Plumbing has been around since ancient Rome, and my house’s plumbing has been around for almost 100 years. It’s expected to be backed up from time to time. What I didn’t expect was the doozy I was handed over the last couple of days.
Two days ago, Sunday, we also had a fun date night where me and the wife were able to go see the ballet while grandma watched the little one. I hadn’t shaved since Easter, so when I finally shaved off my pre-lumberjack beard, a lot of hair was left behind in the basin.
After mutilating my face, I opened the drain…and…nothing. Oh, crap. It’s clogged. Oh well, I’ll fix it later. Off we went.
Sunday night, I went through my usual checklist of unclogging a sink.
- Boiling Water
- Baking Soda & Vinegar
- Wire Hanger
- Taking The Darn Thing Apart
Boiling water did nothing. Neither did baking soda & vinegar. Sometimes the drain would ease out slowly, sometimes it was blocked completely, and I had to bail out the water. Regardless, it was still stuck, and I went to bed.
Monday afternoon, I attacked it full force during my daughter’s nap with a wire coat hanger. I was able to get it down all the way to the trap, yet nothing budged. I went for a plunger…after cleaning it as best I could, I tried to plunge the sink. Nothing happened besides getting the sink dirty. I filled up the bathtub and tried to plunge that, hoping enough pressure in the main drain pipe would knock the sink’s clog out…nope. Remember when I mentioned in a past article that there’s a time to use chemicals like bleach to clean? That time would be now.
At this point, I usually reach for our family’s go to drain opener of choice, Pequa, but we were out. So instead, I skipped that step. I got a wrench and went to work underneath.
We have two metal pipes connected via a flexible PVC extender. I undid the slip nut and in the process cracked the washer.
More work is always fun.
After running the coat hanger through the U-shaped trap, I determined that the clog was not in there but further past in the main drain…uh oh.
I connected the pipes back together, hoping the water would somehow bypass the crack in the washer, but physics got the best of me. I henceforth declared the bathroom out of order, cleaned up, woke up daughter, cooked dinner and mulled about what the next steps were.
WE MUST PREPARE
After dinner, I ran to Home Depot and bought three things.
- Slip Nut & Washer (.97)
- Drano Snake etc… (6.58)
- Pequa (7.47)
Obviously, I needed to replace the slip nut, so I got a replacement.
Some home DIYers online swore by the gel Drano, and this one not only came with a little snaking tool, it also came with a money back guarantee. How often do you see companies stand by their product like that right on the box?
My plan was this: fix the sink with the slip nut, use Drano, and save Pequa for another day if needed…
Here’s what happened:
Since the pipes were still disconnected, I took out the little plastic snaking tool from the Drano. I ran it through the trap into the main drain.
After fussing for a few minutes with it, I gave up. It didn’t catch anything, which is what I was afraid of. A lot of people on the internet recommended to remove the trap, but I didn’t feel comfortable with this plumbing set-up. It goes directly to the wall instead of another pipe. I was afraid of extra water spills and not being able to hook it back up correctly. After all, these are 95 year old pipes.
FIXING THE SINK
Helpful tip: always bring your busted item with you to Home Depot. That way you have a physical reference. It beats guessing, only to find that it’s the wrong size when you get home and you have to go back. That’s a mistake for lazy dads, not stay-at-home heroes.
I slip on the new nut and washer. I then turn on the water to test the connection…
…and discover that I did it backwards. Luckily the container I used to catch water was just big enough. I’m a genius.
After putting the washer one the correct direction, the joint holds and no more leaks. All right, at least the easy part is over.
After testing the seal, I bailed the water out as I best I could and then poured in the entire bottle of Drano gel. I followed the manufacturer’s instructions and waited it out for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes was up, the Drano had gone down. Looked promising.
I filled a bucket with super hot water from the bathtub to help flush it out, because I didn’t want to wait out the bathroom tap to warm up.
I poured in the hot water, and….
It clogged right back up. Great. That’s why this article is titled “PART ONE.” I was hoping to end this with the Drano working, me tearing up the guarantee and referring to Peter Venkman’s test subject yelling “You can keep the five bucks.” Ah, the frivolity of planning ahead sometimes.
After the Drano failed to help, I was going to say that I don’t recommended it. But for all I know it works well on simpler clogs. And the money-back guarantee makes it worth a try. It didn’t work for me, and if they refund me as promised, I’ll be more than happy to have tried it.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: ON MAY 11th, I RECEIVED A LETTER THAT THEY DENIED MY GUARANTEE BECAUSE I DIDN’T INCLUDE MY ORIGINAL RECEIPT, WHICH I DID. I’LL KEEP YOU POSTED IF THIS GETS CLEARED UP BY THEM OR NOT. NEEDLESS TO SAY, I’M VERY DISAPPOINTED.]
We’ll see in Part Two if I’m able to clear the drain with Pequa, or do I have to resort to more desperate measures. Tune in next time for the stunning conclusion…hopefully.