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O.T. dumb plumbing question...

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  • O.T. dumb plumbing question...

    All I know about plumbing is how frustrating it usually is for me.

    My Wife's sink drains slowly, it has a drum trap on it and I have cleaned it and re-installed it and it worked pretty okay...but now it's back to slow.

    My question isn't so much "what can I do?", but more "how come I've never heard anyone talk about using compressed air to force a clogged/slow drain?"

    Terrible idea? I'm sure there's a limit to the amount of pressure that would be advisable, but if it were controlled properly, why can't I pop an inverted funnel over the drain and "persuade" the clog?

    All input is appreciated.


  • #2
    well, they do but perhaps not in the way you are thinking.

    It is, compression, what a plunger can do provided you can get it to seal (and also, of course, assuming you are trying to push the clog/stoppage further along the line).

    There is a product out there, just can't recall or find the name right now, that is sort of the same idea, its a can thing that I assume has compressed air inside (I've never used it)

    the first issue is likely to be how you can seal the "connection",
    the second thing is how do you give the force some "impact", I am not certain a steady stream of air even of increasing pressure would do it...whereas a sudden "shock" may,
    third, as you mention, is how much is too much?

    Edit to add: if it worked and worked well, I am guessing professional plumbers would have adopted that course of action a long time ago...


    • #3
      Therere have been many inventions using air or water to force the clogs out.
      Some use the sinks own faucet for the source

      There are three reasons why they may not work.
      One, the sink you mention will have a vent for draining water from the bowl. you have to stop this up when using pressure. In fact , this vent may be plugged, causing the slow water flow. try blowing it out , but watch the nasty stuff blowing up in your face from the drain !

      Second, the pipe fittings, particularly ABS or PVC may not be strong enough for pressure and either leak or worse, rupture with the resultant mess.

      Third, if you get the plug out of the horizontal drain pipe, you will succeed in pushing it into the vertical drain area, where a roof vented pipe should be attached. That means all your pressure is harmlessly vented upward , leaving the plug in a less accessable spot.



      • #4
        Don't use air pressure. There is a foam type drain cleaner that works fairly well. You may have to get a plumber to chemically clean your drains, all of them. He may have to run a snake through the lines.
        It's only ink and paper


        • #5

          Rich + 1

          The connections may not be as strong as water pipe. the sewer pipe isn't normaly very strong either.

          The newer water conservation toilets in our house are a problem. I notice that it usually only takes 1 push to clear them, my thought is that they don't provide enough water to float the waste properly so you get stoppages on occasion.

          If you were able to get 100 pounds on the plunger handle would this amount to more than 60 PSI on a 1.5 inch drain pipe?



          • #6
            I just bring the nozzle end of the garden hose into the house and blast out the sink drain with it. Does a good job of clearing out the gunk that builds up in the overflow passage as well.

            Dave Cameron


            • #7
              I watched a pair of clowns clear a drain with a pressure blast once. One guy, the older of the two, get his assistant to block one drain while he 'shoots' the other one. Just before he pulls the trigger, he says 'now make sure you're holding that' - well, next thing you know, the young guy has drain crap splattered all over him and is the only one not laughing.

              Clearing drains- not a clean operation, but it's usually best to remove the traps and manually clear them out. A lot of times a big blob of hair will be caught up on something and will resist being 'blown through'.
              I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-


              • #8
                In my house when I notice a drain starting to slow, I just run the hot water for awhile and it clears right up.

                I take care of a bunch of rental houses and have seen whats in plugged pipes more than a few times. It is normally slime.

                Crank your water heater up for a few hours then one at a time run your faucets on hot only for a good 3-5 minutes each and report back.


                • #9
                  The best thing I've found for clearing drains using pressure is a bladder that fills with water, expands in the pipe and uses the domestic water pressure to force clogs out of the line.

                  Consider this, perhaps your slow drain problem isn't actually a clogged or restricted drain line. More than one drain has become "slow" because the associated vent gets clogged or restricted. Sometimes the vent line ties in where the drain line makes a bend causing a clog to be forced into the vent line. Other times an animal or insects will clog a vent line after they access it from the roof.

                  I suggest checking the vent line and if that doesn't solve the problem try the bladder device available at home improvement stores, HF and many other places. I'd stay away from harsh chemicals, particularly if your lines are older cast or ductile iron. Strong chemicals, repeatedly used, will eventually eat their way through the line itself requiring a much more expensive line replacement.


                  • #10
                    We had a slow drain and saw one of these (like it anyways) at Homedepot:


                    Ran that down the drain (ours is about 3' long) and you wouldn't believe the nastyness that came out.

                    Drain works great now.


                    • #11
                      "My wife's drain".

                      After you unclog it, once again, you may want to observe how she uses that sink. Obviously a lot is going down it that shouldn't.

                      Walk with care here.
                      Paul A.

                      Make it fit.
                      You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!


                      • #12
                        Pouring greasy things in the kitchen sink is a guarantee to a stoppage. As the cold water hits the grease it solidifies on the bottom of the pipe and builds up from there.
                        It's only ink and paper


                        • #13
                          Just fixed this problem at my house.

                          Went under the house and removed the cleanout cap for the 2 1/2" horizontal waste line from the sink. It was about 2/3 full of wet sludge. Put a spray nozzle on my garden hose, set for a spray, turned water off and shoved it down the line until it reached the 4" main line (about 30 feet). Turned the water on full and slowly pulled the hose out. Repeated twice. Sludge is nearly all gone, line now flows properly. Had to do the same thing with the line from the laundry room.

                          BTW - The reason compressed air won't work is because if the pipe isn't completely clogged, the air will just pass through the open areas.

                          Last edited by SteveF; 05-08-2012, 12:17 PM.


                          • #14
                            Does your wife have long hair? Does she brush it over the sink? My two daughters have long hair and I'm constantly cleaning out their sink drains with the tool that hitnmiss recommended.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Carld
                              Pouring greasy things in the kitchen sink is a guarantee to a stoppage. As the cold water hits the grease it solidifies on the bottom of the pipe and builds up from there.
                              Even worse is grease and hair. Forms a composite material, kinda like reinforced concrete. The grease holds the hair in the pipe and the hair collects more grease. Often a half can of drain cleaner is needed. And then repeat the treatment.
                              Paul A.

                              Make it fit.
                              You can't win and there is a penalty for trying!