Slow Drain (Maintenance)

Reverend Lovejoy: God didn’t burn your house down, but he was working in the hearts of your friends be they Christian, Jew, or . . . miscellaneous.
Apu: Hindu. There are seven hundred million of us!
Reverend Lovejoy: Aw, that’s super.

When I was a college sophomore, I lived with a friend in an off-campus apartment. The bathtub drain was always slow, but over the semester it became slower…and slower…and finally stopped completely, leaving about six inches of water.


After many overwrought calls to management, some guy came with a snake; the drain worked for two whole days. Then we contacted the owner. I explained the situation and asked for a repair and a small rent credit. He laughed and responded, “Well, you see, I’m a [adherent of a major Western religion], and we don’t believe that money is the answer to every problem.”


To which I should have replied, “News flash: NOBODY believes that!” and “How does this doctrinal conversation get this drain fixed?” There should be a special place in Dork Town for people who use their supposed religion to weasel out of their commercial obligations.

There was a happy ending, though: eventually, I found the guy’s home phone number, which annoyed him enough that he sent an actual plumber over. The liberal arts weren’t a harsh enough mistress to stop me from harassing the landlord!

I hadn’t thought about that super-special time in years, but I recently noticed that I was wading while taking showers in our main bathroom. Just a bit. And maybe a bit more. I kept ignoring it, because we have one of those push/pop-up drains, and I did not know how to remove it.

pop-up drain stopper

I preferred to rationalize it rather than spend two minutes figuring it out. Water is good for feet, right??

Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.

Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty. – Derek Zoolander

Once my feet were well-moisturized but before I developed trench-foot, I looked into what to do. Turns out, it is super-easy to remove a pop-up drain stopper. Just turn the top of the drain counter-clockwise (UK: anti-clockwise — for some reason, I adore the term “anti-clockwise”) by hand. You might have to unscrew it for quite a while, but it will come loose. Depending on the brand, either the whole top of the unit will lift out, or just the cover. In the latter case, there will be a slot to loosen up the rest of the top using a blade screwdriver.

pop-up drain stop

The unit looks something like this. Put the thread back into the hole in the drain to screw it back in.

Now, you can root around in the drain mouth to your heart’s content! All the hair that had fallen out of my head since 1981 seemed to be in the drain. I didn’t take a picture.

You can also replace the rubber “skirt” that makes the seal if it is degraded — it’s sold as a separate part, as well as with the whole unit. Our problem was entirely hair-related, so I didn’t need to change out the seal.

Once you’ve cleaned it out, simply reinsert the top and screw it back down. It’s so luxurious not to be standing in water during a shower! Simple pleasures.

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