Archive for October, 2009

I Touch My Surface Freebie Winner!

Before we dive into the results from this week’s giveaway from DuPont, we wanted to follow-up with the photos of our new nephew Emanuel that we promised last Thursday (while at least keeping with this week’s prize theme). Here’s the little ladykiller now at one week old (p.s. he’s loving his new nursery):

Doesn’t that just make you wish there was an app for taking great photos? ‘Til then, I guess Emanuel will just have to settle for having a professional photographer as a father (gotta love that soft focus). But at least there are apps to help with the little things in life like picking out the perfect countertop surface, thanks to DuPont’s mySurface (free in the iTunes App Store). If any of you have tried it out, we know they’d be curious to hear your feedback.

And in case you haven’t tried it out, one of you is about to have no good excuse not to thanks to the free 8GB iPod Touch they’re about to win. As usual, we huddled with and picked a winner: Hillary R. We’re not sure if you’ll find that application that calculates dimensions of a room from a picture, but if you stumble upon any other must-have apps let us know. Congrats!

The good news for everyone else is that next week’s giveaway is perfect for those who wanted an app to help with dinner. Plus it’s available to all of our international readers. Oh happy day.

Get more info on our freebies at our Giveaway FAQs page.



How To Unclog A Super Backed Up Drain


Please excuse me if this post comes off as hyper or deranged or a little bit of both, but yesterday at exactly 5:41pm I told that drain who was boss and cleared the clog. Victory is mine! And yes I did have my hands up in the hallelujah pose for at least five minutes while I stared at the euphorically-empty-tub before breaking into a full body happy dance (think Elaine from Seinfeld). The funny thing is that I did it all by myself while John was on his way home from work (gotta love girl power) and without spending a dime or using a drop or Drain-o, Liquid Plumr, or anything else that could put hair on my chest (or singe any off of John’s). Woo to the hoo.

But before we get to the drain-clearing miracle that occurred less than 24 hours ago, we have to say THANK YOU to all of the amazing guys and gals who weighed in with tons of helpful suggestions on yesterday morning’s post about our clogged drain (all 175 of you!). If anyone reading this is having a drainage issue, definitely read through all of the amazingly helpful and diverse comments (at the end of this post) for more ideas than you’ll know what to do with! We even had some plumbers (and wives/daughters of plumbers) weigh in with direct advice from the experts themselves and for that we’re eternally grateful.

For anyone dealing with a backed up sink, let’s take a look back at the initial things we did to try to solve the clog that wouldn’t quit (seriously, not an inch of water would drain in a 24 hour period):

So after sharing those attempts in our last post where we begged for help, many readers piped up with these additional ideas (and this is just a sampling so be sure to check out all of their comments for even more):

Obligatory warning: of course we’re not plumbers so we can’t vouch for all of the suggested remedies above, and you should always take the types of pipes that you have- and their conditions- into consideration when trying to clear them (we have galvanized metal ones but have heard that some of the harsher solvents and chemicals can melt newer PVC pipes and even rust metal ones, so we wouldn’t go crazy with ten of these remedies at once for example). And maybe try starting off with the milder options like the wire hanger, Dawn detergent, pressurized treatments, etc before breaking out the super crazy acid-based solutions).

Second obligatory warning: if you have tried one of the more chemical fixes above (like Drain-O, Nair, Liquid Plumbr, etc, and eventually do end up calling in a plumber, PLEASE tell the plumber which chemicals you’ve already tried to help them avoid nasty chemical burns!

But back to business. Let’s get to the exact method that did the job (paired with some pretty insane determination):

Step 1: Talk some smack to the drain, just so it knows you’re not messing around this time. I think I said something to the effect of “Ok, enough of the namby pamby stuff, I’m serious. Dead serious.”

Step 2: If there’s any standing water in the tub (which was always the case with ours since it wasn’t draining at all) use a bucket and a large sponge to empty the tub as much as possible (I dumped the water into the nearby toilet and it periodically flushed itself- fun).

Step 3: Use a screwdriver to remove the overflow cover on the side of the tub under the faucet and pull out the metal coil to inspect it for any hair or junk (if you don’t have an overflow valve skip to step 5).

Step 4: If the coil is completely clean (like ours- not one single hair to be found) do not be deterred. Shove a wet washcloth into the opening under the faucet where the overflow cover had been to keep any pressure that you’re about to apply to the drain from escaping.

Step 5: Plunge the drain like it’s your job. Every ten times in a row or so the washcloth would come loose and need to be shoved tightly back into the hole to keep the air from escaping with every plunge (a tight seal is everything). If you have a spare person around they can help by holding the washcloth in place to keep the seal nice and tight, although I’m thrilled to say that I didn’t even need John (but would’ve appreciated the eye candy).

Step 6: After about three or four ten-second attempts (a total of about forty plunges) if nothing is happening don’t give up. I almost did, but the idea of another shower spent standing in five inches of stagnant water was enough to spur me on. “No. More. Wrinkly. Feet.” I chanted (screamed?) as I plunged.

Step 7: Cue the beautiful music. No it won’t be Beyoncé’s Put A Ring On It, it’ll be the glorious sound of the drain gurgling and furiously draining right before your very eyes. At least that’s what happened in my case. And I may or may not have gotten misty-eyed at the sight of the swirling water.

Step 7: Screw the overflow cover back into place and call your husband/friend/parole officer to brag about your newfound plumbing skills. In my case I called John to gloat. I also debated greeting him at the door bent over with my butt crack out (we’re married, it’s ok) but decided against it.

Step 8. As a precautionary method, to clear things out even further, pour half a cup of baking soda and a cup of white vinegar down the drain (we actually used 50% rice wine vinegar and 50% apple cider vinegar because we had it on hand and it worked like a charm). Let it sit for five minutes and then flush everything down with a gallon of boiling hot water. This time everything should be whisked right down the drain like a flume ride at an amusement park. It might be the best moment of your life.

And that’s all it took. Zero dollars, zero chemicals, and zero manpower (lady power all the way). So that’s the story of me + 1 plunger +1 dishcloth + sheer desperation. Take that clog. Who’s your daddy? And it sure beat paying a pro to come work some magic in five minutes and bill me $80-$150 for his time. Which is not to say that we don’t highly encourage hiring a professional if you just can’t crack something on your own. For example, if this had been a clog in the main line or if exterior tree roots or pipe corrosion had been involved we definitely would have been happy to pay someone to swoop in and save the day.

And now I’ll enthusiastically end this drain discussion with even more bullets, in the form of what precautions we’ll be taking to make sure this never ever happens again (many of which were suggested by our lovely readers):

What about you guys? Any stories of home improvement triumph following a few frustrating attempts at something? Sometimes it takes a challenge to truly make you feel victorious!