Safe & effective (and easy) drain cleaning?

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Bob F wrote:

Just need to consider what is lurking in the drain...a few hairs to grab onto, dead skin, body oils, spit, toothpaste...yummy nutrients for slime and germs. Clean with hot water and detergent, kill germies with bleach, drag out the hairs and done.
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Sinks clogging as you describe are really not that common. You could avoid an onerous chore by changing your personal grooming materials. If you use the sink for shaving, try a different shave cream which might react less with your hard water supply and thus not produce the gunk you describe. A Norelco or Braun shaver might be an improvement,too. Similar experiments would be useful for hair washing, if you use the sink instead of shower. Bottom line, eliminate the cause and you eliminate the problem.
Joe
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Easier still is to stop putting down the drain whatever produces that "black tarry gelatinous mess" to begin with.
By any chance, do you wash up in that sink after doing your own car repairs?

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snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote in wrote:

I have the same kind of problem with the shower/bath drain. There is nothing to clean out with a snake, except that after a lot of water and working the snake the drain cleans up. I think one of the problems is that the pitch of the pipe from the drain to the stack is very shallow. I will try the baking soda approach now.
--
Best regards
Han
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re: "There is nothing to clean out with a snake, except that after a lot of water and working the snake the drain cleans up."
Huh?
How could the snake clean the drain if there was nothing for the snake to clean?
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There was some gooey stuff that reduced the effective size of the drain. There was nothing that the snake could pull out or push through. But, as you guessed, the working with the snake did clear things up. The next time plugging up the air hole, removing the drain cover and lots of heavy duty plungering, did stir up the goo and rinsed it down. Nothing really solid, and relatively little hair.
--
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Han
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re: "There was some gooey stuff that reduced the effective size of the drain."
...and that is what the snake *cleaned*.
A snake is not just for pulling or pushing something "solid", it's for clearing *whatever* is blocking the drain.
Therefore, there *was* something for the snake to clean - that gooey stuff that reduced the effective size of the drain.
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Han wrote:

The bubbling from the reaction of baking soda (base) and vinegar (acid) will stir stuff up, won't do squat to dissolve hair, grease, etc.
--

dadiOH
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That's funny, I've been using it for years in my shower and it works just fine.
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Han wrote:

Our shower suddenly started acting sluggish couple of years ago. I took off the drain cover and tried a coat hanger; when I pushed the coat hanger down, it felt like there was no pipe, just mud. Got the trusty flashlight and could see "something" dark. Bent a little hook on the end of the coat hanger and probed again; this time I pulled out a HUGE clump of hair, about 8 oz cup size. Gack!!! Another time I had a plumber out to unclog the tub drain - he could tell that two different people had used the tub by the hair color. That would be my mom and I with not very different hair color. He impressed me :o) Got the drain clear, too.
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snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net wrote:

Yeah, I have to do that to mine once every 18 months or so. Sucky job. Whoever designed this tub drain must not have had long-hair females in the house. Even with my above-the-collar, above-the-ear hair, it still gets hairballs every so often. If somebody with long hair used this tub, it'd have to be manually cleaned at least monthly. When I hit the lotto and build my dream house, tub will not have a pop-up drain plug, it will be a top screen with lots of small holes. You can clean that with your thumb, and fling it over the shower curtain. They hardly ever clog bad enough to need surgery.
-- aem sends...
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re: "When I hit the lotto and build my dream house, tub will not have a pop-up drain plug"
Why wait? Change it now.
When I redid my bathroom and replaced the tub, I decide to go "fancy". I install one of these "toe operated" drain stoppers:
http://fl2.shopmania.org/files/images/1294/danze-tip-toe-bath-drain-d490650ac~1293785.jpg
After having to dismantle it 3 times in less than a year to clear the mass of hair from three females showering daily, I replaced it with a standard lever operated pop-up and a drain cover with holes, the kind that keeps the hair on top for easy cleanup.
I haven't touched the drain in over 4 years.
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(snip)

1. I'm lazy. 2. Access is poor, and I'd have to empty out the hall closet to get to the gaping hole in the wall. 3. I'm lazy. 4. I'm trying not to think about what other sins I would see if I was to shine a bright light in that access hole. That whole bathroom really needs a gut job, due to lack of grout PM by idiot previous owner, and the lovely way he scraped off the wallpaper and left the walls looking like knockdown plaster. Not to mention the as-found tub faucet stems that were too short, so wall was simply open behind the knobs. Sink and toilet were already changed to white, but tub and tile surround is still a strange pink/tan color, somewhere between pepto-bismol and dentures. I have the grout and tub caulk sort of leakproof at the moment. I keep meaning to get somebody in for estimates, but given the current housing market, I'm not sure a new bath would pay anything back at resale. 5. Did I mention I'm lazy? No SWMBO here as a motivator, and it is amazing what I can put up without noticing. Stuff has to be really nasty before I get so grossed out that I fix it.
-- aem sends...
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re: "Stuff has to be really nasty before I get so grossed out that I fix it."
I hear ya!
Try this:
Clean out the closet and look in the gaping hole in the wall.
Between what's hidden in the closet itself and whatever's growing behind the tub (especially with bad grout) I'm pretty sure you'll find something "really nasty." ;-)
Besides, isn't a tub color that's "somewhere between pepto-bismol and dentures" nasty enough? ;-)
P.S. I lived with pink fixtures and tiles for way too many years before I got up the courage to tackle the job. I learned a lot, but it was also a lot of work.
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On 1/31/2010 1:27 PM, Prof Wonmug wrote:

Drano works fine but contains caustic and others contain sulfuric acid and either in the eye could cause a severe burn, even blindness so you just have to be careful. I've had to replace several drains and they are fragile and corrode easily. I replace with PVC. I'd prefer not to open the trap as it might eventually break.
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Prof Wonmug wrote:

The commercial products are made to dissolve hair fairly quickly. If there's not much hair, you can probably do without them.
The sink drains in my kitchen and bathroom often get slow, but it has been 20 years since I removed a trap. A plunger will loosen enough of the slime to speed up a drain, but a pan of boiling water will keep a drain trouble-free for more weeks.
In the bathroom, the slime is likely to come from the fats in hand soap, shaving cream, and shampoo. If I weren't satisfied with boiling water alone, I'd let baking soda stand in the drain because it tends to make those fats water soluble. Washing soda would be better, but I don't have any on hand.
Vinegar and baking soda is a popular remedy, but plain baking soda is probably better. The vinegar would change some of the baking soda to sodium acetate, which doesn't seem useful in a slimy drain.
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On 01/31/2010 01:27 PM, Prof Wonmug wrote:

The drain is probable old and too small if you do this often. Better to replace the trap and drain pipe at least to the wall elbow with PVC.If you have lead piping in the wall, replace it all. I've had this same problem in an old house and used a garden hose to blow out the drain. In this house with newer 2" PVC I never get a clog.
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There are a few steps to take BEFORE removing the trap. First, plug up the overflow with a wet rag, run some hot water, and use a good plunger (the kind with a large bulb on it) with 5-10 aggressive plunges. That should work 90% of the time. If that doesn't work, run a snake down the drain and give that a a few twirls.
The person(s) with long hair needs to put a fine screen over the drain, then clean the strainer after each use. Homes with short-hair (or bald) people do not get hair clogs at all.
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