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Unclogging Winter Springs
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How to do-it-yourself instructional on freeing a clogged drain using a plunger and snake with discussion on the use of a liquid drain opener.

Today on Repairs101 I’ve got a sink that won’t drain and if you’re watching I imagine you’ve got one, too. I’ll take you through your options and show what you can do. I allow the washer to vent into the sink which allows for a build-up of what is just “dryer-lint” that never made it to the dryer. First line of defence is a plunger. Get a good seal. The plunger is the first line of defence because it’s the most “eco-friendly” choice: use hydraulic pressure to drive through the blockage. Second time trying this and it’s not working move to something stronger. This is my snake, inexpensive manual snake that you’ll find at any good hardware store. Reason I’m wearing gloves to keep me from coming into contact with the horrible places this little fellow has been. I’m going to unwind and drop it. It’s nothing but a spring that’s been unwound a bit. It’s going to be clear in a few hours. Clear enough that I don’t have to bucket it all outside. I’m just going to wait. That’s often the best thing you can do with home plumbing. If you can, apply the 24 hour rule which is come back 24 hours later: often organic matter will break down in water in that period of time and clear itself. This isn’t going to but it will seep. I’ve got a Rubbermaid storage bin lid and I’m going to use that to catch the water. Often you undo these by hand. You don’t even need a wrench. A lot of options to open that elbow joint. These Channellocks might be overkill. An ordinary pair that you find in anybody’s kitchen drawer is all you need. Pipe wrench but they are cumbersome and might damage plastic pipes. There is a new style of pipe wrench. That would be very effective but kind of expensive. I recommend you go with the medium sized Channellocks. If all you’ve got is a chain wrench or locking chain wrench this will do the job but you’re going to have to be careful, as with pipe wrench — you’re dealing with plastics and they don’t take a lot. The manufacturer was kind enough to let us know what it is. “Slip and Lock Nut Wrench” I’ve had a lot of use for this in boat building. I use it on plastic “through-hull” fittings. It’s a wide jawed adjustable wrench. Very light duty tool. Nice and light you’re not as likely to slip and damage a new boat when you’re putting in thru-hulls. I’m wearing my respirator with the organic cartridges. Although this isn’t a toilet outlet it is connected to all the other toilet outlets in the neighbourhood and the smell coming out of it is ferocious. You’re going to want to ventilate the room well and wear a respirator. To my surprise the elbow is clear. The problem is downstream. Before you do anything else you need to shove a rag to plug that hole because the sewage gas is coming up because there’s no water trap to stop it. You’ve got to get something in there fast. I’ve got my mask on, I’ve got my gloves on. First thing is back off that nut. I’m going in with the snake. I’m going to use the crank. It’s very crude but it works: it allows you to spin. tighten that thumbscrew and the S-turn in the metal allows you to crank then you back it off and feed some more in. It’s going a lot further. That is the end. All in but this one foot you see in my hand. I’m going to put my catch-basin here again and slowly pull it out and clean it off. I’ve got my mask on, my gloves on. I’ve got a couple of wet rags and my plastic bag ready to receive the snake. Pulling this thing out and feeding it into the bag, cleaning it. This black organic matter, that’s what I’m going to avoid coming in contact with and try and catch it all with the rag. Seeing some schmere inside the plastic bag I’m glad I’m using a plastic bag clearly the rag isn’t getting it all. I’ll put it with the rag and everything in the bag, get this plug back in and get organized to put that water trap back in. You want a nice seat on this seal. Then let this thing pull it down into it. Hopefully that’s going to hold. Hand tight is generally tight enough and hand tight on top. This is the critical area here that’s going to leak if we have a leak. I’ll leave my catch-basin and get some water in it. I don’t know that it’s running properly but I do know that the trap is full of water the smell can’t come from the sewer I can take this dam thing off. It’s not over yet, but I’ll tell you this: if it doesn’t work I’m going to pour Drano down there. That’s last line of defence. You might try a product like Drano Max Gel. I’ve had a lot of success with this in other areas of the house. It’s a great product I just wanted to suggest that when you’re trying to decide whether or not to use a product like that: consider the fact that the water you’re pouring it into is indirectly the same water you’re drinking. Sounds like it’s going to require more plunging. Eventually I did break down and clean the sink. Kind of.

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