Monday, July 23, 2007

A satisfied customer

Friends, are your drains clogged? Does your water seep slowly through the muck hiding beneath your sink, or does it swirl in lazy circles without going much of anywhere at all?

Well, have I got the product for you.

We've got perennial slow drainage here at Chez Bowman-Murray. I don't know whether to blame Noel's tough whiskers, my foamy beauty products, or some unknown goop that the kids are pouring in there when we're not looking. But in any case, I've spent the last few years periodically trying all the drain openers on the market. It didn't matter whether it was liquid, gel, or two mysterious ingredients that foam when combined* -- nothing worked very well, or for very long.

I was excited when Liquid Plumr put a compressed-air canister on the market, because I've long wanted to just plunge my drains clear, the same way I do my toilet. I bought my share of them for the thrill of the three-second blast. But I couldn't get the cap to cover the drain opening because the faucet extends over it, forcing me to hold the can at a slight angle -- and the recommended solution (creating a seal around the system with wet washcloths) is impossible if, like most, you have been born with only two hands.

So I turned to an expert: Kevin Kelly's Cool Tools reports. Every week Kelly, the well-known Wired editor, or one of his hand-picked compatriots, reports on four or five gadgets, tools, websites, books, or even films that solve a problem or fill a need with elegance, efficiency, and good design. A few months back, my Cool Tools e-mail mentioned just the drain-blaster I was looking for -- a pump-action gun with multiple adapters to fit over different size openings. Pump the thing up, run water in the drain up to the top (as we know, air will compress but water will not, making it the perfect conduit to send pressure down from the source to the clog), cover the drain and press the trigger.

Kelly's informant found the gun at American Science and Surplus, truly one of the great catalogs of our time. (Check out the entry for "Amusing Bargain Post-It Notes," a drug company giveaway for a rectal gel that feature "an unfortunate little fire extinguisher logo.") But like many of the items AS&S sells, once it's gone, it's gone. So I went to Source Number Two: the novelty company Things You Never Knew Existed (motto: We Have An Entire Category Called "Fart And Wind-Breaking Gags"!). There, among the diary-shaped joy buzzers and trick golf balls, lurked BAAM!, the air pressure drain opener (The Extra "A" Stands For "As Not Endorsed By Emeril").

It arrived this afternoon. My first clog-busting effort went awry when I underestimated how firmly I needed to hold the gun -- it blasted itself right off the drain, spraying me with a light mist of standing water. But after a few more pumps to rearm the weapon, I showed that drain who's boss.

For my next "how did I live without it" purchase, I'm checking out these stylin' flexible rubber buckets. My next turkey-brining will be that much more enjoyable without lugging around a shin-damaging five-gallon plastic bucket with a metal handle designed before the word "ergonomic" was invented. If you wash cars, pot plants, or pour packing peanuts over small objects more than once a year, I think you need TubTrugs at least as much as me.

*And have a disturbingly suggestive name.


the secret knitter said...

Cool link for those cool tools. It sounds like one of those drain openers would have been exactly what I needed at my old place. I engaged in a neverending battle with them.

stevie said...

Oh my God. You have no idea how much you just changed my life (and my teetering-on-the-brink ability to deal with my prewar plumbing). Thank you for sharing. Seriously: thank you.

My shower has yet to recover from us having three houseguests, and I recently dug out a bunch of crap from my bathroom sink using an old chopstick. This will be better.