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.
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.
email@example.com (Doug Miller) wrote in
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.
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."
How could the snake clean the drain if there was nothing for the snake
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.
re: "There was some gooey stuff that reduced the effective size of the
...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.
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
re: "Stuff has to be really nasty before I get so grossed out that I
I hear ya!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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