Thursday, January 19, 2012

Avoiding Plumber's Crack

If you thought this post was going to be about high-waisted pants or jumpsuits, you're going to be disappointed. That's the next style blog over. It's time to get down to business and talk about plumbing. And a few tricks for fixing slow drains without calling a plumber.

Every few weeks, our shower drain would slowly clog up. I have long hair, so we know I'm the culprit. Therefore, I figured it was my responsibility to remedy the situation. My usual approach included bending a wire hanger and shoving it down the drain to fish out the clog. Not the most glamorous thing, but it got the job done. Kind of.

Unfortunately, there came a time when we ran out of wire hangers, so I knew it was time to try something new. I didn't want to buy chemicals because they're dangerous, can be bad for the environment, and would be a repeat purchase. I needed something like the wire hanger, but better.

Off to our neighborhood Ace Hardware! After consulting with one of the guys there, I picked up a Drain Claw for about $6.50 including tax.

This thing is pretty much the bomb-diggity. And super easy to use!

The Drain Claw is a long, firm, yet bend-y wire with "velcro" teeth on the end. That's the gross-out hair ball catcher.

Simply straighten out the Drain Claw, push it down the drain, wiggle it around, pull it out, and get ready to gasp!

This guy can pull out chunks of hair like you can't believe! And since John wouldn't let me post the actual picture of the hair chunk I dislodged, I drew you one.

Seriously. Yuck!

Unfortunately, I was feeling a little smug in my new found plumbing skills and decided to try them out on the bathroom sink. It seemed to be draining slowly, so I decided to fish around for more yuckiness.

I don't know if it was user error, a faulty product, or a faulty sink drain, but I managed to bust the pop-up in the sink. After hours of searching YouTube, multiple trips to Ace Hardware, and about $30 later, we had a newly installed pop-up and drain for the sink.

But I'm going to show you a quick way to save the hassle and $30. It only takes your two hands (at least for my set-up) and something to catch the water. I used a flower vase from our wedding. I know, really romantic! You can turn off the water to the sink, but I live on the wild side and left the water on. But not running, silly.

After you've placed your bucket (or whatever) below the drain, we're going to unscrew the J bend from P-trap (the rest of the pipes). It's the curvy part of the drain where most of the gunk is probably sitting. And there will be water in there to create a seal that prevents sewer gas from entering your house or apartment.

Unscrew one side and let some of the water drain out.

Unscrew the other end and slowly slide the J bend down.

Once you've dumped the excess water, inspect your J bend and remove any clogs. Hook your J bend back up, making sure all of the pipes line back up. Run some water down the drain to test for any leaks. If something's leaking, the pipes might not be lined up properly or fully tightened.

If you still have a clog, it might be time to bring out the big guns and call a plumber.

Time to share! Have you had any recent home improvement victories or flubs?

PS - This is my own review of the Drain Claw. I wasn't compensated to write this.

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  1. Honestly, i'm so glad you didn't post the picture of the actual hairball. :)

  2. So this is weird-- but I actually have a hair trap-- you can get them from walmart for a few bucks- it stops the hair from going down the tub in the first place, saving you time and money in the long run! :)

    1. there came a time when we ran out of wire hangers, so I knew it was time to try something new. I didn't want to buy chemicals because plumber in reading they're dangerous, can be bad for the environment, and would be a repeat purchase. I needed something like the wire hanger, but better.

  3. So-- this is kind of awkward- but I have a hair trap that I have in my tub, they are about 3 bucks at walmart or whatever. It stops my hair from even making it down the drain-- a few minutes cleaning it out each day has saved me hours of cleaning out the drain in the long run! :)

  4. stackingpennies - Glad to know I made the right decision by including a drawing instead of the actual picture!

    apellettieri - A hair trap also sounds like a good little investment! Does it work with all types of drains?

  5. I used to use a hair trap in my old apartment... it is usually just a little cover that goes over the drain or sits inside it, like a colander, so I think you can find one to fit on any type of drain.

  6. Thanks for the tips - that little velcro things looks nifty. For my less than serious clogs, I use baking soda, salt and vinegar (equal parts) then flush with a couple gallons of boiling water.

  7. I need this! Especially with my long hair.

  8. It was rather interesting for me to read this blog. Thanks for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

  9. Thank you I enjoyed reading your post, especially the illustrations that are well embedded in the text

  10. Congratulations, your post and very well prepared with tips step by step, with topics ecelentes.

  11. Thanks for the tips - small velcro things that seems cool


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