Clearing Main Drains and Sewer Lines

If more than one of your fixtures is sluggish or clogged, or if plunging and augering fail to solve the problem, you may have a clogged drain or sewer line. Look for clean-outs, places where you can remove a large nut and slip in an auger. Start with the highest clean-out you can find that is below the clogged fixture. If augering it does not work, continue working downward. Sometimes it proves best to go up on the roof and run an auger down through the vent stack. This job often warrants calling in a plumber or a drain-cleaning service, especially if the line is clogged with tree roots.

Caution! Before removing any clean-out plug from a main drain line, have buckets on hand to catch the wastewater.

Auger a main drain. Look for a clean-out near the bottom of your home’s waste stack. Loosen the plug of the clean-out. If water flows out, the blockage is below. (If no water flows out, the blockage is holding the water above, so replace the clean-out plug and auger from a higher point.) Insert the auger into the opening and run it back and forth several times. Another solution is to use a blow bag. Once the blow bag is in place, run the water in the hose full force on and off several times.

Auger a house trap. If neither procedure works, move farther down the line. Some houses have a house trap near where the drain line leaves the house. Open one of the two plugs and thread in an auger. The blockage may be in the trap itself.

Clear a sewer line. If the blockage still does not go away, the outdoor sewer line may be blocked. Often fine tree roots work their way into the line, creating a tough blockage that can only be removed with a heavy auger with a cutting bit. First try feeding in a garden hose to push and flush out the obstruction. If that doesn’t work, call in a professional or rent a heavy-duty power auger. Running one of these is a two-person job. Get a demonstration from the rental center on its use.

Cleaning Showerheads

If your showerhead sprays unevenly, take it apart and clean it or replace it. If it leaks at the arm, or if it doesn’t stay in position, tighten the retainer or collar nut. If that doesn’t work, replace the CD-ring—or replace the showerhead. If you want to replace your showerhead, take the old one with you to your supplier to make sure you get one that will fit your pipe. You’ll find a wide range of styles and features.

Two basic types - Newer showerheads simply screw onto the shower arm, the chromed pipe that extends from the wall. Older models require a shower arm with a ball-shaped end that acts as a swivel. In most cases you can switch to a newer style by replacing the shower arm. If you wish to replace the shower arm, remove it from the drop ell. Wrap Teflon tape around the male threads of the new shower arm before screwing it into place.

Removing a showerhead - This is a simple matter of unscrewing the nut at the shower arm. Take care not to mar the finish of the shower head or arm: Use a wrench rather than pliers. For an added precaution, cushion your wrench with a rag as you work.

Clean the holes. Shower heads often spray unevenly because the tiny holes have gotten clogged with mineral deposits. Use an old toothbrush to clean the head. Then run a sharp blast of water backward through the showerhead.

Dismantle and clean. For a thorough cleaning, take the head apart, use a pin to poke out any mineral buildup or debris, and brush away all deposits. Then soak the parts in vinegar overnight to dissolve remaining mineral deposits. Reassemble and reinstall the showerhead.

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