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Don’t Let Sluggish Drains Slow You Down


It gradually sneaks up on you. One morning after brushing your teeth, standing water languishes there long after you’ve finished. You stare into this little lagoon, wondering how much this is going to cost. Luckily, most slow-moving drains can be fixed with a few household items and some elbow grease, saving you the hassle and cost of a plumber.

Uncover the Problem

For sinks, showers and tubs, the fix may be as simple as removing the strainer or stopper. Hair gets trapped in these areas, wrapping around stopper bottoms and clinging to strainer holes.

You can remove many stoppers by turning them with your fingertips. Others might need to be detached from the opener mechanism under the sink. For a strainer, remove any screws and gently pry it up with a flat-head screwdriver. Clean any hair and built-up gunk from the stopper or strainer and inside the drain opening.

Next, straighten a wire coat hanger and form a small hook at the end. Snake it down the drain pipe and wiggle it to clear any clogs. You can also buy a barbed plastic drain stick from the hardware store for the same purpose. Once you’ve broken up any clogs, rinse the drain with hot water and see if it flows freely.

Plunger, Please

If you have a stubborn clog, more drastic measures may be needed. For bathroom sinks, block any overflow holes with a wet rag. If the clog is in a double bowl kitchen sink, stop up the drain of the adjacent basin and clamp the flexible drain line under the sink to keep dirty water out of your dishwasher. Fill the sink with enough water to cover a plunger head, then push forcefully up and down on the plunger handle for about a minute, creating sufficient water pressure to dislodge the clog. Remove the plunger from the drain to see how it flows, and repeat the process if necessary.

Plunger, Please

Get Explosive

Get Explosive

When hard-to-reach grime buildup is slowing down your drain, the erupting-volcano combination of baking soda and vinegar can do the trick. First, flush the drain pipe with several cups of boiling water to loosen things up. Next, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, let it sit for five minutes and then add one cup of white vinegar. If you think grease is the culprit – which you should never put down the drain – rinse the drain several times with boiling water to melt down solidified fat.

With a little effort, you can run water down the drain without throwing your money down with it.


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