My 80-year-old landlady refuses to call a plumber (NYC slumlords are AWESOME!!!) and we have done everything but snake

the very slow bathtub drain. I plunge it on a daily basis (helps a little) and we have done both Drano and vinegar (not at the same time...duh). The time has come to buy a snake and DIY this drain clog. What is the best, cheapest choice of HAND drain auger? We do own a power drill, so we could buy a power auger, but I prefer hand tools when possible. Thanks!

  • Woodbridge Environmental
    Woodbridge Environmental Colonia, NJ
    on Nov 29, 2011

    You must be real careful when using a snake for the tub. The older homes as you live in used lead pipes for the tub traps and they can be punched through quite fast when using a snake. And not knowing what type you have can put you at risk for an expensive repair. I would suggest if you used a plunger that you seal off the vent overflow on the tub when using it. If you have a lever that you turn to stop the water from flowing out of the tub, that you remove it as well. Quite often the plunger/stopper that is connected to the end of the lever prevents the hair clog from fulling clearing. By removing the lever and the associated stopper connected at the end, this will give you a much larger pipe opening and remove any restriction within the pipe and hopefully allow the water to be cleared using the plunger. Use a wet rag in the hole where the air vent is located so the plunging will push the water down the drain and not up the vent/stopper hole. The use of Drano is ok, but you can purchase much stronger stuff at Home Depot, They sell products that ideally only a professional should be using, but they do have them. If you go into the plumbing isle where they sell these products you will see them in black plastic bottles covered in plastic bags for additional safety. This stuff will burn you. So when using it wear glasses and plastic gloves. Ideally you should pour this down the drain and let it sit for several hours. It will eat any hair or organic material that is in the drain where it sits. So if the trap to the tub is the issue, this will work. If it does not, then the issue is farther down the drain where a simple hand snake will not work. I use this stuff every few months down our washing machine drain. As my wife washes horse blankets during the winter and we get a lot of hair clogs as a result. I normally put down a fair amount down the drain and leave it over night without using any water in that drain line. In the morning I pour boiling water down the drain and it clears the slow drain right away.

    • 2ms2
      on Nov 29, 2011

      WOW! Thanks! OK, I will start with the industrial strength Drano. If not, it sounds like I should call a plumber.