Every few weeks I put some baking soda and vinegar down the bathtub drain to clear it out. A few weeks ago while housecleaning of a Sunday, I noticed the drain still seemed sluggish afterward, so I did the other thing that sometimes helps: plunged it with the toilet plunger. It didn’t really help.
A few hours later I tried the plunger again, and this time all hell broke loose. Black sludge started coming up from the drain, at first just a few particles, but then huge clumps. The water slowly went down over a few hours, leaving a mess of soot all over the bottom of the tub.
Over the next few days, I just could not let go of the image of myself as the Schneid. I kept filling the tub, plunging it, and then staring in horror at the bubbling geyser of nastiness that would appear. By Tuesday, the bathroom sink was backing up into the tub.
Wednesday, I stopped by Sears and bought a snake, which I spent over an hour twisting and pushing into the drain, only to pull it back out, covered in sticky black goo, without having accomplished anything.
Did I mention that it smelled like sulfur?
Finally, Thursday, I broke down and called the plumber. Unfortunately, due to scheduling conflicts, and our general laziness about finding another plumber, we had to wait a full week (god bless the guest bathroom!) before we could get someone in.
When the guy finally arrived, I was a little apprehensive. Honestly, I was afraid he was going to be scary and yell at me for having created this problem with all my ill-advised bootleg plumbing techniques.
No need to worry. The plumbing company sent us a middle-aged Jewish guy, looking for all the world like Jerry Garcia, and mostly wanting to tell me all about his sons and their football careers at Niles North as he rodded out the tub.
My favorite thing about Jerry Garcia was that as he was leaving he warned me that there’s a real problem with the leveling of our pipes, something that means we’ll always be at risk for this type of clog. But when I asked if we should think about pulling up the floors to fix it he shrugged and said, “Eh…You know, you should just fill up the tub every week or so and let it drain. The weight of the water will force everything through.”
Now there’s a solution – homemade, confusing, and totally free – that appeals to my Schneid. In the meantime, I’m just happy to have my bathtub back.