The Limitations Of Sturdy

RESOLUTION: The problem was in the line from the house to the street. But not roots, simply a narrowing of the 60 year old pipe, combined with the usual confluence of suspects. I asked the plumber what I should do in future. For this situation, drain products do nothing, as the problem was outside. He said next time I could try a gadget that acts like a stent in the pipe, accessing the clog via my outside opening. We shall see. Thank you all for the ideas. Life is returning to normal.

UPDATE: The plumber comes at noon today. At which point I also plan to ask him to give me a five step program to make it more likely I never have to call him again. Thank you all so much for your hints and support. This has been draining. I know, I know. Sorry. Let’s blame all bad puns on stress.

I spent much of the weekend stalking my drains. They’re clogged. All round. I’d try drain cleaner, see brief improvement, and then everything would regress. Finally, in a fit of pioneer spirit, I stalked off to the hardware store and bought a pipe snake.

Again, apparent success. Again, failure, but this time more promising, less abject. I know I should give up the fight but I just don’t want to.

I loathe drain-clearing franchises. Seems that they have no skill, and charge ridiculous amounts just because they have the right equipment. Nor can I assess their performance other than in the outcome. Risky, expensive, business.

On the other hand, I’m not sure how much longer I can stay Sturdy in the face of obdurate drains. I am hoping that if I keep on using Really Big Words to describe the situation I will force surrender, but I fear the Drain Doctors await.

If you don’t mind, I won’t post pictures. I promise, what I’m wearing for all this does not want to see the light of day any more than do my pipes.

Back tomorrow, drains either doctored or conquered. Onward.

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  • Ha!! I usually use copious amounts of Draino with great success but I assume you’ve tried that. Wishing you good luck – no doubt something sinister lurking in the depths!!

  • Oh dear. I’m crossing my fingers for you. And could I suggest that along with the impressive big words, a few well-chosen short ones can occasionally be effective as well. I’m thinking four letters . . . What’s the High WASP perspective on those, given the appropriate situation?

  • Oh the drudgery and sludgeries of life!! I have learned to brush my hair Away from the sink!

    Art by Karena

    I have an amazing Giveaway from the Artisans at Novica. You will love it!

  • Hello Lisa:
    Sadly, we have been there. We sympathise. Enough said.

  • If Drano or another product doesn’t work immediately, I call a company. Not worth wasting my time on, and it’s such a disgusting mess. I feel OK about calling someone to fix it – it’s their job, it’s how they earn their money to live.

  • Ugh. Nothing worse than clogged drains. Courage!

  • What an intriguing title–“The limitations of sturdy.” I understand not wanting a franchise that’s all ad and no skill, but why not call a good plumber?

  • my trick? hot water and some dawn dish soap, then some good plunger action. I usually make my husband do this however, since its always his fault!

  • My sympathies. Our home betrayed us this weekend also. Big mess… Too much water. Simplify, simplify. The time is coming.

  • I can truly say I feel your pain. I have been there and done that, to say “It wasn’t pretty” is an understatement. Sending you good luck thoughts and hopes you were able to, ummm…. clear a path. :)

  • Ugh. Such problems are the bane of my existence. Well, okay, really that’s an exaggeration, but it surely feels that way when I face such problems. But do keep us posted, especially if you win this battle w/out any outside intervention. :-) xoxo

  • I feel your pain. I was, for many many years, chief plumber in my home as well. I was all too grateful to abdicate that title to my very handy-with-tools husband.

  • I really hate to say this. But, if all of the drains are clogged… you can play with the snake all day, it won’t help. The clog is between the house and the sewer. Either a tree root or a BIG clog. Doesn’t matter, you need those over priced, under qualified guys with the correct equipment. It will take them 20 minutes and then you can clean up the toxic waste site if you used Draino. I speak from vast experience: four kids, big old monstrosity of a house and some sort of very bad plumbing karma. I don’t even want to talk about it.

  • Miranda is right. Happened to our family when I was a child. Cost a pretty penny to get the main drain cleared from the house out to the street. (We had a big old house on a big yard.) You need the guys with the heavy equipment. Good luck.

  • You need to find a nice plumber that you trust…
    I know that is easier said than done but it is well worth it.

  • Ah it gives new meaning to going underground for the weekend. You must feel absolutely drained from this clogging experience. Now that I have piped up I shall tap back to my studio

  • My old-fashioned Gentleman Plumber, I’m writing in the UK, recommends Caustic Soda!


  • Oh dear…I would be calling a plumber for sure.
    I cannot abide the mess and distress of sluggish or fully clogged drains.

