Tackling Clogged Drains

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I guarantee that one day you will have to deal with a stopped up drain.  Whether in the kitchen the bath or the toilet…it’s inevitable as death and taxes.  The other given is that you will already be busy doing something else when this emergency occurs.  Here are some helpful techniques for tackling these various problems.

zipitEASY CLOGS – So your drain is working but it’s really going slow.  Not fully stopped up (yet) but well on its way.  I found out about this clever little device from one of my landlord friends and he says that it saves him tons of headaches and money too.  He even gives one to every renter at his houses.  It’s a Zip-It.  No not the Austin Powers version or the one you’d love to tell your wife… it’s a simple flexible plastic wand with hooks or barbs on the sides.  Stuff this baby down your drain and pull out all kinds of nasty stuff.  It works great on showers and bathroom sinks where a lot of hair builds up and causes you problems.  This thing is super cheap and so easy to use even you kids could handle it!


Toilet AugerTHE TOILET –With the amount of crap that flows out of Washington these days, even President Obama is going to have problems in this area.  Obviously your first plan of attack has to be the good ole plunger.  A word of caution here – make sure you have a good seal and no trapped air bubbles under the plunger when you give it a shot.  Lesson learned is that the murky water can just as easily come back at you versus moving downward so don’t get too crazy “using the Force Luke”.  Assuming that you’re still having problems then its on to Plan B – the toilet auger.  Slightly harder to use, but still at the beginner level and usable by most novices.  This is a hand-held flexible metal coil snake device with a built in hook to navigate the toilet’s “S” drain.    Simply feed the auger end down into the toilet drain and using the handle rod, push the flexible cable auger up into the drain trap – all the way.  Now just turn the handle while SLOWLY pulling the auger back out.  Repeat as necessary.  If you have succeeded in clearing the drain, you will quickly notice the water level drop in the bowl.  A final word of advice for toilet clogs.  Consider shutting the water valve off to avoid putting too much water into the already clogged toilet bowl and causing it to overflow onto the floor.  If you need more water to test or flush the toilet try using a bucket or pail filled at the sink or shower where you can control the amount being dumped into the bowl.  

HEAVY CLOG OR MAIN – I sincerely hope you never get to this point in dealing with drain issues.  At this point you are going into unchartered territory and prayer is always an option.  I must first say that I have never had any luck using the various chemicals like Liquid Plumber.  Not bashing them or saying they won’t work, just when ever I’ve had a major back up, these things are like spitting into the wind.  For these major clogs you have two basic choices:

1 – CALL THE PLUMBER - He’s a professional for a reason.  If you have little to no mechanical ability and plenty of money, this is the choice for you.  This will cost you upwards of $200 per visit.  Stop reading here, congratulations you are done.

auger2 – USE A SEWER SNAKE – These are the larger and longer version of the toilet auger.  They can be 10’, 25’ 50’ or longer metal cable augers.  Some are hand driven and others use your drill motor or have their own electric drive motor.  The motorized ones are much more expensive and can damage your pipes if you are not careful.  If order to use these snakes you will need to pull some plumbing or pipes out from under your sink to allow access to the 1-1/2” or 2” drain line.auger2








CLOG HOG - There is now a third choice which I am happy to say works really well and is REALLY easy to use too.  It’s called a Clog Hog – or a sewer jetter.  This product is so so easy to use and is not that expensive either.  Quite simply it’s an extension hose for your Power Washer with a special nozzle for cutting through clogs and debris in your pipes.  There are specially made nozzles or jets that face backwards and forwards.  One set of jets actually pulls the hose through your pipes while the others punch through the clog.  By running this hose back and forth through your pipes while pulling your pressure washers wand trigger, you can clean your pipes quickly and easily.  This comes in 50’ and 100’ sections depending on your needs. 



One helpful hint for using this device – wrap a piece of tape around the hose about 5’ from the nozzle end.  When you are pulling the hose out of the pipe and see this tape you know to stop hitting the washer trigger or those backwards facing jets are going to blast you in the face with whatever is in the pipes.  So use eye protection - Lesson learned the hard way folks. 




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Super Easy Toilet Clog Fix

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toilet boy cute babyAs a follow up to a prior article on unclogging drains, I wanted to share this simple method for clearing plugged toilets. Now I’ve taken a lot of crap over the years about this topic, and I wish somebody had just told me about this fix 20 years ago. From a very early age both of my boys have had “issues” using the toilet. One believes there is no such thing as using too much toilet paper, and the other must have a colon shaped like a Pringles can – OMG. And the only thing that has changed over the years is they are now older, bigger, and still being a pain in the commode. Now on to the easiest fix you’ll ever find…

Kids, Cats and the Toilet Paper Roll

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At one point during a party to watch NFL football on TV, one of my over-educated friends pointed out that he had “fixed” the toilet paper roll in our guest bathroom.  Evidently our TP roll was on backwards and (obviously) it should always unroll over the top, etc….  I quickly pointed out that the error of his ways regarding the installation was the simply because he didn’t have any children – or cats.  I’ve already raised my kids and numerous cats along the way too.  Now if your house is like mine, both cats and kids have an uncanny knack for spinning the toilet paper off the roll!

How to Build and Use a Water Level

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Plumb BobI had to lay some buried drain lines on my property to address problems where water was pooling and causing mud holes. Once I had dug the trenches my next problem was to figure out how to accurately measure the slope of the drain lines to ensure the water would go where I wanted.  I’m basically too cheap to buy a laser level or a transit; and too inept to use a string level with any accuracy.  So I decided to build a simple water level to make sure my drain lines were right.  Here's how I did it......

Oil Changes Made Easy - Really!

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Auto RepairOver the years I have bought a ton of accessories or gizmos for my cars, trucks and motorcycles. All of them were absolutely essential (or so I told my wife). So for those of you who happen to do your own oil changes, I have the best device you can ever own to make the job easier; faster; and best of all cleaner too. This unique item has made oil changes a snap for me and I will never own another car without one. Let me show you how it works…..

Treating Back Pain at Home

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back massageFor a long time now I have suffered from occasional lower back pain. Lifting heavy loads; twisting; and basic over exertion have all taken their toll on my back. Sometimes it’s even comical (though still painful). Like the time I was reaching for the toilet paper and bam, out goes the old man’s back. Seriously, what sadistic person mounts the roll behind you on the wall at shoulder height? If your spouse comes to help you in this position, you really know their love will last a lifetime. So here is how I fix my own back pains at home…

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