Don’t find yourself trapped with slow-draining sink

Q:The water only runs very slowly out of my bathroom sink. I’ve tried a plunger and baking soda and vinegar but the water still only trickles out. Help.

A:If the baking soda and vinegar didn’t clear the drain, you probably have a lot of hair and sludge accumulated in the trap. The trap is the goose-necked pipes under the sink. The trap holds water to prevent sewer gases from backing up into the bath. It is also a great place for sludge from soap and toothpaste and hair to glob together. Look under the sink. There is a straight drainpipe running from the sink drain to a "U" shaped pipe. This pipe then fits into another "J" shaped one that leads to the main drain in the wall or another "U" shaped one that goes to the floor. The pipes are held together with large nuts that are normally only hand tightened.

You should be able to take the pipes apart with just your hand, but a little more persuasion may be needed from an adjustable wrench or large pliers. Spread a drop cloth or some rags and a pail under the trap to catch the water in the pipes and take the pipes apart. What you will probably find is best described as black gunk and hair lodged in the pipe. Clean the pipes out and reassemble. If this doesn’t do the trick and get things flowing again, you’ll have to resort to cleaning the drain farther down the pipe. This requires a sewer snake, a metal cable that you force through the drain, rotating it to break up any clogs. Take the trap apart again and force the snake into the main drain. Borrow one from a neighbor, rent one or buy one. A 25-footer won’t break the bank. You don’t need a powered drain auger.

It’s not a bad idea to treat your drains once a month with your baking soda and vinegar wash. Put a half-cup of baking soda down the drain and add a cup of hot vinegar. After the foaming stops, pour down a pan of hot water. Good luck.

Q:I only use the leafs in my drop leaf dining table once in a while — like at holiday time when we have company. It’s a real struggle to get the table open to put the extensions in. The sliding parts of the table are wood. What can I do to make the job easier?


A:Open the table and clean up wood parts that slide against each other. There are several different ways the sliding parts can be made. Lubricate the faces that slide against each other with some paraffin wax. You can usually find it at the grocery store in the canning aisle. Paraffin is also great for rubbing on the metal tables of your power tools to make materials slide easier on them and protect the surfaces from rust. It doesn’t stain wood. And it’s cheap.

If you have a question or comment, send to About the House, 18 First Ave. S.E., Rochester MN 55904. Or e-mail questions to Jerry Reising at You also may call 289-7864.

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