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Don’t believe everything you see on tv

While I was sick at home I watched a lot of daytime TV, including Steven and Chris who apparently used to be The Designer Guys but now have their own daytime show. They had Kim Woodburn – the “Queen of Clean” – as a guest, and she shared a number of household tips.

Including this one: Unclogging Your Sink
Pour a cup of salt down the drain, followed by a cup of baking soda, and chase it down with boiling water.

Today my sink was clogged, so I did that. It didn’t work, so I did it again. It didn’t work, so I did it again. It didn’t work, so I did it again.

It seems that not only did it not work, it made things in the drain considerably worse because it filled the drain with goop. (Let me just say these are the instructions she gave on the show; they are not identical to the instructions on Steven and Chris’ website.)

So, as the storm begain today, I bundled up and made the half hour trek over to Loblaws where I bought drain cleaner. Two bottles of one kind, and one bottle of another kind. (I got more grapefruits too.)

Following the instructions on the bottle, I slowly poured half a bottle of no-name drain cleaner into the drain. It just sat there, unable to work its magic because of the 3 cups of goop in the drain.

We take our sinks for granted, don’t we? How many times a day do we dump something down or rinse something off or fill something up or wash our hands or wash the dishes? ALL THE TIME. Every little thing we do is somehow connected to our kitchen sinks.

After about five hours without a sink, my kitchen was a disaster. The dishes were piling up. There were no clean cat food dishes left. Clean cups had been pressed into service as “standing water receptacles” every time I scooped out all the water and poured more stuff down the drain.

I kept poking a skewer down there and twisting it around, and all I could feel was the salt & baking soda goop. I tried plunging it. I tried pouring vinegar down. I tried pouring toxic chemicals in there and leaving it alone for awhile, but that was difficult because I had become obsessed. I updated my Facebook status to reflect my sink’s status.

And then a friend called and asked me if I would like him to come over with his homeowner tools and fix my sink. Today. In the blizzard. He showed up with a professional plunger and a snake. He had even more tools in the car – wrenches and so on, in case the plumbing had to be dismantled.

He worked at it for quite awhile with the plunger and the snake, and it wasn’t looking promising. Every now and then we poured a little more vinegar down the drain and it fizzed because of the outrageous quantities of baking soda and salt I had stuffed down the drain. And then suddenly, miraculously, something went “pop” and the standing water shot down the drain and the problem was solved. Both problems were solved, actually: the problems caused by the Clean of Queen’s problematic solution to the original problem, and the original problem itself.

Then we had a cup of coffee and he ventured back out into the blizzard and I settled down to enjoy the fruits of his labour. I washed all my dishes. It was so satisfying.

I’ve always said that the way to make someone happy is to take away something they have and then give it back. Getting my sink back made me much happier than I was before it stopped working.

Update on falling down the stairs

Several people were inquiring as to my well-being today after my tumble down the stairs yesterday. Well, I took Megan’s advice and had an epsom salts bath last night before bed. (I don’t understand epsom salts, do you? How are they supposed to work? Do they get absorbed through your skin?) This morning I woke up and took stock of my aches and pains before venturing out of bed (much to Duncan’s chagrin, I might add.)

I felt not too bad. The only thing that’s a bit odd is that the parts that hurt the worst during the tumble (back, hand, butt) didn’t really hurt today. But other parts, that didn’t seem to be affected by the fall at the time, hurt today (neck, shoulders, arms). Anyway I’m fine. Thanks Megan!

13 comments to Don’t believe everything you see on tv

  • KatieC

    I have also researched non-toxic, everyday drain de-clogging recipes and contemplated using the salt idea. I opted not to as I rarely use salt and 1 cup is probably all the salt I currently have and will use in a year. Now I am definitely glad I decided to save my salt.

    I did, however, use the baking soda + vinegar idea. Mind you, I didn’t have a clog, I just figure rinsing it out every now and again would be a good clog preventing measure. Did your homeowner tool friend say anything about what to use on not-so-major clogs?

  • re: taking something away and giving it back. we have been having strange problems this weekend with the electricity in our house. one by one power points are cutting out. yesterday the front rooms upstairs and downstairs lost theirs, this morning the laundry ones stopped working. this afternoon I was watching tv in the lounge and it just turned itself off.

    the only power remaining is in the kitchen, bathroom and my bedroom. hopefully we can get an electrician tomorrow before I lose the ability to blog :-(

  • Deb

    More household hints: Our house was cold this morning and the furnace didn’t seem to be working. Go outside and check the exhaust and intake pipes…ours were blocked by snow…as soon as Rob shoveled the snow away from it, the furnace started again.

  • OMG that furnace exhaust being blocked by snow is CRAZY! We’ve had repeated problems with our sink being clogged, but the plumbers always say NEVER to put anything down a clogged drain… so I’ve been listening. Which means paying for a plumber, almost always on weekends, but the last one was young and cute without so much as a hint of plumber’s butt.

  • OH – and epson salts? I think it’s more that they draw out the products of inflammation, not so much that they get absorbed. I hadn’t heard of them for bruises and stuff, more for wounds.

  • On not-so-major clogs, use a plunger. Stop up the other drain tightly (use wet rags if the plug does not work) or you’ll just force water up the other sink. For bathtubs and bathroom sinks, use a wet cloth to stop up the overflow drains.

  • For slow running drains I stuff as much baking soda down there as possible, then just cover the bottom of the sink with vinegar and let it bubble until it is all in the drain, then chase it all down with lots of boiling water. If it is a clog, I stop up the drain in the hopes that the chemical reaction gets focussed on what’s below. Or use a plunger.

    I always wanted to know about epsom salts too. Maybe I could try that, as I am still aching from my falls this week.

  • I have also found that a plunger (“plumber’s helper” I believe) works well on most clogs. I have never stopped up other drains and haven’t had an issue. Mostly I have used the plunger for the toilet but it is very satisfying to give it a good whoosh and everything runs freely again. With sinks, sometimes you have to stand on a stool (use something with rubber feet!) to get leverage (I am quite short).

    I am glad you can use your sink again.

  • I’v enever tried and homeade recipes. but I went through about 4 bottles of the liquid stuff once until I decided it doesn’t work… now I stick to the powder drano… works like a charm and you don’t need to use the whole bottle… just be careful handling it.

  • Jan

    I’d never had any success with the baking soda and water and vinegar to clear my drains either. A few years ago I bought a product called “One Second Plunger” from our local hardware store. (I’d seen a commercial for it.) It has worked perfectly the few times I’ve needed it. It’s pressurized gas that forces the clog along. It does require that there be water in the sink to create a seal so the gas doesn’t escape. I don’t recall the cost, but I’d guess it was about $10-20. I’ve lent it to others and it hasn’t run out of mojo yet. I’d say it’s good value and more environmentally friendly than chemical drain cleaners.

  • A young and cute plumber *without* plumber’s butt, cinnemon gurl? Isn’t that when you *want* plumber’s butt? A young and cute plumber *with* plumber’s butt showed me a trick for unplugging drains. Instead of forcing the clog DOWN the drain, create a suction with the plunger and pop the clog UP. This really works, but the downside is you get to see what was causing the clogs – ick.

  • Dianna

    Actually, Epsom salts are absorbed through your skin! They are a good source of magnesium, which helps keep your muscles from spasming.

  • Lala heard once that pouring coffee grounds down a drain will help clear the clog. Aargh. It didn’t help. I love a plunger and Drain-o, even though I hate the chemicals.