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Question DetailsAsked on 8/31/2015

How to clean out the accordion drain pipe from my shower enclosure?

I have a lovely ariel shower enclosure. It is not draining properly, because the accordion pipe the plumber installed catches all the gunk in the corrugations. When the plumber installed the shower enclosure, he ran flexible corrugated pipe from the drain and along the floor to a wall. It connects to the drain system in the wall. I now know this was not what should have been done, but the only way to undo it requires disassembling the entire enclosure and ripping out the floor to install a proper shower drain.
Is there a way to wash that gunk out?

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1 Answer


So - now you know why accordion piping is illegal for many types of drains, including tubs and showers. This was aggravated by running it along the floor to the wall, instead of putting in a properly sloped drain pipe to the sewer line. I don't have a "Great" solution for you, but a few that have worked in the past -

It cannot easily be flushed out with a sewer pressure jetting tool simply for two reasons - most of the blockage is likely accumulated hair so low-pressure flow would not likiely move it, and you cannot generally get a pressurized drain cleaner down a tub or shower drain pipe and around the trap. Plus if you could, would likely derstaroy the flex tubing, which is usually pretty thin. and not designed to hold any pressure.

There are micro-jetters down to 1/4" diameter for industrial pipe cleaning so could get past the drain fittings, but I seriously doubt any local drain cleaners or plumbers have one - you could call a few drain cleaners and ask around. The other problem is the flex tubing is very weak - so breaks apart easily, so jetting might just tear right through it.

You might be able to use a garden hose, with one person handling it, other turning on and off and using cell phones or yelling for communications in case it backs up on you and needs immediate turnoff; and to say when to turn on. Or use an on-off valve or nozzle on hose you can turn off at the shower. Put into the drain outlet (with hair screen removed) and use a tightly wound rag around it jammed against the outlet as a gasket so all the water goes down the drain instead of filling the shower base. Start with low flow to be sure it is not essentially fully blocked (which might just blow the flex tubing apart if you pressure it up) and work up with the flow rate. Hot water from the water heater drain valve (but be careful about spraying/leaks with the hot water) would work better.

Drain cleaners like Liquid Plumber might work - but the flex tubing is made basically for sinks, I don't know how it would take to a drain cleaner sitting in it - might embrittle or dissolve it. Baking soda put down the drain, followed by vinegar should not hurt it and can dissolve some of the muck and soaop scum, but not the hair.

One thought - are you sure it is the accorian drain that is the problem - because once the bottom corrugations filled in, the bottom would be smooth and probably drain OK. Remove hair screen and look down into drain with flashlight -might be hyou have a lot of hair caught up on the crossbars most drains have, or at the bend - in which case a flex plastic hair removal snake or very long needle-nose pliers can be used to grab and pull it out. That is the normal drain blockage point.

Another possibility - Amazon and others have long (up to 2 foot) spiny plastic snakes - you push them in with water running to wash away dislodged material, then pull it out - the hooks are curved like velcro hooks so they pull out most of the hair, which is the normal cause of shower blockages. Do in short degments - just a few inches first, then a bit further in each pass, so you don't grap a giant wad and then can't pull it out or break the flex tubing or break off the plastic snake.

What do you have underneath the shower enclosure - can you come up from below (usual way to fix tub/shower drain problems anyway) or is there access from low down on a wall that backs up to the shower ?

If none of those work, and you don't have access from the floor underneath because you are on concrete slab, I guess maybe try liquid plumber and be prepared for possible failure and leak. Or pay to have a hole cut near the connection from shower to sewer line, to be able to reach in and replace the line from the drain to the sewer line or drain stack. Or write off the shower base and have it replaced, though in most cases that means the enclosure has to be pulled out too because the base/pan fits up behind the bottom of the enclosure 1/2-1 inch typically.

If this was a recent job, if the plumber won't replace it with proper rigid piping at a proper slope, file a claim with his Bonding company to have them do it right.

And of course, when all is said and done, possibly a complaint about shoddy workmanship contrary to code to the licensing board, and/or an appropriate Angies List Review.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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