Any plumbers on board?

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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby Kraftster on Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:12 pm

So, I have a rather significant (or at least intrusive) plumbing issue with the bath tub in my house. Hoping to get a little help.

We've been in the house for 3 years. Its about 60 years old. The tub has not had a stopper since we moved in. The drain would slow from time to time, we'd use some vinegar/hot water or draino and we'd be good to go.

Recently, the drain slowed more significantly and I figured there was a major clog. Since we have a home warranty, I called AHS and we got someone out to clean the clog. During his visit, he told me that he cleared the clog but that any future clogs would not be covered by the home warranty because we do not have a stopper and he was informing us that we needed to have this fixed.

He also said that so long as the no stopper + existing trap remained, we'd just keep getting clogged. He said as part of putting the stopper in, they'd replace the trap. He gave me a quote of $900 for this work. (Blech)

I figured, okay, well, I can deal with what we've dealt with with this drain since being here for the time being because I don't want to spend $900. Well, the first shower after the drain was "cleared" the water was backing up before I got out of the shower. So much for it being cleared.

Now, two weeks later, it is the worst it has ever been. Basically a standing water clog a couple of different times and hardly draining at all. I've plunged the drain to get it to drain and dealt with a bunch of hair and black crap coming up when plunging. Not sure how the drain ended up worse than ever after this plumber was out here, almost feel like he sabotaged things so that I'd need him to come back to do the $900 job.

Anyway, I'm trying to see what I can do to clear this thing without spending $1000+ (since now a clog removal will be part of things too).

Starting from a baseline of NO plumbing knowledge whatsoever, I think I've read enough and scoped things out enough to report that I have a drum trap. I think that's what he wanted to replace. I think that in order to access the drain for snaking purposes, I'd have to enter through the drum trap, right? I don't think the snake would pass through the drum trap if I go in through the overflow.

Now, here's another thing I've observed. When I run the sink for maybe 30 seconds, water + black soot begins to come up out of the tub train. I am concluding from this that the clog must be somewhere past where the sink drain ties into the main line. Does that seem like a safe assumption? Assuming the sink pipe comes straight across from the sink, that's probably 3 feet from the drum trap where the sink ties in. Anything else I can conclude from this?

tl;dnr

I have a clogged tub:

(1) If I have a drum trap set up on my tub drain, do I have to access the drum trap in order to snake anywhere past the trap? Or can I go in from the overflow?

(2) Can I assume the clog is past where the sink ties in if running water from the sink causes water to back up into the tub?

(3) Should I just pay someone $1000 to unclog, put in a new stopper and new trap (P-trap?).
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby mac5155 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:33 pm

id get a second opinion. What kind of plug is it? is there a lever or do you press the plug to open/close the drain (think taking a bath). If its a push button one, there shouldn't even be a visible stop. You;d need to find the drum trap. Sometimes they are under the floor which is where you run into expensive repairs... do you have an access panel on the opposite side of the wall from the faucet? You may find it there. However I think you could probably just deal with this for a while. At least, I would (I have been... mine plugs up once a month. I just get the snake and plunger and go to town.) Also, getting one of those plastic hair catcher things really does work.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby Kraftster on Tue Aug 27, 2013 7:50 pm

Maybe I don't know what a stopper is. There is just an open drain with nothing in it (we use one of the plastic hair catchers). I assumed a stopper was basically a plug in the open drain hole. There's no plug at all.

I do have an access panel behind the tub (in bedroom closet), so I can get to the drum trap. It looks like someone replaced the cap at some point with a rubber cap, so I imagine that I could get that off.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby Willie Kool on Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:13 pm

Yeah, you would need to open the trap to snake beyond it, but I bet that thing is packed full of hair. Just cleaning out the trap may be good enough.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby mac5155 on Tue Aug 27, 2013 8:35 pm

Kraftster wrote:Maybe I don't know what a stopper is. There is just an open drain with nothing in it (we use one of the plastic hair catchers). I assumed a stopper was basically a plug in the open drain hole. There's no plug at all.

I do have an access panel behind the tub (in bedroom closet), so I can get to the drum trap. It looks like someone replaced the cap at some point with a rubber cap, so I imagine that I could get that off.


A stopper is like a little cage thing that you would be able to see in the open drain. Think one of those hair thingies that is inside the pipe. You don't have one, and that's fine. I'd go see if you can clean out the drum trap. I don't think you'll need any repairs. You don't have anything bad or out of the ordinary. That dude just was hoping for a $1000 job that would take him a couple hours at most.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby Kraftster on Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:53 am

Well at least the water was drained this morning. Was left with a nice pile of black sooty crap in the tub, though. Awesome.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby mac5155 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:17 am

Kraftster wrote:Well at least the water was drained this morning. Was left with a nice pile of black sooty crap in the tub, though. Awesome.


oh, thats got all your stink of the day in it. thats nasty.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby PensFanInDC on Wed Aug 28, 2013 10:56 am

Drum traps suck. If you can afford it, get a second opinion and replace it if it's in your budget.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby Kraftster on Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:01 am

PensFanInDC wrote:Drum traps suck. If you can afford it, get a second opinion and replace it if it's in your budget.


