Intro: Vertical Drain Cleaner
Have a pipe filled with stuff such as pine needles and don't want to flush out the drain with so much water you'll flood something? Some people may use a sewer snake, but I felt that there was just too much of a blockage and didn't want the snake to push any through the pipe. I built this wooden tool to remove pine needles and other debris from an outdoor downspout drain to minimize the amount of water needed to avoid water leaking into my basement. It's basically a set of grabbing jaws sized to fit the pipe and operated with strings. The second picture shows the debris I removed bit by bit from the drain. This worked well for my 3" pipe seen in the background.
Step 1: Overall Appearance
It's about 6.5' long and composed of lattice stripping attached together with the jaws at one end. You can see the two strings - one to open the jaws and the other to close them. Thin wire can be used in place of the strings.
Step 2: Jaws Construction
1) Take three pieces of 1.5" lattice stripping 6.5' long and cut a point at one end that is 6" long. You can bind the stripping together with screws, piece of coathanger wire, etc. I used wood glue and it didn't hold up in the wet pipe. Drill a hole through the middle stripping about 1.5" or so from the pointed end. You can see the string going through the hole in the left picture.
2) Take another piece of stripping and cut the two sides of the jaw using the pattern in the third picture. Cut a small block of wood (or three small pieces of stripping) - this serves as a spacer between the side jaw pieces. You can see the block in the second picture.
3) Using the jaw diagram as a guide, drill holes in the indicated places. Also drill a hole in the wooden block. Also drill a second hole in the block perpendicular to the first hole.
4) As shown in the second picture, attach the jaw sides and block using three pieces of coat hanger wire. You could use screws, but I'm afraid they'll come loose as the wood gets wet.
5) Take one long piece of string (or thin wire) and run it through the bottom of the jaw (the stripping side) and through a hole in the block, following by tying a knot above the block. This string will be used to close the jaw.
6) Take another piece of string and tie it around the block using the other hole. This string is used to open the jaw.
Step 3: Eyes for Strings
1) About halfway down the stripping, attach two small eyes to the middle stripping. The stripping should be bound securely at this location to prevent the screws from splitting the wood.
2) Run the string from the bottom of the jaw through the eye on the same side. Do the same for the other string that is tied to the block.
3) To operate, put the tool into the pipe with the jaws closed. Above the obstruction, open the jaw by pulling the appropriate string and push the jaw into the obstruction. Pull on the other string gently to close the jaw and pull the debris out. With patience and perseverance, you'll be removing a lot of debris that you should reach a point where the remaining debris can be flushed out.