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November 29, 2006

A Small and Disturbing Moment in Home Maintenance

I snaked one of the bathroom drains.

I may never. Stop. Screaming.

I mean, honestly. Hideous monsters must be shedding into our sinks, because what came out of that drain had nothing to do with any of the humans who live here. I doubt it was even mammalian.

To reiterate: Gaaaaaaaah.

The tub drain needs snaking, too.

Somebody hold me.

Posted by john at November 29, 2006 11:50 AM

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Jim Hall | November 29, 2006 12:00 PM

Early this fall, I had to snake both my bathroom and basement drains. All I can say is ugly, ugly, mess. Good luck John. And remember wear gloves. I didn't wear any when I started, big mistake.

Steve Buchheit | November 29, 2006 12:04 PM

Face the fear, John.

That and run the taps for five minutes straight every month. I've been told that helps. Not that I follow that dictum.

Of course those monster in the closets and under the bed also must wash and gargle sometimes. Now you know they're there. La Chupacabra strikes again.

AliceB | November 29, 2006 12:09 PM

What? No photos?

Then again, maybe not...

Steve Buchheit | November 29, 2006 12:16 PM

Alice, "No photos?"

I just did a post mash-up in my head with "No photos?" and "I was gonna take a picture, but then I ate it," and...

Sorry, had to wait to stop gaging there.

Good thing I ate lunch already.

Kristine Smith | November 29, 2006 12:22 PM

Plumbers are the guardians of the gates to the underworld.

Just think. Kitchen drains do all that, and stink besides.

Ginny | November 29, 2006 12:28 PM

What a coincidence--my husband snaked our bathtub drain just yesterday. What came out looked a little like Quatto from "Total Recall."

Jason Long | November 29, 2006 12:29 PM

No way in hell am I holding you until after you've cleaned up the mess and taken a shower.

Ted Lemon | November 29, 2006 12:32 PM

Wow. I just reread Sunshine. This is an amazing coincidence. :')

K.V.C | November 29, 2006 12:37 PM

Look on the bright side: Now you have inspiration to write a horror story!

Adam | November 29, 2006 12:38 PM

To steal from *ahem* fark: This thread is useless without pics!

Courtney | November 29, 2006 12:38 PM

Some of our best family moments occurred during snakings. I vividly recall my father snaking out my grandmother's kitchen sink and seeing the snake poke up outside the kitchen window, having gone straight through the pipe.

Good times.

Mary | November 29, 2006 12:57 PM

Oh, no. We just bought a bottle of Drano last night and used it on our balky bathroom sink. It didn't work. Does this mean there's a snaking in our future?

If you don't know how to fix a clogged sink, let the mute but captivating Bathroom Elf show you how.

KevinQ | November 29, 2006 01:09 PM

We've had a slow-running bathroom sink drain for a few days, and last night it was nearly completely stopped up. I couldn't sleep, and I thought it would be a good idea to take our plunger (which we bought for the toilet, but have never had cause to use) to the drain.

One plunge later, and the grossest, foulest, nastiest crap came belching out of the sink's overflow drain. Black, nasty sludge shooting across the sink. I think I have some idea about the crap pulled up from your drain. I'm going to try Drano next - hopefully I won't have to whip out the snake.


Todd Stull | November 29, 2006 01:22 PM

Sounds like somebody needs a good therapy session to talk about their fears. It's OK. Take deep breaths. On the other hand, maybe not, especially if the stuff is nasty smelling.

Incidentally, anybody ever try to build a shower hair ball and submit it to the Guinness Book? Like two weeks ago, a new record for rubber band ball was made. I'm thinking this could be someone's gateway to fame....

Nathan | November 29, 2006 01:28 PM

And to Steve for putting that image in my head.....You are an Evil, Evil man.

John H | November 29, 2006 01:34 PM

A few weeks ago I got fed up that my shower was not draining properly, so I took the plunger to it. It pulled out a bunch of crud, which promptly went right back down the freshly cleared bathtub drain. A quick rinse and it was good to go.

I'm just wishing I had done it three weeks earlier...

Eddie | November 29, 2006 01:36 PM

Ever wonder why snaking the drains is always the man's job?

Another eye-opener if you live out in the burbs is to look into your septic tank when it gets pumped out.Did you know that cigarette butts have a half-life of 50,000 years in your drain field?

Lance | November 29, 2006 01:42 PM


Next time try the Zip-It. You can find it at most hardware and plumbing supply stores. Less cumbersome that a snake, and just as effective.

By the way, loved TAD, OMW, TGB, and Agent to the Stars!

green_knight | November 29, 2006 01:50 PM

Mechanical means might be smelly and horrible, but I'd rather clean out the drain under my sink again than pour chemicals down my drain.

The idiot who owned my house before me owned a washing machine without a fluff filter. Which drained, through a hole in the outside wall, straight into the outside drain. Which promptly clogged and overflowed into the garden, building a nice, smelly pondlet.

My second job in this house (the first was changing the locks as she'd moved out, leaving the door wide open) was to excavate the outside drain.

You think the one in the bathroom is icky? Think again. Never again shall I complain about the high prices plumbers command.

Jim | November 29, 2006 02:21 PM

I gag every time I have to clean out a drain. No joke. I have a weak stomach.

kero aka kevin | November 29, 2006 02:34 PM

I like to pour a kettle of boiling water down the drains every so often to move the gunk farther away and to scald the monsters.

