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Plumbing: Unclogging Fixtures / Sinks and Tubs

Clogged or slow-draining sinks and tubs are more than a nuisance; they can put your entire bathroom or kitchen out of action and disrupt your family’s busy schedule. But as frustrating as they make life, most drain clogs can be quickly cleared, even by a novice, in 10 to 15 minutes.

The first step in clearing a clog is locating it. This task often takes some trial and error, but here are some clues. If only one fixture is clogged, the problem is either in the stopper mechanism, the P-trap or the drain leading away from the fixture. If a group of fixtures is affected, look for the clog downstream from where their drains join.

In bathrooms, by far the most common source of clogs is a wad of hair and soap scum wrapped around the stopper mechanism or, in a shower, lying just underneath the drain cover. Always check for this problem before resorting to taking drains apart for snaking. In kitchens, the most common causes are excess grease poured down the drain and overused garbage disposers—problems most easily solved by developing better waste-disposal habits.


HomeCenter.com: Save on Sinks!

Grease-Free Drains

Grease-Free Drains

Keep kitchen drains grease-free by pouring in a few spoonfuls of baking soda every few weeks. Then fill the sink with hot water, remove the plug and let it drain freely to flush debris. The best way to prevent clogs is to limit the amount of grease and other solids going down the drain in the first place.

Unclogging Sink Drains

Plunge the sink drain. Fill the sink with 2 in. (5 cm) of water. Completely cover the drain hole with the plunger bell. Cover over flow hole with a wet sponge to maintain pres sure. Make the first plunge slowly to expel air from bell; then plunge in and out vigorously 1 5 to 20 times. Add water as needed to keep the bell covered and air out.

Plunge the sink drain. Fill the sink with 2 in. (5 cm) of water. Completely cover the drain hole with the plunger bell. Cover over flow hole with a wet sponge to maintain pres sure. Make the first plunge slowly to expel air from bell; then plunge in and out vigorously 15 to 20 times. Add water as needed to keep the bell covered and air out.

Clear the P-trap. Place a bucket under the trap, loosen slip nuts using pipe wrench if necessary, remove the trap and clear the debris. Reassemble the trap.

Clear stoppers of hair and debris. For sinks with stoppers locked in place by a pivot rod, first remove all standing water from the sink. Unscrew the retaining nut on the back of the sink drain and remove the pivot rod from the stopper. Remove stopper and clear away clog. Reinstall stopper assembly and test drain to make sure retaining nut doesn’t leak

Clear stoppers of hair and debris. For sinks with stoppers locked in place by a pivot rod, first remove all standing water from the sink. Unscrew the retaining nut on the back of the sink drain and remove the pivot rod from the stopper. Remove stopper and clear away clog. Reinstall stopper assembly and test drain to make sure retaining nut doesn’t leak.

Snake the drain. Remove trap arm, slide spiral end of snake into drain and feed it all the way to the clog if possible. Don’t mistake an elbow in the drain pipe for the clog. Lock snake’s offset handle in place and crank snake clockwise while pushing it forward. Slide handle back and relock as necessary. Spiral end helps work snake around bends and break up clogs.

Snake the drain. Remove trap arm, slide spiral end of snake into drain and feed it all the way to the clog if possible. Don’t mistake an elbow in the drain pipe for the clog. Lock snake’s offset handle in place and crank snake clockwise while pushing it forward. Slide handle back and relock as necessary. Spiral end helps work snake around bends and break up clogs.

Unclogging Bathtub Drains

Unscrew overflow plate and remove it and the stopper mechanism from the bathtub drain. Some tub stoppers have two main parts -- a spring or weight in the vertical over flow drain and an arm attached to the stopper plug in the horizontal tub drain. Clean stopper parts, cover overflow hole and plunge drain. Reassemble stopper.

1. Unscrew overflow plate and remove it and the stopper mechanism from the bathtub drain. Some tub stoppers have two main parts -- a spring or weight in the vertical over flow drain and an arm attached to the stopper plug in the horizontal tub drain. Clean stopper parts, cover overflow hole and plunge drain. Reassemble stopper.

If clog remains, run the snake down the overflow hole to clear obstructions. If still unsuccessful, replace overflow plate and stop per mechanism, and remove P-trap through access hole or from below. Then run snake down the drain as you would a sink drain.

2. If clog remains, run the snake down the overflow hole to clear obstructions. If still unsuccessful, replace overflow plate and stop per mechanism, and remove P-trap through access hole or from below. Then run snake down the drain as you would a sink drain.

 

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Recommended Reading

Plumber's licensing Study Guide (Plumber's Licensing Study Guide)

Plumber's licensing Study Guide (Plumber's Licensing Study Guide)

Book Description

Use Today's Most Effective Study Tool to Pass the Plumber's Licensing Exam with Flying Colors!

