In the never ending saga of household mysteries like “What does that light switch control?”, “Why is there no outlet on that wall?” and “Why do I have better cell service in my closet?” I would like to add one more: “What lurks below the shower drain?”
There seems to be some cosmic inequity in my home.
How is it that the drain below my kitchen sink is the busiest in the house, yet it never blocks (though I bet I have just jinked it.)
True enough, I have been very conscientious about not pouring oils down the drain. I’ve strained out the solids from the stew-like remains of dishes that didn’t quite make the cut. And there is still the occasional leaf, bean, seed or gluten-free something or other that escapes on me, but yet that drain never clogs.
The shower drain doesn’t get nearly the same amount of activity. So then why do I find myself in almost-shin-deep water when I shower? My bathtub drain seems to be having issues.
The drain hasn’t really been able to keep up with the output of my low-flow shower head. After finishing a shower, I would have time to towel off, apply my moisturizer and anti-perspirant, get dressed, have a leisurely breakfast and say goodbye to the cat by the time the water had completely evacuated and begun its trajectory to the water purification plant.
When I put the question of possible causes to my panel of friends and family, one member of my inner circle was very quick to point out “It can’t be your hair!”… maybe too quick.
As the proud recipient of the male pattern baldness gene, that was indeed the first factor I eliminated from my detective’s assumption list.
Could it be Ivy the Wonder Cat’s hair? Considering how her hair follows me around even after a thorough vacuuming, it is indeed a possibility, but the reality is that a bathtub is the last place she would play given her shrieks when she gets even slightly wet.
Could Ivy have dropped a tiny toy down the drain? Possibly, but as far as I can tell, the friends are all present and accounted for.
I wondered if it was a cheaper soap I was using a while back, one that seemed to create a lot of soap residue. Perhaps.
The problem with the shower drain is that it is not like the other sinks in the house, where you just need to crawl under, grab a wrench, loosen the nuts that hold the pipe in place, pull out the pipe, clear it out, put the pipe back into place and secure into place by tightening the nuts. (By the way, I made that sound considerably easier than it is, so just be forewarned).
There is no easy access to the network under the drain, so it’s like a whole parallel Marvel universe could be happening under there and I really wouldn’t know it.
To try to remedy the slow drain situation, I have tried the hot water, vinegar and baking soda trick, which worked to a point, but with limited long term improvement.
On my last trip to the hardware store, I ventured to the drain cleaner section. Without really knowing what the clog contained, it was difficult to know which product would be the right cure. But what I did know was that some of those products would crank up my sense of environmental guilt.
A few days later, my toilet was experiencing some indigestion from a modest amount of bathroom tissue. Yes, that’s progress for you, a low-flush toilet that needs to be flushed repeatedly to avoid blocking. Is it any wonder that environmental guilt follows me like a shadow these days?
In the defense of low-flush toilets, I believe this one is an early generation model. I have two others in the house of different makes and models that work really well.
On the bright side, since the installation of this particular throne, I have had a lot of practice with the plunger and seem to be getting quite talented with it.
Maybe a plunger workout is what the drain needed. Even though I didn’t have a regulation drain plunger, I figured it was worth a try anyway with the one I used for the commode.
(Etymological note: I searched and searched for the correct verb to mean “using a plunger” but to no avail so I shall use “plunge” in quotations marks… you’ll know what I mean)
I “plunged”… No change.
I “plunged” again … No change yet.
But once I concentrated, recalling some bureaucratic nightmares I had recently encountered, I tapped into my inner rage, in Incredible Hulk style, and was able to “plunge” my way to drain freedom.
As I ran the water, I noticed that it wasn’t accumulating at the rate that it was previously. Plus, as soon as I turned off the water I could see that little clockwise water swirl that I hadn’t seen in ages (which incidentally, for your next trivia challenge game, it actually has a name: the Coriolis effect).
By some stroke of divine intervention, by the time I had finished toweling off, the tub water was completely gone.
As the proud recipient of the worry gene, I ran downstairs for a quick home inspection to ensure I didn’t suddenly have weepy walls or a water logged catnip toy falling through the ceiling. All was good. And to be 100% sure, I checked the next day…. And the day after that.
If there’s one thing that 18 years of home ownership has taught me it is that home repairs are a little like a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon. You are presented with a challenge, very little information, a tool box of products and a strong desire for success. And if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.
With time, patience and persistence, the successful completion of minor home repairs is well within our reach. Although I still don’t know what lurks below the shower drain, and I probably never will.
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Have a great day,