Anne C. | November 29, 2006 02:38 PM

Like KVC, my first thought was "cool, excellent fodder for a story!"

Adam Rakunas | November 29, 2006 02:40 PM

My sympathies. The kitchen sink's plumbing got clogged last month, and I heartily second Jim Hall's advice at the top: wear gloves. God, the stench of pipe sludge is a bear to remove.

Rachel | November 29, 2006 03:25 PM

I'll do it for you.

Nothing can possibly compare to snaking out the pipes in your french horn. Once you see what disgusting grossness exists inside the instrument you put your mouth on for hours every day, nothing can possibly gross you out... except watching the kid sitting last chair allstate eat the said goop. *shudders*

katre | November 29, 2006 03:43 PM

John, John, John.

In college, I was the House Manager for my fraternity. You want horror? Snake a fraternity bathroom's drain.

Alice | November 29, 2006 03:50 PM

My condolences. I snaked out my drain (I have to do it, since I'm the one with the long hair, sigh) a couple months ago and now I understand where Japanese hair monsters come from.

Mary Robinette Kowal | November 29, 2006 04:25 PM

And people wonder why plumbers get paid so much...

Tripp | November 29, 2006 04:38 PM


Ditto on the horn sludge. Where does that stuff come from?

I once had a problem toilet that plunging and snaking wouldn't fix. I ended up taking the whole thing off the floor to find a toothbrush rattling around in the trap!

The funny thing is that this happened two more times, but the last time my teenage son admitted accidently dropping his toothbrush in the toilet and then trying to flush it down instead of retrieve it.

That third time I made him do ALL the work while I supervised. He hated it but hey - as a good Dad I'll "help out" but after 3 times it is time to start cleaning up one's own mess.

la gringa | November 29, 2006 04:55 PM

That's the second time today that someone made me snarf coffee onto my keyboard with a blog entry.

I think my cat Stinkyboy may be sneaking his hairballs into your drain, dude.

David Klecha | November 29, 2006 05:13 PM

I snaked a drain with a wire coathanger once because our little shower was overflowing into the apartment below (weird, cut-up Victorian manse in downtown Grand Rapids). I got the thing snaked to the length of the hanger, every inch of it foul smelling nastiness and filth, and still my shower backed up.

We made the landlord take care of it from there.

Captain Button | November 29, 2006 05:22 PM

Sounds like a job for Harry Tuttle ...

Anonymous | November 29, 2006 06:00 PM

"Somebody hold me"
Oh isn't that touching, or maybe it a sign that John's gone mad?

Jaquandor | November 29, 2006 06:03 PM

Wimps. One bathroom sink? I scoff at you! I recently had to help shovel out the pit beneath an air door, said pit being down the plumbling line from the public restrooms of the grocery store in which I work, when said plumbing line became blocked and thus forced about five days' worth of toilet flushings into that pit, which measures roughly twenty feet long, eight feet wide, and four feet deep.

Steve Buchheit | November 29, 2006 08:52 PM

Nathan, "You are an Evil, Evil man."

Yes I am. Hmm, whom was it that was going to help sell me subway "dogs"?

Revenge is a dish best served hot water temperature... oh, wait. Did I already crack a food/eats joke in this thread already? Dang.


Jon H | November 29, 2006 09:21 PM

My roommate sheds like a dog, and doesn't clean the drain. So every time I go away for a weekend or longer, I come home to find that the drain strainer thingy is plugged up with hair and unknowable gunk, and the tub has obviously been draining really slowly, and the bottom of the tub is nasty and there's a ring of dirt around the high water mark.

So I think I know how you feel.

mythago | November 29, 2006 11:57 PM

That and run the taps for five minutes straight every month. I've been told that helps.

Actually, what that helps do is flush the lead out of your pipes. (If you have an old house/live in an old apartment building, lead accumulates in the water standing around in your pipes overnight.)

John, I hate to tell you that it's normal human, uh, shedding. It mutates when it's been in a wet sink with soap for a while. Also, it expands into the sixth and seventh dimensions, and when you snake your drains, all that matter pops back into three-dimensional form. Not pretty.

MrFinch | November 30, 2006 01:37 AM

And after all that...

I think I've got a crush on the mute but captivating Bathroom Elf.

Brandon | November 30, 2006 07:43 AM

Unfortuantely, that's the consequence of living with two women with long hair. My wife has long hair, and I sweat that if I put a drain up on the roof, somehow her hair would find a way to clog it up.

kero aka kevin's suggestion of pouring boiling water down the drain once a month is an excellent one as it helps break down all of the accumulated soap sludge.

Brandon | November 30, 2006 07:44 AM

Er, I swear, not I sweat. I mean I do that to, but not in this context.

Brenda | November 30, 2006 05:27 PM

Women do too clean drains. I do all the minor plumbing at my house. I use a zip-it on drains; works really well. Definitely MUST wear rubber gloves, though.
My teenage nephew has decided he wants to become a plumber. Don't think I do. But it would be nice to have a plumber in the family.

John, Thanks for not posting any pictures. Ugh.

Dee | January 4, 2007 12:11 AM

oh my goodness!! well, I wish i would've read a few of these posts a few weeks ago!!! I've made a mess of things upstairs not only does it stink to the moon but the sink is discolored from using The Works tub drainer and the tub is still badly clogged...I'm sick to my stomach and am trying like heck to rid the house of that smell before my kids get sick. If anyone has any suggestions for how to remove that ugly stain ... I greatly appreciate them. Thank you bunches!!!

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