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I've had an ongoing battle with my bathroom sink. A little over a year ago, I successfully cleared a clog using a liquid drain cleaner but noticed some leaks at the juncture of the J-bend, and so I replaced the plumbing under the sink (p-trap and slip nuts). Fast forward one year, and the clog is back with a vengeance. I dismantled the P-trap and cleaned out what I assume was some minor soap slime, but there was no clog, suggesting that the clog is somewhere in the wall. I again used a liquid drain cleaner and again successfully cleared the clog - or so I thought. Two days later the drain was again clogged, and this time the water is draining much more slowly. I tried using a liquid drain cleaner a third time, but this time the clog isn't moving. Before I spend money on either an auger or plumber, I have a couple of questions:

  1. Is it possible that this clog has something to do with the way I installed the P-trap? For example, does the P-trap have to be pitched in a particular manner? It seems unlikely that this is the problem, given that I went nearly a year without any problems after installing the P-trap.

  2. I live in condo complex and I've had yearly problems with backflow in my bathtub as well, which has required snaking. It turns out that my bathtub drain forms a tee with my neighbor's before connecting with the main line, and plumbers have suggested that my neighbor's thick black hair may be the culprit (based on the hair captured by the auger). Do bathroom sinks typically form tees with neighboring sinks in large condominium complexes, or are they usually on separate lines?

Any suggestions as to how to proceed with this clog would be appreciated. I assume a drain auger is the next step.

  • I would also check around the popup drain plug. – Duston Dec 3 '19 at 20:58
  • Hi Duston, I've removed the pop-up drain plug and the clog is still intact. I've also used a wooden rod to clean the tailpiece running between the drain opening and the P-trap and flushed it with water, and it appears to be clear. – ryp Dec 3 '19 at 21:11
  • Is the availability of a drain snake/auger the issue? You can get a small one for pretty cheap. – JPhi1618 Dec 3 '19 at 21:28
  • Availability is not necessarily a problem. My local Home Depot rents augers, but I was trying to start with a cheaper, more conservative approach before spending money on an auger or plumber. It seems that it's cheaper to purchase an auger and, considering the numerous plumbing issues I've encountered, it might save me some money in the long run. – ryp Dec 3 '19 at 21:46
  • There is no way that an improperly installed P-trap can cause a clog further downstream (although it can cause other problems). So you can cross that off the list of things to worry about. – Mike Baranczak Dec 3 '19 at 23:15
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I agree that it's probably not the P trap.

It's pretty common for condo/apartments to share main drains. Has your neighbor had problems too? Liquid drain cleaners will work for only so long and then usually an auger or snake is needed. You can pick up a inexpensive snake at your home store and try that out. It could definitely solve your problem. If not, you have to consider the possibility of tree roots breaking into the pipes. If you have a condo association they might foot the bill if more than one unit has the problem... Good luck.

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  • Thanks very much for your suggestion, Jack. Two days after I called a plumber to clear my bathtub drain due to backflow last year, I heard a plumber snaking out my neighbor's bathtub drain and I ran over and spoke to the plumber. He told me that he was able to get some hair out of the line, though he said it was further than 15 feet down. So, yes, my neighbor has had problems. The HOA paid to have a plumber snake the bathtub drain last week, as I was again experiencing backflow, but the plumber would not snake the bathroom sink drain, since the work order listed only the bathtub drain. – ryp Dec 3 '19 at 21:43
  • think about buying a snake and running it down your sink drain. Remove the trap so you don't have to feed the snake down the sink pipe and through the trap. – JACK Dec 3 '19 at 21:50
  • Thanks Jack! I purchased a drain auger. I'll remove the P-trap and feed the auger directly into the wall. I appreciate your help. – ryp Dec 4 '19 at 5:56

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