Sunday, December 21, 2008

fun with plumbing

The last couple weeks have been filled with late nights at work, along with Dan working up revisions to drawings and plans to resubmit them for permits. We now have most of the permits we need for the next batch of work, but there are couple more we're still waiting on a decision for.

Today's fun activity was taking apart the plumbing for our shower drain, which hasn't been doing much in the way of drainage for a week. We've snaked it, poured baking soda and vinegar down it, we even tried drano as a last resort, but no luck. This morning it was time to pull the p-trap and see what was inside.

Except that upon inspection, there was no way of removing the p-trap short of taking a sawzall to the whole dwv assembly. This whole maze of pipes was assembled as a single unit, clearly before it was installed up in the joists.

There was one point connecting to the vent that was held together with a no hub coupling, so we loosened that and removed a section of the vent pipe from outside to try to run a snake from there to the trap. Only instead of the coupling releasing the pipe, the fitting the coupling was connected to broke off at the end, leaving the threads still threaded into the next pipe in the chain


And here you can see both why the metal might've been a little extra rusty at that point, and also why the tub hasn't been draining. It's a nice solid mass of hair and gunk. The blackish ring just inside the rusty ring are the threads that are stuck in there.

The problem was that there was a change in pipe diameters at this point, and the coupling used was designed to go from a larger to smaller pipe, not from a smaller to a larger pipe. I know it doesn't seem like much of a difference, but this same problem cursed us at our Oakland house until we finally found it and swapped it out with the correct part. The difference is that the smaller to larger coupling has a slanted wall so the inside change in size is nice and smooth. The larger to smaller coupling has a stepped wall so anything coming down the drain has a perfect ledge to hang onto. Then a little more sticks, and a little more, and eventually you've got this mucked up pipe right here.

After scraping the schmutz out into a bucket, we have some reasonably cleanish (look, they're 100 years old, they're not going to look like new) pipes.

This is what came out of the pipe. It was less than I expected, but still sufficiently gross. I was tempted to post it as a trichobezoar on craigslist, but it was much more satisfying to throw it away.

The new coupling had to stretch all the way around the fluted end of the pipe because trying to remove the broken threads was just making things worse, so Dan softened the rubber up along with some hot water in the microwave.


Not the most by-the-book fix, but we'll be redoing all this plumbing in another year, so this just has to hold out till then.


And here's everything all put back together, and here I go to take a nice hot shower!

3 comments:

Ayse said...

Is that a vertebra on the floor next to Cousin It?

Every time I'm getting all worked up about something being messed up on our place, I come look at your old photos (especially the rat-in-toilet) for a little calming perspective.

Gene said...

Nasty! Both the contents and the shape the pipes themselves were in.

The MadScientist said...

Hi Ayse, Nope thats not a vertebra its just a little bit of spray foam that we had to chunk out to get the drain line out.

Its good that our situation can make others feel better about theirs. 'Our situation is bad but at least its not as bad as the Neumanskys'...

Gene-yep pipes are barely holding on...I've never seen threaded cast iron pipes before...guess we should be glad that they weren't lead-hemp joints