Explosive Plumbing

- - posted in Ancient Archives

Or “How to re-enact scenes from Das Boot in your own home”.

I fear plumbing. In the DIY store it looks fun; all those pipes and connectors just like a giant construction toy. In reality plumbing involves leaks, water damage, pipe fittings that won’t link together, toilets and baths being unavailable when needed (aargh) and nasty pipe-dwelling ecosystems of strange black-green gunk. It can be expensive and often ineffective even if you pay someone else to do it.

We’ve been trying to clear our partially/completely blocked bath drain for months. Most of the time water drains so slowly we could use the bath as a clock. A plumber failed to clear the blockage - the water flowed, but very slowly. We failed, even using one of those reels of twisty cable. Our untrained cable wiggling had less effect than the plumbers professional cable wiggling.

The solution is cheap, disgusting and fun. Well, more fun than the cable.

Power Plumber is a can of compressed air with an optional funnel. Fill your bath or sink with enough water to cover the can, block all the other plugs and overflows connected to the same pipe, then fire blasts of air from the can directly into the plughole. Oh, and duck as jets of nasty water explode out of the overflows and other plugs. Try to hold the overflows closed while firing blasts of air into the drain. In a small bathroom with a shared drain it can get quite dramatic and messy. But it works. A few small explosions later and water starts flowing down the plughole. I’m impressed. DIY gadgets rarely do what they claim, but this really does make light work of clearing a blockage. The only problem is that it can spray blockage gunk all over the room, which is why I’m not keen on seeing how it works with blocked toilets.