the dreaded drain clog: a chemical-free, virtually cost-free solution

Until the last few years, I had lived a relatively clog-free existence.  Sure, my sister and I occasionally had to pull a wad of hair out of the shower drain to keep it clear, but that was only once a month or so.  For the past three years, however, my husband and I seem to have grown increasingly hairy—or at least we are shedding an increasing amount; we now unclog our shower drain weekly to avoid standing in more than an inch of water.

When we moved into our current home (closing in on two years ago, now), the plumber who revamped our bathroom suggested that we dump a gallon of vinegar down each drain on a monthly basis.  It’s an all-natural form of plumbing maintenance, he said, clearing out all the grit and grease that collects on the sides of the pipes.  We’ve done that with relative consistency.

Another plumber, out to correct a tub leak, shared that he has given up his regular drain opener in favor of shaking baking soda down the drain before pouring in his vinegar; the extra foaming action works wonders, he says.  We’ve tried that, too, with moderate success.

Somehow, however, we still have clogs.  So we haul out one of those nasty drain-opening chemicals with so many warning labels that you wonder whether your children should ever be allowed to splash in the tub again.  On a monthly basis or so, we subject ourselves and our plumbing to this ordeal.

Recently, upon complaining about yet another increasingly problematic standing-water-in-the-shower situation to my husband, I saw him walk to the kitchen instead of fetching either the vinegar or the drain opener from the hall closet.  Asked what he was doing, he replied, “Well, I noticed that the chemical drain opener we use claims to heat up to melt away greasy clogs, so I figured if heating was all it took, I could accomplish the same thing with water.”  He filled up our teapot and plunked it on the stove to prepare to test his theory.

Surprise of surprises, it worked!  He poured one near-boiling teapot full of water down in the morning and another in the evening, and our shower is running well again.  From now on, I think water will be our go-to clog defender—who would have thought?


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