Welcome to Just Answer.
Sorry to hear about your problem.
The best choice would be to remove as much of the small drain piping as possible and upgrade to 3 or 4 inch PVC. This would solve many problems, but I know it may not be in your budget.
The next best thing is to use a tool that can scrape the pipes; a plumbers snake/ auger that has the correct size fitting on the end can help cleanup the pipes. You can rent these at a local rental shop or have it professionally done by a qualified plumber.
If you have any cleanouts, they can help. You will need to remove the end cap by twisting it off with a wrench. Once the cap is off you can use a plumbers snake/ auger to clear the clog.
Another approach you can take, for removing clogs but not so much for cleaning the pipes, is to remove the trap and use a product called the "Drain King," found at your local home improvement store or hardware store; they work great at unclogging drains. It comes in different sizes for different drain diameters and you simply attach it to a hose and slide the hose down the drain pipe or at removed trap, as far as it will go. You then turn on the hose and it builds up pressure to the point where it releases in several bursts, expanding and contracting. You can clear one obstruction and then push the hose further to get to others and they are only around 10 to 15 dollars.
Here is a short video on how the Drain King works, but ignore the foreign language.
Chemicals often do more harm than good on the plumbing, so I would stay away from them.
If you need further help or clarification on this answer, please do not hesitate to reply to this post.
Thanks for asking your question at Just Answer.
Best of Luck, Brian
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I am just getting around to trying your suggestion. The clean out endcap probably has not been used in 50 years. I put a pipe wrench on it and could not get it loose. I sprayed it with a liquid wrench type oil and am going to heat it up with a propane tourch and see if it will come loose. If it does not - do you have any other suggestions?
No problem. If you cannot remove the cleanout and do not want to cut any piping, then you should rent a long snake/ auger and just enter from a toilet flange. This would involve removing the toilet, but would allow you to enter at a decent point in the system.
Sorry that I have not gotten back to you. There is no toilet on that portion of the drain... except at the very end. I think that I remember looking down the toilet in the basement when I was renovating and seeing water draining into it... but the water was coming in about 2 feet below the floor. I don't see how I could feed a snake into that.
I cut a large portion of old pipe out and then replaced it with a PVC run. I used rubber connecters at each end to connect the new pipes to old.
The blockage was not in the replaced pipe. The blockage was under the basement bathroom concrete slab. I could not get a snake past a certain point in the blocked pipe. I took a small diameter length of pvc pipe and pushed it into the clogged pipe. When I hit a block, I pushed harder and harder and finally ramed the pipe through the 'blockage'. I dont see how I could have broken though the pipe - but it feels like I did not totaly clean the blockage. At this point it now feels like I am pushing the pvc pipe through a small opening just big enough for the pipe to go through. I can push the pipe about one foot father but it is not going freely as it did up to the blockage
The initial problem seems to be fixed because problem drains are not overflowing. I feel like the problem may return at some point.
If you have any more thoughts on this please elaborate. Also there are other slow drain runs in the house. If I have access to a drain through a tub, how easy is it for a power snake to navigate the trap and traverse the pipe if the drain has right angles in it?
No problem...take your time.
It sounds like you may have cleared a large portion of it; since you still have slow draining sinks, there is still either a partial blockage or the drainage system is simply lined with crud, restricting flow, sort of like clogged arteries.
You can enter a tub/ shower or a sink; I was under the impression that there was a toilet on this branch and the 2 inch pipe would have been undersized, but if there is no toilet, the size of the pipe is most likely adequate, but probably just needs a good cleaning. Some even enter the vent, up on the roof, but this can be more difficult. The Drain King or a snake/ auger can be used down the vent stack or even thru a disconnected trap at a sink. This may take some time, but I feel that you probably will need to enter at each sink trap and try to clear as much lined crud as possible, that has built-up on the inside of the piping.