An annoying plumbing job

THE PLUMBING TASK from last week was to clear up the sink drain. But there was a problem. The drain was routed such that there was NO way to get a snake through it. Nothing I did would restore flow.

New under-sink plumbing, showing closed-off old drain and new drain
New drain pipe stub has more direct path than the old one that went into the wall.

I could have broken into a wall to install another cleanout plug, but I decided to bypass the clog instead, which posed a new problem: a gas pipe in the way made it impossible to plumb. I’d need… a 15-degree elbow, which nobody makes. So I decided to make one. This was literally the only interesting part of the job; everything else was boring, profanity-inducing, and filthy.

I did some geometry and cut a 1.5-inch hole in the floor for the new drain stub. But did you know that 60-year-old timber gets REALLY hard? Especially if there’s a knot where you need to cut.

Pipe was bent using heat and rotation, like a rotisserie
The unique bent pipe installed.

But how to bend the pipe?

I had never bent PVC drain pipe before. So I made a 15 degree jig that would allow a gradual bend. Because where plumbing is involved, kink-shaming IS a thing.

Then I set a large brick on a heavy aluminum plate, and started turning the pipe against the brick, painting on heat from the torch. Once the pipe became a little rubbery, I set it against the bending jig, held it there, and let it cool. Then I cut the pipe to length and installed it in such a way that it could be removed if necessary.

Then I had to modify the floorboard of the sink cabinet. I drilled a hole then cut it across the middle of the hole. Then I designed a 2-piece flange and put it on the 3D printer. While that was printing, I painted the damaged floor under the sink with some polyurethane.

The modified drain works like a champ; sink drains better than it ever has. And it can be serviced much more easily. But it was a diversion I really could have done without.

measurements and diagram to make 2-piece 3D printed pipe flange

In the spring when I replace the 20-foot drain section in the basement ceiling, I’ll add further modification for better venting and flow. But the whole works is going very well now.

An early sketch of the plumbing situation. I make these to help create shopping lists

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Older technology guy with photography and history background