Thursday, February 04, 2010

Down the Drain:DIY drain cleaning

Woke up Wednesday morning, got the kids off to school, did the dishes, turn on the dishwasher, ran the food scraps through the disposal and AAAAACCCCCHHHHH!!!!!!! it all came bubbling right back up.

Clogged sinks never happen at a good time. This time I was expected at the school to pick up PTA paperwork, Dave was waiting for me to drop off his lunch and some cough drops, and I had an empty refrig to fill/grocery shopping to do. I flipped the dishwasher off and left the dirty water sitting, hoping it would drain by the time I got back. It didn't.

Time to do some serious fixing. I put on some old jeans and a T-shirt, put my hair into a pony tail and got to work.First, I assembled my supplies: a bucket, 4 big junk towels, the drain snake, cordless drill, and a pipe wrench. Next, I cleared everything out from under the sink, laid out my junk towels under the sink and on the floor under my knees, and set up the bucket under the pipes.

The messiest part of this whole messy job is draining all the water out of the sink. You can start by bailing it out from the top taking it scoop by scoop out and dumping it into the toilet or out in the yard(as long as there are no chemicals in the water). Once the water level is down as far as possible the rest will have to come out through the bottom drain. With the pipe wrench I carefully broke the seal on the pipes and slowly unscrewed them by hand watching out for the water. It will start dripping and if you move too quick spraying out of the joint in the pipe that you just opened! I let all the water drain into the bucket.

The initial opening of the pipe is not just wet and splashy it is also very stinky! I always have to turn away to keep from getting sick in my bucket. Within a few minutes it won't be so bad either the smell dissipates or I get used to it or some combination of the two. I completely remove the U-shaped pipe and inspect the pipes for clogs. Ocassionally the clogs are that easy to fix but not this time. I emptied the bucket and then replaced it under the sink. Time for the big guns--the drill driven drain snake!

Dave bought this snake for me when we first moved to this house--so romantic! At that time I had a clogged bathroom drain and my hand crank drain snake jammed and the coil kinked. This left the hand crank drain snake unusable and me very frustrated. {And to answer the questions I know you are thinking:1- I was very happy to get the new drain snake 2-yes, I usually do the minor repairs and maintenance because my husband is busy working and I like to do it--isn't he lucky--remember," he makes the money first, I make the money last"}

The new drain snake works like a charm and is so much easier to use than the old one. I simply hook it up to my (Dave's) cordless drill and let the drill do the spinning work while I do the pushing-the-line-into-the-drain work. This too is very stinky work and takes a bit of muscle sometimes. Once the coil line is fully extended into the drain and the drain seems clear I reverse the snake and bring the coil all the way back into the head of the snake (the big orange casing). The coil usually comes back all covered in black yucky slime or with food bits or hair clogs. This is why the bucket remains under the drain so that all this yuck and muck drop into the bucket and not on the cabinet floor or my jeans (and in case I get sick again).

With the drain cleared and the snake recoiled and the bucket full of muck it is time to reconnect my pipes being careful not to mis-thread or strip the connections and using the pipe wrench to make sure that the pipes are fully secured. With the bucket still under the pipes I like to test the line with a low stream of water to make sure there are no leaks. Once I am convinced they are sealed properly it is time to clean out the drain with lots of hot water. This hot water will wash all the grease, grime and gunk that was broken up by the snake and push it through and out of my pipe system. I let the hot water run for about 15 minutes.

All in all it is about an hours work, uninterrupted. Of course I was interrupted several times. This one hour job would have cost at least $135 for a plumber to fix. More than half what the hubby makes in a day! Finally by about 5:30 I had the whole thing cleared, put back together and cleaned up. Just in time to whip up a quick batch of shrimp fettuccine for dinner and for Dave to walk in and ask what I'd been doing all day.

1 comment:

  1. I think I need to go buy a snake! Impressive that you were able to fix it yourself and save money by not calling a plumber. It seems like I always need a plumber and it is always super expensive to get one.

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