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Faced with a monster sink clog, I learned to snake a drain and fight a disgusting clump to the death.

snake a drainBrie's sink. Yuck! Photo: Brie Dyas.

If I fixed this, I'd get my security deposit back. That's really the only thought that would motivate me as my boyfriend Chris and I took apart the sink drain pipes in my ancient apartment, then peered into the hole where the mother of all clogs resided. Deal with whatever was in there and I would get 2,000 much-needed dollars back. And probably a tetanus shot from handling the decades-old pipes. But that's OK.

Just why we resorted to the DIY route instead of calling my landlord was another thing. Well, two things: My cats Cookie and Roscoe. Not recognizing that unmarried women are compulsory given a cat to care for upon signing their first solo lease, the building management was decidedly less than enthused at the idea of feline occupants. So whenever something happened, which was frequently in the 90-year-old house, I had little choice but to roll up my sleeves and do it myself. (Alright alright, usually with the help of Chris.) And now that the building was being sold, it was high time to fix all of the "little things" that would take a big chunk out of my security deposit had I continued to ignore them.

First came the slow bathtub drain, which had been an ongoing problem that I had pretended didn't exist. (If you take to showering on top of a naturally-waterproof teak step stool, it's easy to ignore the rising water line.) It took about two hours to fix, using a trusty hand-cranked augur that's freed countless hairballs that were mere moments away from evolving and gaining the ability to talk.

snake a drainBrie Dyas

Almost immediately after I pulled up the terrible treasure from the underworld, Chris discovered that the bathroom sink wasn't draining. Working quickly, we tackled it with the surprisingly effective "As Seen on TV" Turbo Snake. Enjoying the post-repair high, I went to the kitchen for a celebratory cocktail. As I rinsed out a glass, I watched with horror as the sink quickly filled with water.

Yep, it was clogged.

We overconfidently tried the Turbo Snake, which did absolutely nothing. Then the auger, which was about as effective as wishing the clog away. Even less effective: Calling Chris unprintable names as he splashed the standing water all over me.

At this point, late into the evening, reeking of sink water and bad attitudes, we decided to take a chemical approach with a liquid drain opener. I can hear what you're saying, so I'll address it now. Is it bad for the environment? Yeah. Bad for the pipes? Uh-huh. Does it make the whole house smell like a newly-cleaned locker room? You bet. But when you're inventing new insults, it's time to try anything.

Over the course of the next day, we tried two different openers to no real avail. My heart sunk as it became more apparent that we'd have to open up the pipes ourselves. Releasing the trapped water and drain openers through the clean-out plug, we then braced ourselves as we exposed the drain stubout.

It wasn't the overflowing grossness we expected but rather a yawning hole, or maybe a gateway to Narnia. The flimsy beam of a flashlight couldn't brighten the abyss. We blindly cast the snake in, like Captain Ahab trying to capture the whale. Nothing.

That's when it occurred to me: Take a photo of the hole. Not to preserve the terrible ordeal for posterity, but because the super-bright flash will flood the space with light. And once uploaded, we could lighten the photo further to see what exactly was clogging the drain.

Sounds crazy and impossibly nerdy but it worked. This was what was living in the drain, a half-hidden mass of unidentifiable grossness that yielded to the Turbo Snake minutes after this photo was taken.

And yes, I did get my security deposit back.

Still have more things to unclog? Check out...
Unclog a Drain: Baking Soda Vs. Drano

The Daily Fix: How to Unclog a Toilet

Tips for Unclogging A Dirty Drain

Want to be 100% sure that you get your security deposit back? Read up...
Renters: Get Your Security Deposit Back
Six Ways to Make Sure You Get Back Your Security Deposit

And if you want to see exactly how it's done, watch this video.

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