Last time on the Super Amazing Stay-At-Home Hero Adventure Hour, I talked about how I battled a mystery clog in the sink. This article is about how I single handedly defeated the enemy and proved victorious.
Except I didn’t.
I failed. Miserably. I also resorted to something that I’ve never done in my life as a homeowner.
Here’s what happened:
MY BACKUP PLAN
Because I bought the Drano on word-of-mouth and the temptation of a money back guarantee, I figured maybe it just wasn’t strong enough for whatever lay beyond the trap, and I had to go to the hard stuff.
My choices were between Pequa and Hair & Grease brands. Pequa is one of the super nasty drain chemicals. There are more than enough warnings about death, blindness and chemical burns than you’ve probably ever cared to see. The only one that looks nastier is the “Hair & Grease” brand. It comes in a sealed plastic bag, with warnings for you to wear elbow length rubber gloves. Plus, it contains concentrated lye, and one does not want to look like an extra from Fight Club.
Besides, Pequa has always worked before.
DID PEQUA WORK?
No. No it did not. As you can probably tell from my last article, I always use chemicals as a last resort. I was more than baffled, because in the last eight years or so that I’ve lived in this house, I’ve only had two clogs that were so bad that I’ve needed to use chemicals. When I did, Pequa did the trick. It’s a great product that always worked, leaving the drains clear for years afterward. This clog was unreal.
Off to Home Depot I went to explore my options.
I went to Home Depot and evaluated my options. There were a variety of hand powered drain augers available, as well as powered ones to rent. This little hand auger had a 15′ cable and cost $16.48. The rental fee powered snake was $27 for four hours of use.
I went with the small hand powered one, because I figured that I could easily get it in the drain and then continue to have it for any clogs in the future. I’d be free of the reliance on chemicals!
…WILL ALWAYS BITE BACK”*
After dinner, I went back to fight the sink. I removed the PVC extender and put the cable directly in the trap. After a little maneuvering and elbow grease, it made it through the curve…and then. BAM.
The trap goes directly into the wall and immediately takes a 90 degree turn down. BAM! BAM! The cable won’t budge. I hold on to the grip and spin it as I try to get past that wall.
I stop. Restart. Take a few breaks. Nothing will give.
Two and a half hours go by. The entire time, I cannot get it past the one 90 degree turn.
Downstairs I hear my wife and daughter enjoying dessert and watching My Little Pony, while I’m rounding into my third hour of trying to get into the main pipeline! I felt like such an idiot for not getting the rental powered model.
I then did something that I never thought I would do upon embarking on this journey (even with an article published online, ready for my second part, ready to show how I conquered the clog with some strong will and a few helpful tools).
I quit. I quit harder than Mick Foley did at the 1999 Royal Rumble.
CALL A PROFESSIONAL
“Don’t wait another minute. Pick up the phone and call the professionals…” There! I got my Ghostbusters quote in…just not the one that I wanted. After all, it’s been 8 years since I’ve lived in the house and hadn’t needed to call a plumber before.
On Wednesday morning, Earth Day, after looking up some reviews on Yelp and HomeAdvisor, I went with this one local plumber that had far and away the best ratings. I called him, explained the situation, and he quoted me $135 an hour. Really fair considering the range I saw online.
After some gardening and lunch, my daughter laid down for her nap right before the plumbers arrived.
They opened the PVC extender, and using an electric auger, went to work on the clogged sink. The plumber commented that it was so odd that the trap was tied directly into the wall rather than away from it into a connecting pipe. It’s how they used to to it in these old houses. He also admired my antique toilet. The seat and tank are separate units.
The plumber’s assistant looked down at my little hand auger and said “wow, people buy these things huh?” I explained how I tried to clear the clog with it, but couldn’t get past that 90 degree turn. The plumber explained that there’s just not enough power to get it past the sharp turns in these old houses.
Ten minutes later, he yells “got it” and brings it back up. Soap and hair. Was the timing of me shaving my beard coincidental? Maybe. And it was so far in that even if I had gotten the cable down, the clog was deeper than the 15 foot length.
After running enough hot water through it to make sure that the drain was clear, they cleaned up, and we actually chilled in front of the house, talking about the neighborhood for a few minutes after settling the bill.
One of the last things he said before he left was, “oh, that little hand auger. Return that thing, it’s useless.”
COST OF TIME VS. PLUMBER
The chemicals ended up being $14.05, and the auger was $16.48. That’s $30.53. Plus there’s the cost of time. I spent 2.5 hours wrestling the snake. I spent about an hour going back and forth to Home Depot twice. I spent all that time with the vinegar and baking soda, boiling pots of water, jamming a coat hanger down the drain, and fixing the slip nut that I broke. I spent time bailing out water and cleaning up. That’s several hours of working on a clog that I KNEW was unusual. Does my time, energy and material cost $135? Hopefully Drano pays me back, and I can return the auger, so it’s just the cost of Pequa and lost time.
I think that a parent should attempt simple problems themselves. You gain a lot of skills and save a lot of money that way. However, despite the best of efforts, some problems are just too much and you have to call a professional. And there’s no shame in that. After all, even Spider-Man has to call The Avengers from time to time.
Quote: “The snake will always bite back” -Jake Roberts