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Help me solve this plumbing problem...

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As a single, broke person I need to fix this myself. The bathroom sink is clogged so bad it doesn't drain for about an hour.


I took apart the drain pipe, trap and elbow under the sink and cleared them out but it didn't solve the problem. I tried to use a snake to clean out the pipe in the wall but I couldn't get it in. Should I keep trying that? Should I use a chemical? Should I pour something else down the drain, like boiling water? Should I go in the basement and take something apart?



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Guest Sam1911

Hi! (happypamama's DH here)


First things first: What do you mean you couldn't get the snake to go into the drain? You shouldn't be putting it down the sink drain -- there's stuff in the way (see below). You should be disconnecting the sink TRAP and then running the snake into the drain line itself. That takes some doing, but they're designed to be force-fed down those lines. Keep a lot of pressure on the snake while you twist the handle and spin the snake cable. The head will swivel around until it finds the right angle to pop through each bend and twist in the drain pipe. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of push to get it to do that. Keep turning the snake and keep pushing hard. Once you've got 10' - 12' of it down the line, you're most likely far beyond any blockage point that you could possibly have caused, or could fix yourself.


Assuming you can ensure that the drain line itself is clear...


I just went through this exact problem at our house.


The sink took a long time to drain, but the trap was clear and I snaked 20' further down the drain line without hitting any obstructions.


The drain assembly itself was clogged with sticky goop, hair, toothpaste residue and other nasty ick.


If the drain is in fine shape itself, you can disassemble the stopper assembly and clear the gunk out with whatever implements you have on hand. The tube you're trying to clear is only about 12" long, so you don't really need any special tools.


Take the trap assembly off again. Look up under the sink and find the part that moves up and down when you raise or lower the stopper. There's a rod that sticks into the drain pipe that makes that work. A threaded cap holds that rod in place. Unscrew that cap and pull the rod out. Then you should be able to get the stopper to come out completely. That's it--the road is clear to poke, prod, pull, and/or pound whatever is clogging the drain assembly out of there. Once you've got that stuff cleared out, turn the stopper so that the opening in its tail is facing the right way and drop it into the drain hole. Wiggle the little rod back through the opening and make sure it operates the stopper correctly. Then put the sealing cap back on over it, and connect the rod to the lift handle.


As we also had a cracked seal that was making that assembly leak, I just replaced the whole drain assembly. The whole assembly (in plastic) costs about $8 at Home Depot. (In brass it's more like $25.) 'Most any "handy" type person could replace it themselves, but you'll want to study how the new one is put together before you try to get the old one out. You'll probably need a big set of slip-joint pliers and a can of "plumber's putty."


I'd recommend NOT putting more goo down the hole. Those chemicals don't really get rid of what was really causing the blockage, they just dissolve some of the goo and make a bit of water flow. Easing the immediate problem, but quite possibly making it so you now have a sink and lines full of caustic chemicals that you have to disassemble. Some of that stuff burns a bit if you get it on skin, so fix the problem, don't band-aid it.


Best 'o luck!



Edited by Sam1911
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The only thing I'd add to Sam1911's post is that you should turn off the water to the sink, and place a basin beneath the pipe just in case anything (including water) falls out when you disassemble it.


And use your cell phone to take pics as you take things apart, so you can consult them when it's time to put things back together.

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