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Thread: Branch Pipe of Cast Iron Waste Pipe COMPLETELY clogged! HELP!!

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    DIY Junior Member vintshave's Avatar
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    Default Branch Pipe of Cast Iron Waste Pipe COMPLETELY clogged! HELP!!

    Hi!

    This is a problem that seems so simple yet it's turning out to be SO hard to fix!

    I pasted a picture below of the problem area. See that copper pipe on top of the small cast iron waste pipe? Well it fills with water and it is COMPLETELY blocking the sink above it. TO further research the problem, I removed the large bolted on iron "U" that you see to the right which exposes the large vertical pipe. It is completely clear. So the problem is in that 3 feet or so of cast iron pipe that feeds into the large pipe. So I could get at the area better, I removed the copper pipe from the top.

    The clog is DEFINITELY in that "feeder" pipe. I'm betting it's organic. I have a hand snake, but that just pulls up small amounts of gook and makes no real progress. If I stick a rod down the pipe, I hit something very hard which is probably the iron bend near the bottom.

    All I want to do is STOP messing around with this plumbing! What is the best way for me to clear that clog? Is there some highly nasty chemical that eats everything but iron I could pour in there? It's VERY frustrating to know where the clog is but no be able to clear it.

    Any advice would be gratefully received.

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Do not use chemicals. They won't clear the clog, but will create a serious hazard for the plumber you should call. This is not a DIY job. It will require a professional with professional tools and knowledge on using those tools. Do not even consider renting a large auger. These are extremely dangerous in the hands of an untrained person. Find a "real" plumber who does not have "Rooter" as part of his business name. This is a time to bite the bullet and pay the man.

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    DIY Junior Member vintshave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Swart View Post
    Do not use chemicals. They won't clear the clog, but will create a serious hazard for the plumber you should call. This is not a DIY job. It will require a professional with professional tools and knowledge on using those tools. Do not even consider renting a large auger. These are extremely dangerous in the hands of an untrained person. Find a "real" plumber who does not have "Rooter" as part of his business name. This is a time to bite the bullet and pay the man.
    Since my last posting, I narrowed down the clog to EXACTLY where it is - the small area just where the small pipe meets the large one. While I would LOVE to turn this job over to someone else, my guess is that they would not accept the $50 I could afford to pay them to do the work. Not to belittle the pros (I have the greatest respect for professional tradesmen), how hard could it be to solve this problem? I know exactly where the clog is. There are a couple of things I don't know:

    • What the clog is made of
    • What tool I need to use to remove it


    I was thinking that a good approach would be using the hole in the pipe made by unbolting the trap. The problem here is that I don't know what kind of tool can go down 6 inches and then up at a 45 degree angle to work the clog from the bottom. A coat hangar will not exert enough force on the clog to do much good. Having something with a rotating head would be nice.

    I get your point about the power auger, but the biggest "hazard" I see here is the expense of my time and extreme frustration. Unfortunately, I have quite a bit of those and not so much cash ;-)

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    Plumbing Contractor for 49 years johnjh2o1's Avatar
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    (Quote how hard could it be to solve this problem? I know exactly where the clog is. There are a couple of things I don't know)

    Your about to find out. When you try to remove the saddle fitting and get into trouble and loose the use of the rest of your plumbing. But it's your house do as you please.

    John
    Last edited by johnjh2o1; 06-23-2012 at 09:37 AM.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Any time you see a saddle fitting in a drain system you KNOW it was done by a handyman/homeowner and that usually means there are other "shortcuts" somewhere. Cast iron CAN create a "corrosion" blockage which is almost impossible to remove.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    Advice given here is free and you are free to take it or leave it. If fear that you are opening a big can of worms here and may very well be forced to hire a professional before the job is completed.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you need to replace the bits with say pvc, depending on what tools you have, you'll likely spend more than that $50 you have available!

    The CI pipe's clog could be something like soap scum, grease, or it could be mostly rust. If it is rust, it will be very hard to get out, and in the process, you may find there's very little of the original pipe left (since it is what turned to rust!).
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member vintshave's Avatar
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    I appreciate the sentiment. The various problems of having an old house in Philadelphia are REALLY stressing me out. I just had to replace my roof for $27,000.

    I ended up solving the problem thanks to a particularly helpful person at Lowes (a rarity). His advice was to cut off the pipe about 3/4 of the way down to have a straighter shot at the clogged area and replace it with PVC once the clog was removed. Not a very difficult solution. He also advised me to get a sewer snake with a pointed cutting head (looks like a plumb bob). Well, to make a long story short, I banged at it with the sewer snake for a few minutes are heard the sweet sound of draining water. I appreciate the caution you guys expressed here...it caused me to approach the problem with a bit more care than I would have ordinarily.

    Now I just have to scrape out and replace the rubber seal on the saddle fitting, which did not come cleanly off the pipe. Question: Do I NEED the saddle fitting at all or can I just strap sheet rubber around the hole? I can't imagine what it's there for anyway.

  9. #9
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    IT is there because someone connected a sink some time in the past. HOW will you "press" the rubber against the pipe without the saddle or something pushing against it. You do realize that the sewer "point" ONLY made an opening the size of it in the pipe, NOT the full size of the drain, and given the size snake you used it was probably a very small point.
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

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    DIY Junior Member vintshave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj View Post
    IT is there because someone connected a sink some time in the past. HOW will you "press" the rubber against the pipe without the saddle or something pushing against it. You do realize that the sewer "point" ONLY made an opening the size of it in the pipe, NOT the full size of the drain, and given the size snake you used it was probably a very small point.
    You are quite possibly right about the size of the hole, although I did ream it in and out pretty well. I fully realize that the problem may recurr. If it ends up being a huge pain, I will probably replace the middle section with PVC or at least cut that branch line and REALLY clean out the hole with a straight shot at it and then replace the cut part with PVC.

    Since I have left the iron in place, I scraped off the old rubber gasket and created a new one with sheet rubber gasket material. I then surrounded the whole works with a goodly amount of silicone. I doubt that ANY of this is from the official plumbers playbook (if one exists). However, I am now on to some of my other annoying projects...car brakes, motorcycle iginition, etc.

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