FALL HOME IMPROVEMENT TAB Start at top to solve sink, tub, drain clogs
By James and Morris Carey
For AP Weekly Features
Drains that have mechanisms to open and close them are all pretty much alike. Whether in a bathroom sink or a tub, somewhere near the inlet (or at it), there is a plug that prevents water from escaping from the fixture when it is properly positioned. When the plug is in the closed position, you can fill the sink or tub with water, but with built-in drain stoppers, that plug causes most clogs.
Here's why: A sink or a tub handles three elements when doing its job -- soap, water and a person (or part of a person). The person part usually is covered with one or more of the following: loose hair, cosmetic oils, hair spray, body lotion, dead skin, and dirt.
During the scrub-down, the soap blends with the aforementioned uglies to create a messy paste. This gunk ends up traveling down the drain. The only contraption that exists between the inside of the fixture and the entrance to the city sewer plant is the built-in stopper. It is the one and only moving part in the system and is a major culprit when it comes to latching and clogging. There is no other sewer part that latches onto this gunk more quickly than that stopper.
Often when a clog occurs, our first thoughts turn to grabbing the drain cleaner. Don't! A drain cleaner is all right to use when a p-trap is clogged (the p-trap is the curved device located just beneath the drain inlet in every plumbing fixture). But, most clogs in sinks and tubs occur above the p-trap at the built-in stopper.
Unfortunately, this can be dangerous, difficult and time consuming -- especially with bathtubs. Built-in stoppers are irregular in shape and therefore are really good at catching grease-filled, gunk-inundated hair. These are elements that will cause a sink to clog more quickly than anything else.
Tub drains are a little more complicated and often require the removal of two screws at the overflow followed by the removal of a piece or two of operating linkage. Pop-up stopper systems in tubs are slightly more complicated than the ones with the hidden stopper (plunger system). But, with a little patience, a screwdriver and some ingenuity, you just might find this one worth doing yourself.