(206) 949-5683, Top Rated Plumber, Seattle
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 21

Thread: Drain Line (Snake) Advice

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member prestonv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    san diego
    Posts
    5

    Default Drain Line (Snake) Advice

    Hi:

    I have a 4" (inside diameter) cast iron drain pipe that is clogged (very slow to drain). I tried cleaning it with 20' of 1/2" cable ... no success. I estimate the clog is about 50' down the drain (I let the pipe drain for 24 hours, then filled it up quickly and measured the volume of water and pipe to estimate where the clog is).

    I went to my local tool rental shop and the only thing they have is a heavy duty drain cleaner with 100' of 3/4" cable. The guy said 3/4" cable is good for pipes between 3" and 6".

    Is 3/4" cable too big for a 4" pipe?

    Another problem is that the closest I can get the machine to clean-out point is about 5'. I know it is best to get as close as possible. Is 5' too dangerous?

    Thanks for any advice.

    Preston

  2. #2
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    7,463

    Default

    3/4" cable is good for 4" pipe.

    5' of uncontrolled cable is dangerous.

    I'd consider the safe approach and hire a pro.

  3. #3
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,605

    Default snake

    I would, and do, only use a 3/4" cable for 3" and 4" pipes. 3' of cable can be dangerous if it gets caught in a serious clog. If you have 5' between the machine and the cleanout, you MUST be very experienced using the machine to be able to tell when it is getting close to the danger point. Otherwise the cable will "fly" out of the drum twisting as it goes and will wind YOU and anything else into a ball. There was a news report of someone it happened to. The snake wound his shirt so tight he perished. The other thing, is if you damage the snake, you will probably get a very large bill for repairing or replacing it, and I have had plumbers who should know how to manage a snake destroy a brand new snake before it was even used once.
    Last edited by hj; 12-04-2009 at 06:12 AM.

  4. #4
    DIY Junior Member prestonv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    san diego
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Thanks for the advice. My problem is that I've lost my job and money is tight. My local rooter company wants $300 ... the rental will be $28 for a couple of hours.

    Based on your comments, I will remove my toilet and go in through the toilet. This will keep the distance between the machine and drain to about 2' ... and will proceed carefully.

    Thanks for the confirmation that 3/4" is not too much for a 4" drain pipe.

    Preston

  5. #5
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    7,463

    Default

    You could also consider trying a company that doesn't have rooter in their name...

    They tend to be more reasonably priced...

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member prestonv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    san diego
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Redwood View Post
    You could also consider trying a company that doesn't have rooter in their name...

    They tend to be more reasonably priced...
    Thanks. I'll give it a try.

    Preston

  7. #7
    DIY Junior Member prestonv's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    san diego
    Posts
    5

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Redwood View Post
    You could also consider trying a company that doesn't have rooter in their name...

    They tend to be more reasonably priced...
    Redwood:

    Thanks again ... I found someone that will do it for $145 (no Rooter in the name). My only concern is that he says he will use a 1/2" snake. Is that big enough for a 4" inside diameter cast iron drain pipe (snake up to 70')?

    Can you confirm?

    Thanks,

    Preston

  8. #8
    Plumber krow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Ontario, Canada
    Posts
    906

    Default

    1/2" cable will work just as good, as long as the cutter on the end of the snake is big enough

  9. #9
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Yakima WA
    Posts
    7,246

    Default

    It's his problem to clear the drain with whatever snake he has. If he can't, you don't pay. I think one of the problems DIY snakes have is the length. But, regardless of the size of the snake, they are disaster waiting to happen for the novice. I appreciate the fact the money is tight, but can you afford the loss of a couple of fingers, a broken arm, or other such accidents? There are many cases of just such things happening to homeowners attempting to operate these power augers. Sometimes we get taken to task by folks who want DIY help on every project they want to undertake and instead are advised to call in the professionals, but I think of it like this. If you have a wood sliver in your finger, you can probably deal with that at home. But if you somehow have a finger that is mostly severed, you seek professional help. Same with any DIY project. The wise DIYer knows when his ablility level has been reached and it's time to reach for the phone.

  10. #10
    DIY Junior Member jason_72_98043's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    WA
    Posts
    2

    Default

    its not the drain cleaners problem,,its not his line thats clogged now is it??
    what if its a collapsed line? roots?? still the drain cleaners problem?

    also like others have stated some tasks are better left to those who deal with it on a daily basis

  11. #11
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Yakima WA
    Posts
    7,246

    Default

    It's his problem if he doesn't have the horse to pull the plow and takes the job anyway. What will Mr. DIYer do when he hits those roots and the snake coils around his arm? My point is as you restated it in your answer, some jobs are best left to the pros.

  12. #12
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,605

    Default snake

    When a 1/2" snake encounters a heavy root mass, it WILL tangle, either in the pipe or around your arm or hand. IF you go through the toilet, be prepared to pay extra for the rental, because it could take you two hours just to get the snake to turn downward at the fitting under the wall. USUALLY it will decide to turn upward and after you put about 15' of snake into the pipe go outside and see if it is sticking out of the roof and banging around on your shingles.

  13. #13
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Connecticut
    Posts
    7,463

    Default

    I use an 11/16 lined cable myself...
    I wouldn't use a 1/2" cable on an underground line.

  14. #14
    Master plumber Jay Mpls's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Minneapolis
    Posts
    98

    Default

    If they can get a blade that *restores* the 4" diameter of your pipe you will be fine.
    I have no faith in 1/2" cable for such a job....IF it is roots.
    If you have a low spot in your line then the 1/2 will pass with a good set of blades on the end.
    Bottom line.Call another small/local sewer cleaning co. Ask for a quote on the phone.
    An honest co. will happily tell you what they charge.
    11/16 or 3/4 cable is best.
    Remember it is all a vehicle for the correct blades.
    Last edited by Jay Mpls; 12-18-2009 at 09:35 PM. Reason: Too merry.

  15. #15
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Posts
    25,605

    Default costs

    I tell people what my "rate" is but can not, and will not, EVER try to tell them how long it will take or what the total bill will be until I am done, over the phone or when I at the jobsite.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •