Clear a floor drain
In many basements, garages and laundry rooms there are floor drains that carry away wastewater from central air conditioners, washing machines, water heaters and snow-covered cars. Over time, these drains collect large quantities of soap scum, laundry lint, sand and slimy bacteria that crystallize inside the long drainpipe. To break through these tough blockages, you'll need the extra clog-clearing muscle of an electric power auger. Rent a power auger with at least 50 ft. of cable. Start by removing the strainer that covers the drain hole. Then, look for a clean-out plug on the side of the drain basin. Remove the plug with a wrench (photo 7). That allows you to bypass the trap and feed the cable directly down the pipe. If the drain doesn't have a clean-out plug, you'll have to snake the cable through the trap; this is a somewhat more difficult approach. Plug in the power auger and position it near the drain. Most models are fitted with a foot-pedal switch, leaving both of your hands free to guide the cable. Feed several feet of cable down the drainpipe. Set the motor for clockwise rotation, then step on the switch to start the cable turning (photo 8). Push the cable into the pipe until you feel resistance or hear the motor start to bog down. Stop the motor, reverse the rotation and back out a few feet of cable. Switch back to clockwise rotation and feed the cable farther down the pipe. Repeat this back-and-forth procedure until the clog has been cleared away. Retrieve the cable and flush out the drainpipe by pouring several buckets of hot water down it. If the water still drains sluggishly, run about 2 ft. of cable directly down the trap. Before replacing the clean-out plug, wrap Teflon tape around its threads; this will make it easier to unscrew the plug in the future. Caution: Failure to replace the clean-out plug will allow dangerous sewer gases to seep into the house.
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