21 Jan

I apologize if this post looks familiar to some of you. I wrote it a few weeks ago but temporarily lost a significant amount of the post so I took it back down quickly until I could muster the energy to re-write the entire thing. Today it re-appeared so here it is again!

Well, pretty much no sooner had one drain problem been solved than a new one reared its ugly head. I had run out on some errands and Corinne stayed home to take a shower. When I returned she told me that there was about 6 inches of water in the tub by the time she was done… and it was still in there. We were heading out on our little New Year’s ski trip early the next morning, but I headed to out to get some supplies. I knew it was time for some major plumbing work; no chemicals or snakes this time. It was time to replace some aging steel drain pipes. These pipes have decades worth of hard slimy gunk that is very difficult to get off and, since they are mostly exposed in the basement it’s a relatively easy task to do.

20130115-152722.jpgThe first step was to cut off as much of the old pipe as possible. I had to cut in four places, at the drain from the bathroom sink, the tub, the sewer line, and a line that is either a vent or an old drain line from a previous kitchen sink location. I decided to rebuild it as it was since it was working and I didn’t want to upset a system that i couldn’t fully investigate without gutting some walls upstairs.

20130115-153208.jpgYou can kind of see the amount the drain line from the bathroom sink was gunked up if you look close. It’s really gross. Unfortunately without opening the wall in the bathroom I wasn’t able to replace the entire pipe from that drain so I had to cut it as I high as I could and clean out the remaining section of pipe that goes straight down in the wall behind the sink. This was a huge chore that involved hammers and long screwdrivers and angle iron to chisel out the hardened crud. It really is amazing that the drain worked at all with how much the diameter of the pipe was reduced by build-up. Once the pipe was cleaned out I was able to transition to PVC with a Fernco fitting, which is a rubber slip on fitting with two hose clamps. These were also used at sewer connection and the “mystery pipe”, the tub drain is fully exposed in the basement so there is nothing old there, I replaced the P trap for good measure.


This is the new, much prettier, drain installation. All the fittings are “welded” with PVC solvent (that’s why you see some purple at the joints). I also tried to increase the pitch a little bit by raising the P trap on the tub because it was a very shallow pitch from the tub and not very steep from the sink either so hopefully that should eliminate any slow or standing water.
The little screw cap you see is a clean-out, which can be removed easily if any clogs arise, or just for periodic inspection. The old clean out plug was so tight that even my entire weight hanging on a wrench wouldn’t budge it. Both me and the plumber that had snaked the drain agreed that we’d probably break the pipe before loosening the plug. At some point I may want to open that wall under the sink in the bathroom and replace the entire drain with new PVC and confirm what the mystery pipe is, but for now our drains are running very nicely and are clean looking, inside and out.


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