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Super Handyman: Unclog stubborn shower drains

A clogged shower drain is one way to cut down on water usage. But there are better ways to remedy this problem. Here are some super tips for clearing a clogged drain in the shower, tub or sink.

Protect the delicate finishes with towels if you plan to use heavy tools or other items that might scratch or chip the surface.

Before grabbing the chemicals, get a hacksaw blade, minus the saw. Even without pulling off the drain cover, you should be able to slip the blade into the drain opening deep enough to grab the hair that probably is the culprit. Don’t let go of the blade, but pull the strainer back out and get rid of that mess. Repeat if necessary.

If the clog is deeper, then a plumber’s snake might work for you. If you can’t get it through the strainer, then it will need to be removed. It will be held in place with either screws or tabs that grab the drainpipe. Be careful not to drop the screws down the drain. The snake will go into the drain and find the clog, and then pull it out or push it on down.

Another great tool for busting a clog is called a Drain King. This is a rubber device that fits onto the end of a garden hose and blocks the drain line before putting out a very strong, pulsing water spray that can push out a lot of common clogs. Close up overflows if you are working in a tub or sink.

As a last resort, you can use chemical drain openers. The reason why we don’t start with these is because they are caustic and, once in the drain, can really make it difficult to use anything else if they don’t take care of the clog. The gel formulas seem to work a little better. Good luck!

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Q: Our bathtub is an older fiberglass model, and it has a small crack near the edge. It’s not in a critical area, but I would like to see if there is a way to fix it or seal it up somehow. What do you recommend? – R.B.

A: Even if your the crack is not in a critical area, water still can get in behind the surface and cause a lot of moisture damage over time. Your hardware store, or even an auto-parts supply store, will have a fiberglass-repair kit, hopefully to match your tub color. These take a few steps to complete and won’t look beautiful, but will seal up the crack. At some point, you will have to replace the shell.

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Q: We are getting ready to paint our house trim and would like to paint all of our gutters at the same time. Do we need to prep them in any way first? Do we need to paint the inside of them to help them last longer and resist rust? – B.D.

A: If possible, use a metal primer before painting. Don’t worry about the inside of the guttering. The metal is normally galvanized and made to resist rust for many years.

A Super hint

Remember when painting that one or more thin coats of paint will work much better than one thick coat. This is true when using spray paint or paint right out of the can. Even the paint that says it will cover in one coat might look better with two.

Shoptalk

If you want to be able to use the space under a deck more often and keep that area dry and rain-free, consider DrySnap Panels. These vinyl ceiling panels are designed to fit to the underside of a standard deck to cover up those wooden joists and flooring members and, because they are white, they lighten up these dark patios. They are fairly easy to put up, with the patented snap-together installation, and they come with a 10-year warranty. You can find out more at www.drysnap.com, and get more use from that dark, damp patio hiding under your deck.