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Monday, March 3, 2008

Slow Drain

One of the qualities of the virtuous wife in Provers that we aspire to as women of the Word is 'capable'. I think we should be able to do some simple repair jobs, understand basic maintenance on our vehicles, and in general be able to handle the little things that need doing when our husbands are not available. So I thought I'd share some of what I know in hopes that others would do the same and we can all learn a little!

A Slow Drain (or completely stopped-up sink)
If the water in your sink is starting to drain very slowly or it is completely void of movement, often the simplest solution is the one that works. There is a part of the piping called a 'trap' or 'U-bend'. Basically it is the part of the pipe that is bent. This serves not only to 'trap' things that might go down accidentally (like your wedding ring!) but also to prevent sewer gas from coming back up into your house. As a result, there is always water in this section of pipe and you will need a pan or bucket to catch the water.

It is best to get the water to drain first if you can, even if you must use a plunger (I have one reserved for sink use) but if you can't, it is OK. Just make sure you have a container large enough to hold the amount of water in your sink under the trap when you remove it. It is also best to avoid the chemicals they sell to pour down a drain because they are so toxic. They will also kill the bacteria in your septic tank, and a septic tank does not work properly without bacteria.

1. Loosen the trap from the pipes at both ends. It will have a large nut-like attachment of some kind that threads and locks to the pipes. If you have copper piping, you may need to use wrenches to loosen it. Plastic pipes usually have a wing nut type of attachment that allow for leverage to turn the nut without any tools. You'll want to loosen one side a little, then the other side a little. If you completely loosen just one side, you will put pressure on the pipe. Try to hold the trap in place until you have it all the way freed so that water does not start to spray out the side into your face!

2. When the trap is free, pull it down and allow any water to drain into your container. Leave it there to catch the drips that will come with draining.

3. Take your trap out to somewhere with good light and check inside. In my case, someone had stuffed Popsicle sticks and straws down the drain. I will have to check into that! Clean out anything that is stuck in the trap and wash it well with dish soap. Washing it with a soap (which is a base) breaks the grease surface which will cling to any food particles or oils that go down the drain with washing dishes. It will keep your trap clean longer.

4. Before re-attaching, use a flashlight to check in the pipe for any other obstructions. Sometimes tall things will stack up above the trap (like straws!). Clean out anything you find and wipe your connections dry. * One exception to this would be some old pipes that use a never-seize or zinc to keep the connections from rusting together. If there is a grey 'slime' on your pipes and connectors, leave it there. Just gently pat dry any water spots.

5. Hold the trap in place while tightening the nuts, again doing a little on each side until both are tight. Have a bucket ready under your trap and try the connection by running water in the sink. There should be no leaks. If you have leaks, check that your nuts are properly tightened and not loose or cross-threaded.

6. It is obviously best to avoid anything going down the drain, but it is simply not always possible. Even tiny bits of food will stick together and create an obstruction. If you keep your trap cleaned it will help to prevent a larger mass forming down the line, where a snake will be needed and the headache of fixing it will be much greater!

Ta-da! You just cleaned that sink trap by yourself. You are a very capable wife.

1 comment:

a soldier's wife said...

very helpful to me, especially at this time in our lives :) thanks!