Recently I’ve been cleaning and organizing our storage areas–garage, basement, shed. A main goal is to gain a place for everything and catalog what we still need or is broken. Our tools are all over the house and as I started getting them wrangled up, I thought about how much a person needs. I started making a list that is turning into a series about the essential tools every homeowner (and renter) should have.
Not everyone has a garbage disposal. But, I’m pretty sure all of you have drains and sinks of some kind in your home or apartment. Whether it’s the kitchen sink, bathtub, shower, or bathroom sink, we’ve all had that moment when the water stops draining and starts filling up from the other side.
I’ve made this mistake several times, thinking I can put everything in our disposal before I started composting most of it. Eggshells, vegetable waste, rice, pasta, you name it. Then it was only a matter of time before both basins would fill up, and nothing would work to get them clear. Not Drano, not a plunger, not two plungers, nothing. So out comes the phone and the plumber gets called. After a couple times of this, and coughing up $100 each time, I decided that this was the kind of thing I had to be able to solve on my own.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to put plumbers out of business; there are many, many things I would never attempt to do myself. If it involves water pressure, or temperature, or this, I’m calling those guys immediately. But for a backed-up drain, you’ll save time and plenty of money if you just invest in a pipe snake.
Most times, especially in the kitchen, the backup lies in the p-trap, the bent pipe under your sink. That’s just a matter of removing that (with a bucket under it!) and cleaning it out. But for the real bad blockages, the snake works best. There are several types, some that attach to power drills, small plastic models, but I prefer the kind with the spinning drum. It’s cleaner (because when you pull that auger back out of your drain, it will most certainly be the most foul-smelling and looking thing you’ve ever seen) because it winds back up into the plastic drum, and easier to control. With the drill types, it can spin and whip all over the place, making a wet, black mess all over your kitchen. Don’t get me wrong–there is some work involved with clearing a drain blockage, but the satisfaction of fixing something yourself, and not having to pay someone else to do it is more than worth it.
Hopefully, you won’t have to use it very often, but even if you only do one single time, you’ll have saved a fortune. So next time your toilet explodes, call the plumber. But next time your drain backs up, fix it yourself.