double sink vanity mess--HELP!

socalsisterJuly 28, 2011

Plumber said we had slow drains in our new--NOT USED YET--double sink vanity (he was here to fix another problem in our master bath remodel). He tried to snake the drains with a regular snake but was unsuccessful. I read online about using a drophead snake in cases like this (no cleanout) but the plumber said the piece at the end of a drophead snake often breaks off. If this happened, it would create a bigger problem.

Well, he tried to bend the end of the regular snake to compensate for not using the drophead but still no luck (he said he tried at least 5 times). The sinks both are backed up with water (we didn't use the sinks at all since he was here). I also opened the vanity doors to reveal water soaking the bottom of my new vanity. The p-trap under the other sink also is dripping water (I didn't touch it!).

I called the plumber who said he would come tomorrow to install a cleanout--the only way to clear the clog properly. Unfortunately, to do this he will have to cut through the solid wood back of the drawer bank between the two vanities. I have to mention that this is our third plumber. (First one couldn't pass inspections, 2nd couldn't install the tub fixtures without leaks.) Third plumber fixed tub leaks and said the other two plumbers were goofballs--no cleanout installed when wall was open, and simple fixture assembly done incorrectly). The plumber said he took apart the p-trap on one sink, but not the other and, in fact, didn't touch the second sink. But he actually snaked the drains, so in a sense, wouldn't he have touched the second sink? Before he left, he said we could use the sinks, they just were slow.

We intended to wait to install the cleanout (and just suffer with slow drains) until we demo the kitchen below this bathroom (want bathroom done before we start kitchen!). Once the walls were open downstairs, the plumber could install the drain cleanout in the kitchen without cutting into the bath cabinet--or so we hoped.

I'm so tired of dealing with this (75+ weeks with no master bath!!) The third plumber handles commercial and well as residential plumbing and is also a licensed contractor. I want to trust him, but how could we develop two leaks after he is here--that have nothing to do with him? He did install a recirculating pump a few days ago that seems to work well. Could the pump somehow prevent water from draining from the sinks--and the sink drains to leak?

Any ideas on how to approach the problem of the leaks as well as how to eliminate the clog? Is a cleanout the only solution? (I'm surprised the inspector didn't notice the lack of a cleanout!) Thanks for your help.

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Pulling off the traps and snaking didn't help? I can see a P-trap leak being caused by snaking, it could certainly jar a fitting just enough.

Do other fixtures in the room as well as your other rooms drain well? Any gurgling when you flush the toilet, or if you flush a toilet in another room does the water in the bowl of this toilet shimmer at all?

Properly vented?

All too often I'll see someone stuff a rag or wad up a bit of insulation to plug a drain stub-out during construction instead of using a proper plug. Several times they've disappeared...down the drain. Oops.

Do these sinks have grates over the drain hole? Those can sometimes cause a little vacuum action as water leaves the bowl and that little vacuum can prevent proper draining.

Do they have pop-up drain stoppers? Those can sometimes interfere as well. But not usually.

Do the sinks have an overflow hole?

Sorry for all the Q's. But 75 weeks? Wow.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 2:45AM
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Hi Mongo. You stay up late!!

The other fixtures work fine. No gurgling toilet, no shimmering when other toilets flushed.

Properly vented? I assume it is. It was before and nothing was moved during the remodel--like replaced like. The vent is on the roof and the plumber said he wasn't going up there to check it.

The sink drains do not have grates--just drain stoppers with lift rods.

The sinks do have overflow holes.

I need to reiterate that the sinks were working prior to being snaked, they just drained slowly. Now, no draining at all.

75 weeks. No one can believe it.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 4:04AM
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The sinks have separate traps so that tells me two things.

First the center to center distance between the sink drains is greater than 30".

Second, that tells me that one and perhaps both sinks have a horizontal offset on the fixture arm to a common drain line.

That common drain line is at some point in between the sinks and there should be a vent line rising from the tie in point.

That vent may or may not go to the roof, but if not, it probably has a horizontal offset to a stack in the attic space.

If the vent goes through the roof they can run a snake down the vent from the roof.

If the vent has a horizontal offset in the attic space they can install the cleanout in the attic space without cutting your cabinet.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 4:45AM
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Thanks for your help lazypup.

Plumber came back today and successfully snaked the drain. I'm not sure why it worked today just glad that it did. Plumber said he replaced the entire p-trap sections on both sinks due to the leaks. He said the previous plumber must have installed them incorrectly. Again, don't know exactly what happened. I need my bathroom back and I think he corrected the problem.

As far as the venting: yes, there is a roof vent. Plumber didn't want to get on the roof. We don't have an attic space above the master bath, so he would have needed to cut the cabinet. We elected to wait to install the cleanout downstairs in the kitchen. Not the best location, but we will be opening the walls, so less mess.

Thanks again for taking the time to respond.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 2:40PM
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Hi Mongo. You stay up late!!

Yeah, I seem to be suffering eternal jet lag these days, I feel like I spend more time on the back of the clock than the front.

So the plumber got things flowing? Outstanding!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2011 at 8:04PM
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