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CO2 Drain Cleaner Hack

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A while back, we had a slow running drain that seemed to be permanent.  I came across a product called "Kleer Drain" that uses CO2 cartridges to blast through clogs.  I thought it was worth the attempt, so I picked one up at Home Depot.

Boy, did it work... Not only that, but it made an extremely satisfying "whump" sound that sent me out to the hardware store to pick up more cartridges so I could attack all of our drains, plugged or not.

The problem is, the device also requires a single shot plastic disk that allows pressure to build up before it bursts.  When it does, the resulting explosion is what actually blasts through the clog.  These disks are no where to be found, except from the manufacturer... And they're both pricey and in short supply.

They look like Tyvek, but they're not.  Tyvek doesn't burst under CO2 pressure.  Certain types of paper may work, but when I thought about the work of having to cut all those disks out, I came up with a better solution that seems to work pretty well:
 
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Step 1: How Kleer Drain Works

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I love this device, but it has some flaws.  First is the need for CO2 cartridges.  The Kleer Drain comes with a couple, but if you're like me, you'll use them all up in an hour or two.  Trust me... This thing is fun to use:)  

The same goes for the plastic disks, but they aren't so readily available.  The only place I was able to find them was on the manufacturer's website.  And they cost a gazillion dollars for a half dozen... And they only came with additional cartridges (which cost another half gazillion).

I think the company may be using the inkjet printer profit model... sell the printer at cost and make money on the ink.  I have no problem with that, but I don't want my fun eating up my savings, or discover I don't have the parts I need in an emergency.

Enough commiserating, lets hack a solution!

Just got a Kleer Drain to try and help my 50-year-old cast iron waste pipes last a bit longer. Gonna try this soon.

bfk (author)  piercepresley1 month ago
Hope Tim the Toolman syndrome doesn't bite you. I went through an entire box of cartridges within 2 days making explosions come out of all our drains, just so I could show my buddies how cool it is. Good luck and have fun.
waldosan2 years ago
for some reason i doubt the hospital will hand out used syringes, of course i've never asked so they might.

is there some kind of retail alternative that i could use to find syringes?
bfk (author)  waldosan2 years ago
Here's an update on your concern about hospitals and syringes... Last week, I visited our hospital and spoke with the pharmacist. There was no issue with getting the syringes, but when she asked what size and I told her "12cc", her eyes went wide and she asked, "What in heaven's name are you injecting?"
:)
You may have to visit the CT lab or someplace that uses larger sizes.
bfk (author)  waldosan2 years ago
I suppose there could be some local issue, but if there were no needle, it would be hard to argue not to. Syringes are used for many things other than medical, so no national law that I'm aware of could prevent an organization from passing them on to places other than a landfill. I get most of mine from medical offices (again, I don't require needles, except for my glass syringes, which are difficult to find now anyway). Often, offices toss unused syringes out, for whatever reason. If you're lucky, or know someone, you may end up with a case of them.
Syringes can be bought online. If you don't want to order from a medical supplier, try a hobby or woodworker site... But they can only be used once by medical personnel, so why not ask around and get them for free? Don't forget dentists. They have other great tools that are too worn for their purposes that get recycled as well. Thanks for voicing your concerns and questions. You brought up a good point.
You can get free syringes from a pharmacy (chemist - UK). These are (ostensibly) for dosing children's medication, but we all know better. They're for experiments! They're not huge, but might do the trick.
bfk (author)  The Green Gentleman2 years ago
The diameter needs to be pretty large so the CO2 can exit as fast as possible. That being said, you may be able to squeeze 3, 4, or 5 small syringes through the hole to increase the volume that way.
kill-a-watt2 years ago
Looks like you can ship-to-store for the disks things. Not too pricey, but I prefer your solution anyway:

http://www.homedepot.com/Kleer-Drain/h_d1/N-uhZ5yc1v/R-100083282/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&storeId=10051

Here's some 30 ml ones for sale, probably too big:

http://www.sciplus.com/singleItem.cfm/terms/15976
bfk (author)  kill-a-watt2 years ago
Thank you for the information. My problem is, this thing is so much fun, I'll pull it out and play with it with no plugged drains. I'll go through 6 in no time:)

I discovered the plunger of the syringe works for about 15 shots before it has to be replaced. The force behind it is so great that it eventually breaks the plastic holding it on. I made my own plunger from a dowel and slip it from underneath so the sealed rubber goes toward the top and the pressure pushes it onto the dowel instead of trying to rip it off.

I'll update my instructable with your information and my modification.
snotty2 years ago
Nice device.

My trick for drains is coat hanger wire:
1. Straighten a coat hanger.
2. Use the hanger to pick out and remove hair/crud near the drain's mouth.
3. Jam the hanger down the drain.
4. Turn on the tap to flush away the debris you're about to loosen.
5. Pump the wire in and out while rotating it to scrub away crud.
6. Expound.

This method works every time for me. I think most blockages are near the start of the pipe.
bfk (author)  snotty2 years ago
Thank you for your kind words. Yea, until our loo developed a partial blockage that didn't respond to anything, that's the only method I used too. One additional trick is to store a wire, similar to a coat hanger wire, only made from stainless steel, directly in the toilet's water tank. It's handy, and any drain in the bath can be cleaned at a moment's notice. A small bend at the end of the wire shaped like a "J" will catch and draw hair out in large clumps. A complete loop at the other end allows for a finger to get a good grip on the wire. Thanks for your well developed explanation.
jeffeb32 years ago
Can you use an air compressor instead? Reusable, larger pressures...
bfk (author)  jeffeb32 years ago
Hi Jeff:

Thanks for writing... And an interesting question. I thought about it and the short answer would be "yes"... But:

I don't think it's the volume of the gas that counts as much as the SUDDEN release of pressure, forcing water in the pipe (which is incompressible) past the blockage and ripping it free. Filling a bottle with compressed air would take longer, I'd think than slipping a cartridge into what amounts to be a high-tech plumber's helper. Using an air compressor by itself wouldn't produce the volume of air needed... However, an electric leaf blower might... Hmmm.

Anyway, my CO2 device was powerful enough to clear an issue a plumber couldn't find with a snake (and removing the loo) that had been plagueing us for over a year. I don't know where the blockage was, but it disappeared after one shot with the Kleer Drain. If there are any weak joints in the pipes, higher pressures may open them up and cause bigger problems.

I think a portable compressed air cannon would make a neat Instructable, but it might cost more than the plastic device I got. Besides a strong tank, some type of instant valve would need to be involved so the pressure gets released all at once... Like those they use on Mythbusters for their air cannons. I'll bet a homemade, PVC pipe/CO2 device could be made for a few bucks. The most difficult part I think, would be piercing the cartridge... Maybe someone's already come up with a solution for that.

I bought 20 cartridges online for less than $1 apiece, including shipping. Cheap fun for me and 20... Uh, make that 19... will last me quite a while, even if I shoot one off now and then just for fun or making an Instructable:)

Sorry, I'm an Engineer and short answers aren't part of my DNA... Hope this answered your question.
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