Let's Talk Plumbing – or – What Grinds my Gears!

Dan

Dan

Senior Audioholic
I'm extremely lucky to have a plumber for a brother in law and it has saved me a bundle.

I'm very much a DIY guy, but plumbing of a certain level isn't something I mess with. Drains are fine, and so is anything close to that, but when it comes to the actual water lines, nope. Not risking it.

It's a bit weird that he's also a RIchard...

I got this shirt for when he comes over.

As Swerd's brother I NEED that T-shirt.

We grew up in the same house with the same old man and I learned how to snake a drain as a kid. I also have a 25 ft Amazon snake for maybe fifteen years. First wife and daughter with long hair. Rich you could have borrowed my snake and saved 25 smackers.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Warlord
Agree. Plumber coming today and looking at auto purge valves. Adjuster said he has been to 10 of these in our area. Those 40 below nights got us.
You live in upstate NY, right? I'm in Maryland where the winters are much milder.

I've never heard of auto purge valves before. I did replace one outdoor spigot with a spigot that has a long shaft. The valve itself reaches 18" into the house, where it should be protected from freezing. I still shut it off & drain it before the first frost.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Warlord
As Swerd's brother I NEED that T-shirt.

We grew up in the same house with the same old man and I learned how to snake a drain as a kid. I also have a 25 ft Amazon snake for maybe fifteen years. First wife and daughter with long hair. Rich you could have borrowed my snake and saved 25 smackers.
In my defense, the t-shirt refers to that plumber guy from This Old House, named Richard. See his video.

Also, that house we grew up in was newer when I grew up. The drains all worked. I don't remember the old man shelling out for a drain snake.
 
adk highlander

adk highlander

pessimistic optimist
You live in upstate NY, right? I'm in Maryland where the winters are much milder.

I've never heard of auto purge valves before. I did replace one outdoor spigot with a spigot that has a long shaft. The valve itself reaches 18" into the house, where it should be protected from freezing. I still shut it off & drain it before the first frost.
Yup. This one was 18" I think. The auto purge uses vacuum. He is not big on them because they leak so we are going to add a valve internally to shut off as an extra precaution and make sure they are angled correctly to drain. out.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Warlord
Yup. This one was 18" I think. The auto purge uses vacuum. He is not big on them because they leak so we are going to add a valve internally to shut off as an extra precaution and make sure they are angled correctly to drain out.
I thought it was standard code to have an indoor shut off valve somewhere upstream from any outdoor spigot. That was the case in Connecticut and Maryland, where all places I've lived had them. I went to college in the south. All new construction had that, but older places didn't.
 
jinjuku

jinjuku

Moderator
My bathroom sink is on the second floor. I'd have to run a garden hose from outside at ground level. Do you have an adapter to let you attach a garden hose to an indoor sink or shower faucet?
Nah, I just have an external connection on opposites sides of the house and a 100' foot garden hose.
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic Ninja
Thankfully most of my buds are in the trades, plumbers, electricians, Gen Contractors, etc.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Spartan
As Swerd's brother I NEED that T-shirt.

We grew up in the same house with the same old man and I learned how to snake a drain as a kid. I also have a 25 ft Amazon snake for maybe fifteen years. First wife and daughter with long hair. Rich you could have borrowed my snake and saved 25 smackers.
Awesome. You can get them just about anywhere.

It really comes in handy. My nephew is also named Richard. So is my father in law. So is my grandpa.
 
mtrycrafts

mtrycrafts

Seriously, I have no life.
Not a bad idea. I have a bunch of these which are thin enough to go down the drain without removing the popup plug.
They weren't up to the big gunge wad I had.
I wanted to take a biopsy slice of that wad and send it out for analysis. It looked like it could be of alien origin.
Now you tell me.
Well, I cannot see past intents by far away friends :D .

Removing the pop-up, make sure you reinstall the lever and nut, gives you room to push or pull that gunk all around the upper pipe.
That plastic device may be good to pull hair up but not sure how well would it push that gunk, perhaps just pocking holes and moving it back up and down.
You would need some flat area horizontal to give you a solid surface at the tip to push with.
 
mtrycrafts

mtrycrafts

Seriously, I have no life.
Here you go @Swerd for next time and if you buy or gifted a Christmas wreath, it is free.
I cut part of the over the door hook on a wreath.
IMG-0346 (2).JPG
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Warlord
Also, next time use some used carpet pieces placed in the cabinet and edge and on floor, or several floor mats. Even a bunch of towels will do.;) Hard on the body.
This morning my wife said "Why didn't you use my yoga mat?" Its 1" thick and would have been perfect for a tile floor. Another great idea – a day late.
 
cpp

cpp

Audioholic Samurai
When it comes to tub drains, I just call a plumber, Not going to take a chance of screwing up my tub.The hard water we have, I'll let the pro's sweat it out. LOL
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
An old tradition on the AudioHolics Steam Vent, are occasional threads where someone just vents on life’s frustrations. We used to call these threads “What Grinds My Gears”. It’s been a few years since I saw one of these. This one is about my fun time being a DIY plumber.

My main purpose here is to crow about how I finally succeeding in clearing a blocked drain. This was a bathroom sink – my bathroom sink – not my wife’s – her sink is about 4 feet to the left of mine. She has plenty of hair. I don’t. That rules out a hair clog.

My house was built in 1993, that sink and drain pipe is nearly 29 years old. It’s never been completely blocked, but over the years it did drain slower & slower. I finally decided I had to clear that sink drain. I’m a dedicated DIYer, especially when it’s a job that looks like it can’t be that difficult ;). I’ve repaired toilet flush & refill valves, replaced shower, bathroom & kitchen sink faucets before. If I needed to install or join water supply or drain pipes, or natural gas pipes, I’d call a plumber. But clearing a clogged drain seemed easy enough. I’ve cleared my wife’s hair out of the shower stall drain, easy with one of these, but I’ve never had to clear a more serious drain clog before.

