-hub coupler.

Usually when you have a slow drain for years, the only real fix is to open up the wall and change the tee in the wall to ABS. Changing the tee should be a permanent fix and the drain flows like new.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 06:04 PM
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Agree with Brian. Open the wall replace the tee and be done with it. It will be worth the extra time and money. In the long run you will actually save money.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 08:02 PM
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I don't think opening up the wall is an option, or if it is, it's a very expensive one. The property is a condo and not a single family home.

That being said, is the hydro-flush a good option? Or would that not clean out the pipe thoroughly?

Thanks.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 08:40 PM
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Here's a pic of a job where I opened a wall. It wasn't to change a Tee, but it shows you it doesn't take much to expose the pipes.
Once the pipes are exposed, the actual repair is pretty quick.

Hardest part is patching the drywall.

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Rather than a drain cleaning service call a private plumber. They can clean your drain and advise on the easiest way to fix the problem.

This is also a DIY job with a few tools.
 
  #21  
Old 11-21-16, 01:21 AM
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Not sure about how the pros feel but I use a clog blaster the connects to a garden hose. Sometimes it takes thirty minuets or an hour but they work for me. http://uniweld.com/en/productlisting...blaster-detail
 
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Old 11-21-16, 03:54 AM
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I'd be a bit concerned about this. We sell them at our store but not very often. Drain lines are not meant for pressure. One weak spot and you're in for a line break. I agree that in most cases it should work. But I've also seen drain lines that were old and it didn't take much to break the glue joints.
 
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Old 11-21-16, 04:46 AM
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If it's a solid clog/plug the end of hose things can work. If the clog is not complete then the water can trickle past the clog without doing much.

The "balloon" has a small hole at the tip. The idea is you put it on the end of a garden hose. The hose puts in more water than can leave through the little hole so it blows up like a balloon which seals it against the pipe. The stream of water out the front slowly fills the pipe between the clog and balloon. Eventually the pressure builds enough to blow out the clog. So, as long as the clog is pretty solid it works. If there is a small passage through the clog the water drains away without a pressure buildup.
 
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Old 11-22-16, 06:01 PM
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Update: The plumber was nice enough to send someone over to re-snake at no cost. Not to discredit the previous person, but this guy seemed more experienced and knowledgeable.

But after he was done, even he said that the problem may return and said the only way to fix the problem for good is to replace the old copper piping with plastic, which is a costly job. But in the meantime, he recommended that I might need to get it snaked every 3-6 months. And he suggested using some type of degreaser and let it work overnight for at least a week.

Hopefully, this will last me a while.

Thanks again for all the information and feedback.
 
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Old 11-23-16, 01:15 AM
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There are plenty of enzyme type products that will help dissolve grease and soap buildup. ZEP makes one, Drain Care, that people back in VA swore by. I used it here in AZ even when I had no problems just as a precaution. Once a month or so for me, but you might need to do it every night for a week before bed, when the sink won't be used. Then back off the usage to maybe once a week. Has to be done soon while you have some drainage.
 
  #26  
Old 11-30-16, 07:40 AM
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I have to agree, chemical drain cleaners are expensive, harsh and often don't work or just delay the problem... calling a professional or even a friend or family member that's familiar with a bit of plumbing work can save you more in the long run. Glad the guy you called out didn't rip you off
 
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