Home>Discussions>PLUMBING>The Garbage Disposal and the Clog
17 posts / 0 new
Last post
civickarma
The Garbage Disposal and the Clog

Hi,

I have what appears to be a fairly large problem. My kitchen sink will not drain, not even slowly, unless I run the garbage disposal. Here's what I've tried: Plunging to no avail, removing the p-trap and snaking about 10' in, Drain-o (bad idea I know, but I was desperate), and THEN, in case it was just a ventilation problem, I installed an Air Admittance Valve--no dice.

I am in a top floor condominium (3 story) that's mid eighties construction but a recent conversion from apartments w/ a total overhaul. None of my neighbors are having similar problems (downstairs or next door), and there are no other clogs anywhere else in my house. I'm stumped. Help?

A. Spruce
Re: The Garbage Disposal and the Clog

It's possible that the 10' snake wasn't long enough to reach the clog. If it was, then the head of the snake may have poked through, but it wasn't able to clear the blockage. Did your snake have any debris caught in the end when you pulled it out?

civickarma
Re: The Garbage Disposal and the Clog

No, there's wasn't any debris on the end of the snake save for the usual slime. I had a hard time getting it down the pipe further than 10' because there's a 90 degree bend. The weird thing about it is though, that it drains just fine when I run the disposal, but if I don't run it the water will stand in the sink for days. Unless I'm forcing the water into someone's wall (which I would have heard about by now) I don't know how it could drain at all w/ the disposal running. I'll try hitting the snake again, but any other suggestions are more than welcome. Thanks a lot!

canuk
Re: The Garbage Disposal and the Clog
Quote:

but a recent conversion from apartments w/ a total overhaul

Has this problem just recently shown up or has it been a problem from day 1?

If it's been an on going problem I'm suspecting the disposal drain port is too low where it connects to the drain pipe from the wall .

When you turn on the disposal it's acting like a pump which pushes the water up hill .

Just a guess. :)

civickarma
Re: The Garbage Disposal and the Clog

It's a single sink, and it wasn't a problem from day 1. When I fill up the sink all the way the water will stay for days, but if I run the disposal it drains. And when it drains, I see a whirlpool, which--according to in-sink-erator's online troubleshooting guide--means I have a clogged line. I was about to test that theory and pull the disposal out of line to make sure water didn't just drain with it out of the way, but my wife said she'd punch me in the face if I tried to do plumbing on the 4th of July. Thanks a lot guys, more advice is appreciated.

civickarma
Re: The Garbage Disposal and the Clog

And canuck, I'm starting to think you might be right here. It's possible that the disposal waist line is too low, but when I first moved in there was no blockage at all and there was enough force to clear the line. But, after using the disposer for a couple of months and putting some debris in the way, the water has to go through too much trouble to get over that hump and so it sits there until I pump it out. Just thinking....

canuk
Re: The Garbage Disposal and the Clog
Quote:

test that theory and pull the disposal out of line

Good test .... if it is a clogged drain then you should see the same results.

Unfortunately disposals add to clogged drain problems.

Good luck and let us know how you make out. :)

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: The Garbage Disposal and the Clog

This guy had the same problem. http://ask.metafilter.com/17844/Clear-pipe-mystery-sink-wont-drain

clog under the grinder plate or in outlet tube you can disconnect the outlet tube from the unit to check but unplug or disconnect power first. plug hole for the outlet tube then use plunger to pull clog back into unit. use allen wrench tool to spin unit after plunging and rinsing boiling hot water through to bucket see if it drains without the whirling action of running it.

once long time ago I clogged up the sink vent with potato peels and grease from runing through garbage disposal. snaking didn't clear clog because only snaked drain not vent, peelings dried with potato starch like cement and held the grease like a water and air tight seal. only the whirlpool action of the disposal running let out air and forced drain. maybe you should ask your condo maintenance if there is a plumbing door for a clean out in the common area side or above that you can get snake or hose to jet in.

civickarma
Re: The Garbage Disposal and the Clog

Okay, here's the update:

I got a little more serious about the snake, and I bypassed the garbage disposal. Results:

It's not just the garbage disposal, because when I ran water down the pipes with the garbage disposal out of line the water still overflowed.

I've been trying my hardest to get a snake more than 10' in, but there's something blocking it--possibly the clog but then no debris comes back on the end of the snake.

One more pertinent piece of info that I discovered is that there is not a Tee in the wall, it's an elbow that flares out a little bit so it looks like a Tee. What's actually going on is there is an elbow that does a 90 degree straight down, and at the mouth of that turn there is standing water.

Meaning this is probably just a mean clog. I still haven't been able to dislodge it yet however, I may just have to call a licensed plumber or a rooter to come clean this out (the ultimate defeat). Any idea what kind of clog wouldn't respond to draino? Maybe a dead rat or something... Thanks a lot guys, more advice is always welcome.

canuk
Re: The Garbage Disposal and the Clog

If you are putting a lot of fiberous material through the disposal this can accumulate in the drains and cause a clog.

I'm still curious if the drain port of the disposal is lower than the drain pipe from the wall?
The sanitarty tee should only be about 12 inches from the floor not the bottom of the cabinet.

civickarma
Re: The Garbage Disposal and the Clog

Canuck: The drainpipe for the disposal is indeed above the drain pipe in the wall, by about 4". Although the drain pipe in the wall does slope the wrong way slightly for about 6-8". That would make sense to me as well, except that when the waist pipe in the wall takes a 90 straight down there's still standing water.

YukYuk: My first thought in all of this was that it was a venting issue, so I installed an Oatey Air Admittance Valve to try and bypass the building's venting--and the water still stood still.

Is that not an accurate test? Would the building's ventilation being clogged up still stop the water even though there's an AAV inline?

In any case, I think you're right that if the problem is more than 10' below my floor, and I don't have any living space of my own down there, it's a building issue. I'll give them a call and let you know what happens! Thanks a lot.

Pages

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.