Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Taking the Plunge
I have long hair. Always have (well, except that time when my former sister-in-law hacked off ten inches instead of six or seven), too. As a result, my shower gets backed up frequently. Not that I'm losing huge amounts of hair, but after a while it adds up. It's not the most pleasant thing to talk about, but it's a fact of life.
In any case, my husband and I were buying a lot of Draino to clear the shower drain. I hate using that stuff. Not only is it an added expense, but it is the ultimate in toxic household products. The fumes, the long cautionary label -- all bad things. Ick. Then again, what's my alternative? Standing in a few inches of tepid shower water? No thanks. The Draino purchase seemed like a must.
That was until I read an article in an issue of Real Simple years ago. It was full of tips from pros about ways people could save money on home repairs. One of the professionals in the article was a plumber and he said something to the effect that most people overlook the plunger as an effective plumbing tool. He said that a lot of the homes he'd visited that requested drain clearing sometimes only needed the use of a plunger. Most people think plungers are just for the toilet, but they can be used on any drain. Could it work in the shower? I wondered. So, I shared the article with the husband and we tried it on the shower drain. Sure enough, after some work, the drain bubbled and worked like a charm.
Seeing as I didn't want to use the toilet plunger for all the other drains (cross-contamination, right? Maybe I'm overly sensitive, who knows), I went and bought a plunger for a couple bucks for all my non-toilet drains. Ever since, I've used that plunger for not only the shower drain, but the bathroom sink and the kitchen sink. In fact, I used it the other day when a bunch of spaghetti plugged up my now-broken kitchen disposal.
One disclaimer: the plunger doesn't work every time. Once in a great while, we still need to buy the stinky Draino (though I've heard of some more natural drain cleaners -- I need to do some research). But instead of regularly buying it like we used to, we only use it a couple times a year or so. The key is staying on top of the drains, particularly in the shower. If my drain seems to be going a little slower than I'd like, I grab my non-toilet plunger, work at the drain for a little bit, and voila! it drains as good as new.
Skip the toxic chemicals. Stop before you call the plumber. Try the plunger. It may be just the answer to your plumbing problems.