Drain Bladders

Drain Bladders are inexpensive and can literally save the consumer hundreds of dollars! With a little coaching, you will be on your way to removing stubborn drain blockages. And, in some cases, a drain bladder is much less trouble than cabling. Let’s get you started.

Go to your local “big box” store or Ace Hardware. In the plumbing section, you will be looking for a rubber or canvas tube with a female hose coupling on it. You will more than likely find it to look much the same as the one in the picture above.

You will need to know which size to purchase. If you are attempting to remove a blockage from a main sewer line from your home to the street, you will need the bladder for 3″ – 6″ lines. If you have a drain line of 2″ – 3″ diameter, try purchasing the 1 1/2″ to 3″ bladder. However, you may need the smaller one if your line is 2″ or less in diameter. Access to the drain line, typically dictates the size bladder you will need.

O.k., you are home and ready to go to work. Use your drain bladder in the manner it is made in order to stay out of trouble.

For example. In the drawing above, the fella has approached the clean out in the yard.

(This is a great place to do this work, if you are fortunate enough to have one there. There is less mess to clean up if something should go wrong.) However, he has not put the drain bladder in the clean out before turning the water on. What is about to happen here, is, the drain bladder is going to pressurize and fill until it explodes. If this happens in the house, you have a watery mess to clean up.

So, let’s go through the proper steps.

  • Determine the approximate location of the blockage.
  • Use the appropriate size drain bladder for the size of the pipe you are cleaning.
  • Attach the drain bladder to a garden hose.
  • Insert the drain bladder into the clean out or access you have created. Maybe you cut the pipe. Or, you may be clearing a tub drain or a shower drain. If it is a tub, see this article. My Tub Won’t Drain.
  • Push the drain bladder beyond the last branch fitting on the drain line. In other words, if you are clearing a kitchen sink blockage by a clean out or having had to cut the pipe open, and you know there is a drain for another fixture on the same pipe, tied in further down stream, you will want to push the drain bladder past the point at which the next fixture ties into the pipe you are working on. (If you do not do this, you will have water spewing into the air from the next fixture).
  • Be sure your drain bladder is not sitting in a fitting when you turn the water on. What will happen? The drain bladder will inflate. The area of the drain bladder not surrounded by pipe will continue to inflate until the drain bladder ruptures. This is due to not having solid pipe walls for the drain bladder to inflate against. (Remember, the drain bladder works by inflating, creating a seal that allows the water coming out to create forward pressure, down stream, against the blockage).
  • After running the drain bladder for about 20 seconds, determine if the water is breaking through the blockage. You may have to turn the water off at this point to make a determination. If the pipe has not been cleared, water and sewage will come back out at the point at which the drain line was accessed. You can be ready for this by having a large bucket or trash can there. Also, have a shop vac ready to use for clean up.
  • If the blockage is too hard for the drain bladder to penetrate, you may need to run a cable through the line before using the drain bladder again. This will soften the blockage and allow the drain bladder to force water against the blockage, moving it to the sewer.
  • Brass Craft, the manufacture of drain bladders has uploaded this video to YouTube ….

    Have a look…

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