So my wife (we’re fresh newlyweds) and I rent in NYC’s Manhattan Valley, doing our share to contribute to its gentrification and raise rent prices for the natives. One thing that had been bothering me for a while was that our bathtub/shower drain drained more slowly than the shower sprayed, so by the end of your shower your standing in your used shower water. What’s worse, and this may be unrelated but who knows, every now and then, typically at night, the drain seems to sort of puke up a little nastiness, brown stuff (which I hope is pipe corrosion and not you-know-what).

When we got back from our honeymoon the other day, that drain puke had taken a toll. So I cleaned it (this sounded like a man’s job sort of thing on account of poop potential). After I cleaned it up (thanks, Scrubbin’ Bubbles) I figured I should take a shower and discovered to my chagrin that the drain issue had grown to the point where I knew I had to act. I thought a bit about Drāno commercials, but I didn’t know how the stuff worked, whether it was dense and heavy and just pushed the crap down or if it had some heavy-duty acid kind of power to it. So rather than look it up on Wikipedia to try to gauge its potential efficacy in this situation, I thought out of the box, a little too far as it turned out, filled up the tub a few inches, grabbed the toilet plunger, eyeballed it for undesirable matter, briefly, and proceeded to plunge the hell out of that drain.

But the only thing that had stuff extracted from it was the plunger’s insides. That tub was nasty. Not pretty. Trauma inducing perhaps. And I got stressed fast not just at the gross cleanup job I was facing but because my wife was on her way home and I had minutes either to clean that crap up or try to come up with the least unnerving slash most believable excuse as to why there was a lot of little poop nuggets scattered about the tub. It was not easy nor was it pleasant but I managed to excise the excrement just in time. Had to get creative to clean that without skin contact or poop contact on the various objects I rounded up. I was MacGyver in there, the reason I had to stay in there a while notwithstanding. But hey, come on, the plunger trick might have worked if you don’t think about it retrospectively.

But imagine, which is a worse explanation if she came home too early and discovered the crap, my being stupid enough to have used an old toilet plunger in the bathtub or my having some sort of freak poopy accident while taking a shower while still being relatively young? That’s not how I want to get this marriage rolling. The honeymoon momentum would have instantly vanished. Couldn’t get by saying I had just cleaned my shoes, the brown was too consistent in color and it hadn’t rained and even if I did she knows I only clean my flip flops. And if she saw it, regardless of whether it was mine or the previous tenant’s (we haven’t flooded our toilet since we moved in), it would freak her out about showering and she’d make up her mind about moving to a more expensive neighborhood. I’m not talking about a couple nuggets here. Nope, must clean in time for her own protection, which I did. Like it never happened.

But this made the drain situation worse as now there was presumably some doody mixed in with the hair or whatever in the pipe, galvanizing the clog. Cornered with frustration, rather than just calling the super (I would have done that but I’m still unsure of superintendent tipping etiquette particularly for a job like this), I hit the grocery store and picked out a four dollar bottle of Drāno, the second-most expensive one as I was not confident this would work at all. That clog has history behind it growing stronger every twenty four hours or so. I brought it home, I actually read the directions this time, dumped in the full bottle, waited a half hour while boiling up a big pot of boiling water to dump in subsequently.

Fired up the shower for a test drive and what do you know, the stuff worked. Drāno delivered. It delivered and I want you all to know about it should you ever go down this road as a Drāno doubter. Now the drain throughput can not only keep up with the shower but also with the regular tub faucet thing – which we don’t use, but it’s still good to know and very satisfying. I unveiled it to the missus, she was pleased. I noted it was a good thing to have a real man around; she didn’t disagree. But she did interrogate me last night, half-playfully, as to why I’d just clean the bathroom out of nowhere which to her credit was a good question but I had to shut that interview down.

Now with any luck, she’ll never read this post.

Doug Simmons

3 COMMENTS

  1. Good move with the Draino. Not as effective as the industrial strength stuff (they don’t trust us mere mortals with it) but it will clear things for awhile. Just keep it out of your eyes. Everything else could grow back. It eats any organic material, like hair, and skin. In a tub drain hair and soap residue accumulate in a crosshair section (that keeps things like golf balls from going down the drain) a couple inches below your tub drain. You can usually pick the goop out with a flashlight and long nose pliers. The other trouble area is the internal stopper (not sure if the tub has a lever to allow the tub to fill). That’s a little tricker to pull out and clean but sometimes just toggling it up and down several times will free up the gunk. Not sure why you are getting backflow (gunky looking stuff) but the building may have a venting issue. The vent allows the waste (water-crap, whatever) to flow downhill. In older cast iron and steel pipe, gunk could build up around vent openings and plug it up. You need Roto-Rooter to fix that. I would still check that crosshair in the pipe below the drain as the Draino would not have gotten all of the strands of clinging hair, just the stuff in the trap.

  2. I don’t know what this had to do with mobility, but y’know, I think I’ll give Drano a go next time. I don’t know if it’s my daily showers or husband’s long hair but ours constantly drains slowly. I just hope it doesn’t do a serious number on the septic tank. Oh well, that’s what RidX is for.

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