A few quick tips, the fruit of certain unpleasant experiences in the bowls and bowels of my own home’s plumbing system…

Prevention, prevention, prevention! Clear those clogs and slow-running drains before any real problems can begin:

  • Catch hair and food scraps with a screen or drain trap;
  • Never pour grease down the drain;
  • Deodorize and maintain drains with a weekly treatment of 1/2 cup baking soda, rinsed with a kettle of boiling water; and
  • Pour 1/4 cup vinegar down the drains every week or so to keep them fresh.

If a drain does get clogged, try a few simple, green and thrifty home remedies — before you rush out to the store for the caustic toxic chemicals:

  • First off, grab yourself an old-fashioned rubber plunger, beloved of lame comedians and a certain cartoon dog who used to put one on his butt and pretend to be a chicken… Remove as much as you can of the crud that’s blocking the drain pipe, by pumping up and down to create some suction.
  • If that doesn’t do it, wiggle a plumber’s “snake” down the pipe (you can rent them quite cheap at almost any place that, er, rents stuff). Yes, it’s disgusting. But it certainly beats paying for a plumber to make a housecall, and waiting around all day (two days?) for him to show up!
  • To shift small clogs, pour 1/2 cup baking soda straight into the drain, then 1/2 cup vinegar. Quickly, plug the drain opening. Let it fizz away for 15 minutes or more, then pull the plug, and rinse with lots and lots of very hot water. Repeat as needed.

Then go back and start a whole new relationship with your plumbing, paying particular attention to my all-important first point — Prevention, prevention, prevention!

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