How involved a project is it? Not that I would consider doing it myself, but I would just like some idea of what a reasonable quote might be.

If I'm going to try to clean it myself and perhaps snake while I'm in there, are there any major things that I need to keep in mind/watch out for?
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby redwill on Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:31 am

There are occasional news stories about snakes coming up out of toilets and biting guys on their dangly bits.

So watch out for that.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby viva la ben on Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:38 am

Just be completely environmentally unfriendly and pour the max strength hair clog remover down your tub every month.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby PensFanInDC on Wed Aug 28, 2013 11:46 am

Kraftster wrote:
PensFanInDC wrote:Drum traps suck. If you can afford it, get a second opinion and replace it if it's in your budget.


How involved a project is it? Not that I would consider doing it myself, but I would just like some idea of what a reasonable quote might be.

If I'm going to try to clean it myself and perhaps snake while I'm in there, are there any major things that I need to keep in mind/watch out for?


I would need to see the setup. Is there an access panel to the trap? Is it a PVC trap or is it steel? Would tile need to be cut? How much drywall would need to be cut and replaced?

Snaking through a drum trap is tough. The snake would have to go in and then somehow maneuver down and make it through the waste hole. That's a tall task.

If you have PVC drain pipes (I dont know how old your home is) then just be careful of damaging any of the pipe especially where fittings are glued together. PVC pipe and fittings are tough to break or damage so you should be fine. If you have an old home and there are steel drain pipes....don't do anything. Call a contractor.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby Kraftster on Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:09 pm

PensFanInDC wrote:
Kraftster wrote:
PensFanInDC wrote:Drum traps suck. If you can afford it, get a second opinion and replace it if it's in your budget.


How involved a project is it? Not that I would consider doing it myself, but I would just like some idea of what a reasonable quote might be.

If I'm going to try to clean it myself and perhaps snake while I'm in there, are there any major things that I need to keep in mind/watch out for?


I would need to see the setup. Is there an access panel to the trap? Is it a PVC trap or is it steel? Would tile need to be cut? How much drywall would need to be cut and replaced?

Snaking through a drum trap is tough. The snake would have to go in and then somehow maneuver down and make it through the waste hole. That's a tall task.

If you have PVC drain pipes (I dont know how old your home is) then just be careful of damaging any of the pipe especially where fittings are glued together. PVC pipe and fittings are tough to break or damage so you should be fine. If you have an old home and there are steel drain pipes....don't do anything. Call a contractor.


OK. That is all helpful.

There is an access panel. It places me directly behind the tub. The drum trap is steel and the pipes are steel. The drum trap has a rubber cap on it, so it seems the original cover was cut off at some point.

It really is very easy to get to the trap, but the pipes are definitely all steel.

Easy access, all steel pipes, no drywall. Think I can find better than $1k?
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby Pitt87 on Wed Aug 28, 2013 12:10 pm

meow wrote:
PensFanInDC wrote:
meow wrote:Lady-friend got ahold of the plumber and got him to come look at it. Apparently he broke some valve, she doesn't know which one, and is replacing it for free. That saves me the hassle of tearing into my bathroom for the 3rd time in the past year.


I would want to know why you have an isolation valve to just your master tub and why is it in your utility room, assuming he didn't go anywhere else which he shouldn't have except to drain the water down. Glad you got it taken care of. Breaking a valve and not noticing or saying anything about it is shady.

Shady indeed. He was the plumber our home warrenty company sent. Definitely not my first choice and I will not recommend him


I had 6 plumbers through my house sent by the home warranty company to clear a very simple but significant blockage. I called Frew in Emsworth once and the guy cleared the block with relative ease, checked my stack while he was at it, and have had zero problems since.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby Shyster on Wed Aug 28, 2013 1:00 pm

Kraftster wrote:Easy access, all steel pipes, no drywall. Think I can find better than $1k?

I’m no plumbing expert, but that $1k quote seems outrageously high for a relatively simple job that wouldn’t even require cutting any wall/floor/ceiling. I spent nowhere near that much combined for the three plumbing jobs I had done earlier this year by Terry’s Plumbing (snaking a drain line, overhaul/repair of a toilet, and a complete sewer-line cleaning using the “Warthog” machine). Considering that guy was really working for the home-insurance company and not you, I bet was trying to see if you’d bite on a total screw-job.

