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DaringDamsel 07-06-2009 11:44 AM

Can't clear galvanized pipe drain. Replace?
The drain in question is a vertical galvanized pipe, which drains into a horizontal galvanized pipe, and then into a cast iron stack. (Or so I believe. The drains are dull gray in color. The stack is black.)

I have worked for many hours with a snake to clear the drain for my bathroom sink. This drain was not used for a LONG time. Now, I am replacing the sink. (Thanks to this board, I was FINALLY able to figure out what I needed to do to hook up the drain properly.)

I have made progress with the snake. I think mostly the snake helped me to crumble the blockage. Most of the debris was removed by siphoning it out, using an old piece of hose. I know it is metal, because I tested it with a magnet. I have a new appreciation of those jailbreak movies, where a fellow digs himself out of jail with a teaspoon.

When I finally took a break, and read about galvanized pipe in a plumbing book, I read that it needs to be replaced after 50 years. My house was built in 1942, assuming that the plumbing was in place when the house was built, that means it is 65+ years old.
Anyway, should I just give up at this point, and replace the drain? How much longer might my pipes last? I am guessing that the pipes have outlived their expected lifetime, due to my water supply. Much of it is from snow melt and is extremely soft.

I think I am within six inches of the T to the larger drain. I know the horizontal drain is clear, because the sink is between the bathtub and toilet, and these fixtures drain okay.Now, I am having difficulty, because my short piece of hose just isn't as effective any more. It is not long enough to reach the floor, and so my maximum head is only six inches. I do not have another hose that will work. It is an old washing machine supply hose with one female connector. The other connector was cut off to fit it into the drain.

Anyway, should I just give up at this point, and replace the drain? Or do as my friend says, and call for a "roto-rooter?" How much longer might my pipes last? I am guessing that the pipes have outlived their expected lifetime due to my water supply. Much of it is from snow melt and is extremely soft.

( I know that I have invested WAY too much effort in removing this blockage. That is because my friend wanted me to call a professional to clear the pipe. So I thought that I had something to "prove." :p)

Meanwhile, I will look through my odds and ends of garden hose bits. Perhaps I will find one with a male connector and I can lengthen my siphon hose.:rolleyes:


Speedbump 07-06-2009 11:51 AM

I'm not plumber, but I do know they make mechanical drain snakes that rotate and basically cut their way through the blockage. Maybe renting one of these would do the job for you. Unless of coarse, your just plain going to make it work the hard way to prove that point. And there is nothing wrong with that plan either.

Redwood 07-06-2009 08:30 PM

This is a case where using the services of a pro may save you money...

DaringDamsel 07-06-2009 10:04 PM

But even if I hire someone, I want to know what I can expect the job to be. My one experience with a hired plumber was negative. And even if he gets the drain line cleared, I will want to know whether I should plan for a completely new bath.

The one time I hired a plumber, I knew what needed to be done. He needed to go into the crawlspace and rod the main drain line. The situation had happened several times, where these particular drains had backed up, and this was what had needed to be done previously.

Instead, he messed around trying to clear the toilet of the one unit. He needed to leave the job several times, to get other tools.

In this case, I just paid the bill, because I was acting as a board member of my condo, and it wasn't worth my while to question the bill. I had become president of our building board because the condo complex threatened to sue our previous president.

So I feel the need to be able to judge the opinion of the plumber.

Also, I will probably want to get my own permit for the sink installation before I call anyone. I don't like the idea of someone being able to threaten me with turning me in.


Redwood 07-07-2009 11:56 AM

Okay the fact that you say this is a condo may complicate matters some...
Check your association rules as well as the laws of your city/county/state regarding who may do this type of work and whether or not a license is required.

Quite often licenses are required as you plumbing skills can affect the health and property of others.

I agree that your description if accurate does not sound like a good plumber.
I would try another until you find one that meets your needs.

DaringDamsel 07-07-2009 03:02 PM

I am sorry if I was unclear. The condo incident was in the past. I now live in a single family home that I own.

Bit the incident makes me nervous about hiring workmen. I am on a disability income, and the cost of a plumber is high. I would like to know whether clearing the drain is a good use of my money, or will I need to replace the pipe soon anyway?

I have been living without the bathroom sink for awhile now. I wasn't even spending money for groceries, because I was afraid of a foreclosure on my house, due to a balloon coming due on my mortgage. But I have been able to refinance the house with a line of credit, so I can now afford some much needed repairs.

So do I spend $65+ on the permit for installing the sink, $70+ for someone to clear the drain line, and an unknown amount for the sink installation. Or do I start planning to install all new drains?

The finish on my bathtub is very old, and very stained. The surround is really bad, with a wooden double hung window in the middle, but that is entirely another topic.


handyguys 07-08-2009 09:01 AM

Damsel - You describe the pipe well. vertical, horizontal, connecting to cast iron, etc. How much of the pipe is visible and accessible? If it is a steel pipe and if the clog is due to deteriation of the pipe, and the pipes are easily replaced (Lots of ifs I know). Then I would just replace the pipe, probably with PVC.

yea a roto router guy could probably get it cleared for you too. Yea, you might be able to open it with one of those drill mounted auger things from the home center too. I'm not sure you will have success as you are going now.

Also, be prepared for replacing the pipes if you get more aggressive with trying to clear the clog. It could be possible to blow out the side of the pipe or bust a fitting or something. The plumber or roto router guy might tell you this before he even begins.

Good luck - post back when its clear, let us know how the problem was ultimately solved.

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