Introduction: How to Clear a Blocked Drain. Eco-friendly Method.
I came up with this idea on a hunch. Feeling pleased with how well it worked, I decided to share the idea with an appreciative world. My feelings of cleverness quickly evaporated when, in the middle of writing this, my first 'Instructable', I did a search for "drain" on the website. I found that my 'discovery' wasn't so original after all - particularly with respect to the previously-posted uses of cable ties for the same task... bummer! At least all my materials are environmentally friendly!
Anyway, the materials required for MY method on this subject are as follows;
1. A blocked or slow draining sink, basin, bath etc,
2. A disposable skewer (the wooden/bamboo type used for cooking kebabs etc),
3. One or two paper kitchen towels, and
4. Maybe a sharp knife.
Step 1: Situation
I've learned from previous experiences of clearing blocked drains, generally by dismantling the plumbing, that the problem is generally due to a buildup of unrecognizable mess that has congealed onto bits of hair caught on the drain hardware. The arrow in the first picture points to a hair buildup hanging off the drain's 'grate'. Tweezers, pins, pliers etc. have been generally unhelpful in pulling the hair out of the drain.
Step 2: Transform the Skewer.
Let's get started. Break off the tip of your skewer to leave a splintery end. Keep the skewer as long as possible (break off only a small portion). I use a pair of pliers to get some leverage on the wood.
Step 3: The Splintered Skewer
If necessary, use a sharp blade to 'feather' the end of the skewer - make it more splintery. Don't cut yourself with the blade!
Step 4: Fishing.
This part is quite exciting!
Holding the skewer by the other end, poke the broken end down into the drain hole. Feel around in there for soft lumpy bits then twirl the skewer. The hair and gunk will catch in the skewer splinters - you'll feel some resistance when it happens. Carefully remove the skewer and you'll see a length of hairy muck on the end of it. Pull it out and wipe the gunk off onto the paper towel.
Step 5: Keep Going...
Repeat the process - insert, feel, twist, extract, wipe. Keep going back until no more soft spots can be discovered.
Scrape down the sides of the grate and pipe until no more suspicious lumps and bumps can be felt.
The picture shows a length of the gunk - yecch! (Click on the photo then zoom-in for a closer look - yum:) Collect it on the paper towel.
I find it somehow satisfying to see how much of this can be removed from the drain.
When the supply of drainpipe mess is exhausted, give the drain a rinse with hot water - and be impressed with how well it flows away. What fun.
Step 6: Educate Your Household.
Show your family - especially those with long hair - what you have extracted from the sink hole. It is sure to impress! Maybe they will make more of an effort to keep their hair out of the drain. (Good luck - this doesn't seem to work with my wife and daughter.)