    Best of luck Lisa!

  • Your dire situation has certainly brought out the wit in your commenters.

    Any cleverness has fled from my mind. I fear retribution from under the sink demons.

    Call a plumber. Ask a friend for a reference. Then go get a mani-pedi.

    xo Jane

  • When I have drain problems I thank my lucky stars that I still rent and I can call Miguel our building maintenance man to fix them. Miguel is an absolute saint and will also come over late at night to deal with mice that my cat catches and then plays with in my living room. I’m not sure what I’d do without Miguel in my life; I don’t deal with gross or potential gross well.

    Good luck!

  • One more thought, my mother would love for me to marry and electrician or a plumber. Doctors, lawyers, and intellectuals are plentiful in my family and fairly useless when it comes to living in old homes. I think I agree with my mother.

  • I second those who suggest that you quit wasting money on stuff from the hardware store and call in a professional.

    It’s one of those things that doesn’t look that hard but seems to require a professional knack.

    IMO a Sturdy Girl should be adapt at changing the insides of a commode and the tires on her car, but beyond that she knows when the battle will not be won.

  • My husband would say Nay to the drain cleaner and yes to a drain snake to clear the way … good luck. I know you won’t let a drain get the best of you!

  • Once in a while, I pour a bottle of Mr.Muscle in the drains and next morning a big amount of hot water, and da dam, good as new.
    I would like to have a reliable plumber in case of emergencies, but have not found a reliable one so far..
    My sympathies for you !

  • Oh my! Courage! And I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.

  • I am in awe that you went out and bought a snake! I finally had the plumber come to do a few things on friday like turn the hot water on in the guest bath {I mean how necessary was that?} and make the master bathroom sinks drain better and it was worth it–so satisfying. But let me know if you are able to master the self-snaking–I agree it seems like such a high price for 5 minutes of mucking around.

    xo Mary Jo

  • I get some industrial strength de-clogger from Home Depot, let standing water drain as fully as possible, to maximize concentration, pour a good amount down the drain, and let stand for several hours. Then I boil water and pour it down. Several gallons. For the toilet I have a neat plunger that seals the opening completely to enable delivery of full force. I also try as much as possible to prevent inappropriate items (including hair) from going down the drain/toilet. I only called a plumber once in eleven years. Then I familiarized myself with the local hardware store and learned to do it myself. Much less expensive.

  • Curious. Do you think the Limitations of Sturdy might fall along the same line as the Strengths of the Male Child[“with facial hair”]-Having-Returned-Home-for-the-Summer?

    Your drains were accustomed to the gentle syncopation of only you, then BAM!

    You said you were going to teach him to cook this summer. But heck, since you bought the snake, how’s Plumbing 101 as a companion piece to Beef Stroganoff.

    I hope the clog hasn’t originated out at the street, that was the cause of what happened here recently at our house, but I’d hate that for you. Instead, I’d love that the many comments here advising boiling water flushes would be just the ticket to ream out those drains of yours.

    Crossed fingers!

  • Try pouring a box of baking soda followed by copious amounts of white vinegar into the drain. Let it sit and gurgle for a good while. Then flush with hot water. Works for me.

  • crossing my fingers it is not a root in a sewer drain somewhere…They do make stuff (or used to) to dissolve those boogers.

  • I went to my hardware store intending to buy a snake (even that would have been less expensive than a plumber), but they told me that I should try the plunger that seals the drain/toilet opening completely first. It delivers much more pressure than the standard plungers which leak air. It worked great for me and is much less awkward than a snake.

  • Love the name snake!drain rods do quite a good job here well so my hb says!

    We have great plumbers in this isolated part of the world,they would soon be out of work as word of mouth spreads fast,also we have great hefty farmers on hand.

    Good luck with the drains. Ida

  • I hope this worked out well. I must second Miranda’s suggestion that the block could be between house an sewer, with a tree root or other obstruction impacting drainage. We experienced this at my house in 2005 — professional the house to sewer snaking revealed tree roots. We removed the tree. No more drainage issues.

  • Do you have filters on your shower drains? Hair is amazingly tough when it gets all bunched up in a drain with shampoo or conditioner.

    Dental floss should NEVER be flushed!

    It’s gross to clean the little strainer things out, but it’s much less expensive than the plumber.

    The stoppers on a couple of my tubs are history so stuff goes down the drain easily. I have quit buying shampoo bottles where the cap can be removed from the bottle because I had some bad experiences with those going down the drain.

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