So I bought a snake (called a drum auger on Amazon) with a 25’ cable. It was made in China, came without any directions, and its red case had raised print in Chinese, no English at all. I even spent a few minutes on YouTube to see how you use these spooky looking things.

In a moment of self-doubt, I also bought a large jug of Liquid Drano. It contains a lot of sodium hydroxide (NaOH), a nasty caustic compound. In theory, NaOH works well at dissolving clogs made of organic debris, by a chemical process called alkaline hydrolysis. My first effort at clearing the clog involved using that stuff twice, thinking I could avoid the trouble of removing the U trap under the sink. It didn’t help. In fact, I think it made the drain clog worse. Before the Drano, the sink drained slowly. After two treatments, it hardly drained at all.

Lesson #1 – Avoid using Liquid Drano. Just don’t bother.

The first thing I did on Friday, was clear out all the stuff in the cabinet under the sink that I’d accumulated over the years. Quite a lot of it was junk.

Next I started removing the U trap under the sink. That U trap hadn’t been removed in 29 years, so it took a lot of effort to start those big plastic rings turning. I’m about 2½ times older than that sink. With my somewhat arthritic hands, it was hard getting those SOBs to budge, even if I was comfortably standing up. But I was lying on a hard tile floor, reaching under a sink into a bathroom vanity cabinet. I eventually did get it off, without destroying it, but with a lot of pain & cursing. At my age, even getting down on the floor or up from it is plenty hard. I probably had to do that somewhere between 15 and 20 times before I was done on Friday.

Plumbers are young, they have much stronger hands than I have, and they’ve done all these simple jobs before. They probably have better tools that I do too.

(Continued …)
If you had a real U-trap, replace it with a J-trap, which is now the part needed per code. Use plastic- ABS or PVC, it will allow many substances to slide past and DrainO won't damage the plastic.

What do you use when you shave, to soften your beard? That, and bar soap are the two things I would expect to clog drains. I use Edge or a generic equivalent (NOT the WalMart stuff called 'Equate') and all of the soap I use is liquid.

I had a leaky kitchen drain and when I tried to loosen the trap to allow me to drop the section above it, the thin, chrome-plated brass POS fell apart. I kept going and when I needed to move a supply pipe slightly, it started to leak. Then, when I tried to loosen the collar on the cast iron three-way Y fitting, the close nipple connecting it to the elbow in the wall fell apart and I had to be creative in order to remove what was left of it. I fixed the supply pipe leak, then headed to Home Depot for some parts and when I asked if they had a three-way fitting in cast iron, the guy looked at me like I had three heads. I was about to leave when an older employee came along, so I asked him and he know what I needed, but said they didn't have it. I asked if he thought a particular plumbing parts seller might have it and he said they would. I decided that $85 was a bit pricey, so I went back to HD and looked around- I bought everything I needed in PVC, for less than $9.

I figured, by the time I was done with that project, I would look up and find myself at the street in front of my house.
 
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Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Warlord
If you had a real U-trap, replace it with a J-trap, which is now the part needed per code. Use plastic- ABS or PVC, it will allow many substances to slide past and DrainO won't damage the plastic.
I used the term U-trap only in the generic sense that I had learned decades ago. What I now have are PVC P-traps, as shown on the right side of the diagram below. My house was built to code in 1993. All the drain pipes are PVC and all the supply pipes are ¾" copper. (I'm not sure what the difference is between a P-trap and a J-trap.)
1655223373669.png

What do you use when you shave, to soften your beard? That, and bar soap are the two things I would expect to clog drains. I use Edge or a generic equivalent (NOT the WalMart stuff called 'Equate') and all of the soap I use is liquid.
I do realize that soap, as in bar soap, and hard water (high in lime salts: calcium and magnesium carbonates) are the source of soap-calcium deposits. But the problem I described was the first time after 29 years of use. That's not enough to warrant changing preferences from soap to artificial detergents. Most non-artificial soaps are now made from vegetable sources, such as palm oil. In the past, soap was made from animal fat, which was a worse source of deposits with hard water.
 
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mtrycrafts

mtrycrafts

Seriously, I have no life.
I think he might have meant S-trap which is not legal as best I know, the trap water can run out and allow methane into the house.
Still working on that distant sight into the mind. :D
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
I used the term U-trap only in the generic sense that I had learned decades ago. What I now have are PVC P-traps, as shown on the right side of the diagram below. My house was built to code in 1993. All the drain pipes are PVC and all the supply pipes are ¾" copper. (I'm not sure what the difference is between a P-trap and a J-trap.)
View attachment 56532
I do realize that soap, as in bar soap, and hard water (high in lime salts: calcium and magnesium carbonates) are the source of soap-calcium deposits. But the problem I described was the first time after 29 years of use. That's not enough to warrant changing preferences from soap to artificial detergents. Most non-artificial soaps are now made from vegetable sources, such as palm oil. In the past, soap was made from animal fat, which was a worse source of deposits with hard water.
J and P are basically the same, just different orientation (P trap is rotated 90 degrees, so the long section is horizontal)- not sure why your graphic shows what looks like a joint in three places, but the traps I see don't have one where the long vertical section transitions to the curve.

I think the use of Lye came about because animal fat was used for making soap- if it worked for making it, it might as well be used to dissolve it when it clogs a sink, right?

I became tired of removing soap scum a long time ago and some were far worse than others.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Slumlord
I think he might have meant S-trap which is not legal as best I know, the trap water can run out and allow methane into the house.
Still working on that distant sight into the mind. :D
 

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