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Clogged Kitchen Drain : Amateur Rushes in When Plumber Wants Overtime

January 11, 1987|LOUIS HILL | Hill is a Cypress-based free-lance writer. and

Every homeowner knows that a house is always in need of repairs. A sink clogs up, a water faucet begins to drip, a patio screen door develops a rip, a TV antenna breaks loose or the roof begins to leak.

But the homeowner never despairs. In any hardware store he will find the answer to every problem that has confronted the homeowner since he first moved into a cave.

The homeowner only has to read the package promises. "Do It Like the Pros Do." No Tools Required," "Just Twist and Snap," "Save Hundreds of Dollars in Needless Charges, " "You Too Can Be an Expert in Seconds."

My introduction to the do-it-yourself mania occurred on a Sunday. Most plumbing problems occur on Saturday or Sunday. These are known as overtime days.

'I've Tried Everything'

My wife caught me as I was polishing my golf shoes.

"The kitchen sink is clogged up. I've tried everything."

"Even Plumber's Pal?"

She nodded and asked, "Shall I call a plumber?"

"I put down my golf shoes with a sigh. "On Sunday?"

"I can't work in the kitchen."

"I'll look at it."

I did look at it. The look had no effect. Neither did that rare tool known as the "plumber's friend."

Next, I bought a "snake." The idea is to insert the tool into a drain and turn the wire. It will push through the stoppage and free the drain. I tried it.

Neighborly Advice

"Did you get it, dear?" my wife asked.

"It's too short."

"Shall I call a plumber now?"

"Never."

My next step was to ask my neighbor, who was watering the block wall fence if he had a longer snake. He didn't.

But he volunteered, "What I do is run my hose down the drain from the end of the house. Yours is right there. Just put a hose in and turn it on. Works every time."

Stucco Fell Off

Our outside drain pipe had been neatly stuccoed over by the home builders. When I turned the plug, large chunks of stucco fell off. That would require a stucco repair and paint. But the drain pipe was open.

I inserted the garden hose. However, it was too short, so I borrowed my neighbor's. He was through watering the block wall.

"Leave the nozzle on the hose," my neighbor told me. "Gives it more power."

At last the hose was in place and it worked like a charm. The plastic serpent leaped and bucked like the snake had done inside. Shortly thereafter the rumble of clearing debris shook the house. The drain pipe was unclogged!"

"I got it!" I yelled triumphantly.

Hose Stuck in Drain

I began to pull the hose from the drain. It came slithering out until only 30 feet remained inside. No amount of tugging and stretching would free it. It became hopeless.

My wife asked, "Now can I call the plumber?"

"Never," I said grimly. "I'll get it loose."

I didn't get it loose. What I did was desperate. In the final minutes, I stretched the hose as far as I could. Then I cut it. The hose zipped into the drain and disappeared. And the drain was still unclogged.

Plumber Summoned

"Nothing to it," I told my wife.

But two days later the drain clogged again and my wife called the plumber. I was willing.

The plumber climbed onto the roof and inserted a snake into an air vent. "Just a little obstruction," he said when he handed me the bill. "Could be anything."

My neighbor is watering the block wall fence with a new hose. It replaces the one I cut in my initial do-it-yourself effort.

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