If you can see that the sink also runs into that drum trap, then I’d assume the drum trap is the cause. Get some long, thick rubber gloves, take off the cap, and see what crud you can yank out of there. I might also pour some drain cleaner straight into the trap. If the sink doesn’t connect to the drain line before the trap, however, then logically your clog is somewhere farther down the line.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby Kraftster on Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:35 pm

OK, that's useful information.

And I agree with your assessment. Since the sink ties in past the drum trap, I'm thinking I've got an issue past the drum trap. I'm sure it could use cleaning, but ultimately, I'll probably need to snake the line.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby PensFanInDC on Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:37 pm

Kraftster wrote:
PensFanInDC wrote:
Kraftster wrote:
PensFanInDC wrote:Drum traps suck. If you can afford it, get a second opinion and replace it if it's in your budget.


How involved a project is it? Not that I would consider doing it myself, but I would just like some idea of what a reasonable quote might be.

If I'm going to try to clean it myself and perhaps snake while I'm in there, are there any major things that I need to keep in mind/watch out for?


I would need to see the setup. Is there an access panel to the trap? Is it a PVC trap or is it steel? Would tile need to be cut? How much drywall would need to be cut and replaced?

Snaking through a drum trap is tough. The snake would have to go in and then somehow maneuver down and make it through the waste hole. That's a tall task.

If you have PVC drain pipes (I dont know how old your home is) then just be careful of damaging any of the pipe especially where fittings are glued together. PVC pipe and fittings are tough to break or damage so you should be fine. If you have an old home and there are steel drain pipes....don't do anything. Call a contractor.


OK. That is all helpful.

There is an access panel. It places me directly behind the tub. The drum trap is steel and the pipes are steel. The drum trap has a rubber cap on it, so it seems the original cover was cut off at some point.

It really is very easy to get to the trap, but the pipes are definitely all steel.

Easy access, all steel pipes, no drywall. Think I can find better than $1k?


In my area? No. In Pittsburgh? Maybe...

Steel pipes mean cutting, threading, and re-installing some drain pipe. That's labor intensive. If they have to cut out the pipe, which is a possibility if it's so old that it can't be unscrewed or it was welded on, then it's going to take several hours to do. Average $135 an hour for labor, $225 for parts + the mark-up, yeah...$1,000 is probably close to the best you'll get. Still, get a second or third opinion.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby IamtheWaris on Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:05 am

I recently installed a new showerhead and when I change the stream on it the water shuts off almost completely. Every morning I want to change the stream but am afraid of it shutting off again. Any ideas plumb nation?
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby meow on Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:42 am

IamtheWaris wrote:I recently installed a new showerhead and when I change the stream on it the water shuts off almost completely. Every morning I want to change the stream but am afraid of it shutting off again. Any ideas plumb nation?

Take it back
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby cheesesteakwithegg on Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:36 am

The faucet in our bathroom sink drips. My buddy told me that often time the washers go bad in the flex lines, which causes it to drip due to more pressure flowing up to the faucet. I replaced the flex lines, and it is still dripping, so I assume that I gotta replace the unit itself. I am confident in terms of mounting the new faucet on the bowl and hooking up the water lines, I am just a little worried about the drain. As a total novice, would the drain be difficult to hook up to the new unit?
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby meow on Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:39 am

cheesesteakwithegg wrote:The faucet in our bathroom sink drips. My buddy told me that often time the washers go bad in the flex lines, which causes it to drip due to more pressure flowing up to the faucet. I replaced the flex lines, and it is still dripping, so I assume that I gotta replace the unit itself. I am confident in terms of mounting the new faucet on the bowl and hooking up the water lines, I am just a little worried about the drain. As a total novice, would the drain be difficult to hook up to the new unit?

No more difficult then any other aspect of replacing the drain. Once you screw all the drain pieces together, slap some silicone plumbing sealant around the connections and you should be good to go.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby PensFanInDC on Fri Nov 22, 2013 10:59 am

Most faucets have O-rings that wear out and can be replaced. The lines have nothing to do with water coming out of the faucet.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby cheesesteakwithegg on Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:14 am

PensFanInDC wrote:Most faucets have O-rings that wear out and can be replaced. The lines have nothing to do with water coming out of the faucet.


I thought about that, but I have no idea how to tear my current faucet apart to replace it.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby meow on Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:17 am

cheesesteakwithegg wrote:
PensFanInDC wrote:Most faucets have O-rings that wear out and can be replaced. The lines have nothing to do with water coming out of the faucet.


I thought about that, but I have no idea how to tear my current faucet apart to replace it.

Most have a simple allen key located on the handle - often under the red and blue/black caps to indicate water temperature.
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Re: Any plumbers on board?

Postby PensFanInDC on Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:28 am

Its intricate work and can be messed up easily. New cartridges, if your faucet has a replaceable one (most do), are usually around $30 and are easier to install than repair.
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