We live in an older house, and the plumbing gets clogged a lot. Whenever a sink, shower, or toilet backs up, I try to to unclog it myself before calling a plumber. Sometimes it’s as easy as using a Drain Weasel and getting hair out of a drain. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try a water bladder. As a last resort, I’ll use one of these hand-crank plumber snakes:
The snake is a wrist-killer and a huge hassle. To insert the snake, you have to loosen a screw, pull out a few inches of snake, tighten the screw, turn the handle a bunch of times, then repeat the process. It takes forever.
If none of these work, I call a plumber. He brings a giant snake that unclogs anything and gives me a well-deserved bill between $100 – $200 (depending on the time of day, or day of the week).
After getting a $200 bill plumber’s service on a Sunday evening, I looked around online for a motorized snake. This Ryobi P4001 18-Volt ONE+ Cordless 25 foot Drain Auger had good reviews and it fit my budget. Including the price of the battery and charger, the whole thing was $150. When it arrived, I put the battery in the charger, almost looking forward to the next clog so I could try it out.
Yesterday morning, it happened. My wife noticed that one of the clean outs in the backyard had lost its cap and sludge was seeping out. Judging from the size of the puddle, it looked like it had been happening for a long time. That explained the odd odor we’d been smelling in our kitchen sink and shower for the last couple of weeks.
I decided to try the water bladder first, because that was the quickest way to take care of the problem, and I wanted to get back to work as soon as possible. I attached the bladder to the garden hose and stuck it in the clean out. It seemed to be working, since water wasn’t gushing from the clean out. I removed the water bladder, put it away, and went back in the house. As soon as I was inside, I was hit with a foul odor worse than Satan’s diarrhea. Reluctantly, I followed the source of the smell and discovered a pool of black slimy sludgy water sitting in our shower. The stench was overpowering. I put on a pair of nitrile gloves and fished around in the opaque filth until I found the drain grill and pulled it out. It was now time to try out my new cordless drain auger.
I held the tip of the snake over the drain opening, and pressed the trigger button. The snake advanced automatically, descending below the surface of the muck. I have no idea how far the snake went before it hit the clog, but it eventually did, and I was gratified to see the water begin to drain. I flipped the switch …read more