Let a Master Plumber with more than 25 years of field and classroom experience show you how to ace the journeyman and master plumbing exams on the very first try!

Fully updated to reflect the 2006 International Plumbing Code, the Second Edition of R. Dodge Woodson's Plumber's Licensing Study Guide is a one-of-a-kind study tool that builds your skills, knowledge, and confidence with over 1500 multiple-choice and true/false questions with answers -- all based on material most likely to be on your exam.

This career-building resource explains every relevant code topic, presenting a wealth of study tips, calculations, conversion tables, and troubleshooting points. Packed with detailed illustrations, the revised Plumber's Licensing Study Guide features:

* 1500 multiple-choice and true/false questions with answers
* Over 300 visual references showing how to use illustrations found in your local codebook to answer exam questions
* Comprehensive coverage of all code topics
* Study tips, calculations, conversion tables, and troubleshooting pointers
* References updated to reflect the 2006 International Plumbing Code, as well as an increased number of study questions

Master All Material Covered on the Plumber's Licensing Exam:

* Abbreviations
* Code Definitions
* General Regulations
* Regulations, Permits, and Code Enforcement
* Fixtures
* Water Heaters
* Approved Materials
* Water Supply and Distribution
* Joints and Connections
* Vents and Venting
* Sanitary Drainage Systems
* Drainage Cleanout Requirements
* Supports and Hangers
* Traps, Interceptors, and Separators
* Storm Drainage
* Special Piping Systems
* Reference Standards
* Rainfall Rates
* Recycling Gray Water
* Mathematics
* Degree Days
* Trailer Parks
* Manufactured Homes and Parks
* Health Care Plumbing
* Testing and Inspecting
* Study Tips
* Troubleshooting
* Safety Pointers
* Facts, Figures, Calculations, and Conversions

Card catalog description
Study guide for both the journeyman and master plumbing exams; covers both the Uniform and International Plumbing Codes.

Topics include:

fixture water supply pipe, health care plumbing, several graphs about friction loss, heater sizing table, section lists standards, add one fixture, indirect waste pipe, many fixture units, inch drainage pipe, local code book, fixture being vented, heater setup, faucet seats, plumbing code, existing plumbing system, plumbing permit, following fixtures, food waste grinder, gray water system, waste receptors, water service pipe, trap for the fixture, bedpan washers, determine friction loss, code enforcement office

Reviews:

The book is very comprehensive and gives a very accurate picture of what to expect on your plumbing exam. It makes learning the code fun and you will find out what you don't know quickly. Use it in conjuction with your code book to look up areas you are weak in. If you can answer eighty % of the questions in the "Study Guide" correctly you will probably pass your test. It's the best book of its kind. FIVE STARS.

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Plumber's Exam Preparation Guide

Plumber's Exam Preparation Guide

Book Description

by Howard C. Massey "The general regulations in the plumbing code are intended as broad principles that apply to all plumbing work..."

Topics include:

illustrated complies, local plumbing official, relief yoke vent, gas piping shall, provision addressing types, medical gas piping system, indirect waste pipes, fire standpipe system, fixture unit load value, plumbing exam, vent intersection, special plumbing fixtures, wet vent pipe, nonflammable medical gases, piping passing, caulking ferrules, backf low, tubing shall, soldering bushings, standpipe receptor, fire standpipes, medical compressed air, projected roof area, building drainage system, minimum horizontal distance

Reviews:

Perchance to dream,

Like the other reviewers, I lie awake at night, wondering about Howard Massey. I envision him agonizing over rewriting classic sections such as his paen to brazing copper, perhaps clickity-clack typing on an old Underwood. Or perhaps he will have the courage to leave well enough alone, like the ancient aqeducts that still supply Rome, and his new edition will simply provide sections on items like radiant heat sub floors and on-demand water heaters. We can all only hope, and pray and wait patiently and continue to revel in the Master's work. And indeed, as noted, the existing tome is more than adequate to pass the exam. Don't tell this to my friend Umberto, however, for he failed despite Massey. But to me, Umberto's failure is that he lied to himself, he was not true to his own spirit, and , the numbskull didn't flux the interior of a "tee" before he sweated the joint. How can Howard Massey be responsible? I suppose it's also Massey's fault that Umberto, in a drunken rage, beat the Shop Steward to death with a No. 7 Stillson wrench? As if, my friends, as if.

 

Excellent,

It is a wonderful book and very complete in the fields it touches. very compact and very helpful. Missing? A more updated version. I also needed help with the gas section because this guide was not enough, and definitely not good at all in drafting. The rest is excellent and a must in the preparation for the theoretical journeyman exam. Without it, it would be really difficult to get the license.

 

Plumber's Exam Preparation Guide,

This book is extememly well prepared. I use this for reference material with my students. Waiting for an updated version.

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Last modified: Friday, 2007-11-02 22:04 PST