The Cycle of Water
Your bathroom plumbing system will occasionally need repairing. Finding a drain stoppage or blockage in your washroom is not too challenging once you understand how the water circulates in your home. Your bathroom toilet drains directly into your main home stack, whereas your bathtub and sink drain foremost into one-and-a-quarter or one-and-a-half inch drain lines. This in turn empties into your main drain. Now that you understand what happens to the water in your lavatory let’s examine where a blockage is likely to occur.
A p-trap is designed to hold a little bit of water so that notorious gas fumes from the sewers does not back up into your home. Because of its sideway “p” or “u”-shaped design most drain stoppages occur in the lower section of the trap connected to your fixtures. Since your pipes are joined and for the most part work in conjunction to facilitate the flow of water and waste we can summarise that if your toilet and sink both are draining properly, but your toilet empties slowly, then the tub trap or drain line is more than likely where the blockage is occurring.
On the other hand if when the water flows from your vanity sink, it backs up into your bathtub, then the problem is taking place somewhere between your sink and your toilet. Hence, based upon the previous scenario, another place this blockage could happen is between the sink and your main drain. As you can see pinpointing the drain stoppage is not an exact science, but at least you will know where to start looking if the problem occurs.
When finding a drain blockage, this type of obstruction is altogether not an uncommon occurrence and is usually caused if the drain between the sink and your stack angles downwards in the direction of your sink. This nature of obstruction is more common in older homes where the foundation of the house has settled over time or from natural phenomena such as earthquakes.
To resolve this blockage problem, you have to first remove the trap under the sink and run a drain snake into the pipe. If you can, try to maneuver the snake in the direction of the main stack. You should be aware however, that if you have a T-fitting under your bathroom floor, you will have a fifty-fifty chance of the snake successfully going down the right path. Meaning you may have to try several times before you can get it to go in the right direction.
If this action seems fruitless and you have a basement, you might be able to go downstairs and see if you can access the stack from down there. Once there, try to insert the drain snake into the piping at a point where you can direct the snake towards the main stack.
On the off chance that your drain is on the second floor of your home, between the floor and ceiling, the only alternative is for you to keep trying from under the sink in your bathroom and attempt to get to the stack.
Sometime the plumbing from your bathtub and bathroom sink could be attached to a larger line that goes from your toilet to your main stack or drain. In a lot of upstairs baths, the drum trap for your bathtub will have the top flush with your bath floor so you can access it. Once you have cleaned both your sink and tub plumbing traps and the water is still running out slowly or backed up, you may have to take more drastic action to get at the heart of the drain stoppage problem.
Should You Hire a Professional?
Removing your toilet should be your last resort if you have a drain blockage and should not be taken lightly since the bottom of your toilet trap fits snugly over a wax ring that seals it against the closet flange on the floor. It’s not removing the toilet that is the issue; it’s when you have to put it back on with a new wax ring that precision is important. So if this will be a problem for you then you should probably get a plumber to do this. Read this for more information on how to save money on bath renovations by hiring the right contractor
Alright then, you are confident you can safely remove and replace your toilet yourself and have used the stop valve to turn off the water. After removing the toilet, the next step would be to run your snake from the main drain or the pipe between your toilet and main stack. Run your snake back through the drain line from your tub and sink basin to try to dislodge any foreign material obstructing the pipes.
Pinpointing where your bathroom plumbing is backed up is not too difficult but can sometimes be frustrating if you don’t know what to look for. Oftentimes however repairing a clogged drain may be as simple as using a plunger to unclog a sink or bathtub.
But sometimes you may need to snake your main drain, by following these steps you will be able to pinpoint where the plumbing problem lies. This may not solve the problem but at least you will know you have exhausted all avenues of repair. So when and if you get a professional plumber to step in and take over the expense will be justifiable when finding a drain blockage.