ThreeJars Daily: An Easy DIY Fix That Seriously Saves You Money

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An Easy DIY Fix That Seriously Saves You Money

Photo: TKTK




We know: Fixing a clogged drain is not a fun chore. But doing it yourself will save you a mint on hiring a plumber over your lifetime (at a typical rate of around $75 per visit per year, you’d save $3,000 over 40 years!). So make it one of your New Year resolutions to learn how—it’s easier than you think!

By Nicole DeCoursy

Tools you’ll need: Rubber gloves, old toothbrushes, a screwdriver, plunger, wire coat hanger, petroleum jelly, a bucket, a rag

What to do:
1. Remove the screen or stopper from the drain. This may be as simple as lifting the stopper or loosening screws with a screwdriver and prying the screen up with the tip of the screwdriver. Otherwise, call your local hardware store and ask them how to access the drain in your sink or tub model. (For example, I found that I needed to unscrew a plastic retaining nut around a pivot rod behind the sink pedestal in order to lift out my sink stopper. Phew!)

2. Once you’ve removed the screen or stopper, don the rubber gloves and clear away any hair, soap gunk or mold with old toothbrushes. Yes, this is disgusting. Focus on the money you’re saving.

3. Next, stuff any overflow holes with the rag, and plunge the drain like you mean it. (Pro tip: The rag keeps the pressure that you create by plunging from escaping. You can also apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly to the edge of the plunger to tighten the seal and increase the suction.) When you’re done plunging, run hot water for 5 to 10 minutes to flush out any rogue clog bits. If you’re working on a sink drain, use a bucket to catch the water run-off while the drain is open. Your drain should now be clog-free!

4. If not? Fear not. Enlist the coat hanger: Bend it into a stick shape, leaving a hook at the end, and feed it down the drain, pushing forward until you feel resistance (which should be the clog). Twist and push the hanger, breaking up the clog. Remove it, and flush the pipe with hot water. If feeding the hanger through a tub drain doesn’t do the trick, try removing the overflow plate (below the faucet) and inserting it into the drainpipe there. Replace the drain screen or stopper, and you’re done. Nice work! One note: A plumber would use a sewer snake (a.k.a. plumber’s snake/auger or cable auger), rather than a coat hanger; if you’ve got one, use it. Or if you want, you can purchase one at a hardware store for $25 to $40.

Susannah Felts also writes for Health, Spry,, and other magazines and web sites.


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