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Super Handyman: Top solutions for stubborn clogs

Drain clogs don’t happen that often, or at least they shouldn’t, but when they do, you want to bust the clog quickly and without a lot of mess. Here are our best solutions.

My favorite clog-buster tool these days is the flexible plastic barbed strip that you can buy at the hardware store just for this purpose. It is best for hair clogs that aren’t deep down in your drain. In most cases, you don’t even need to remove the drain cover to use it.

A plumber’s snake or auger also is a great tool. These thin metal cables are easy to get down into a drain and usually are long enough to get to and past just about every clog in the house. A little wiggle every now and then will get you through the tight spots and dislodge most of the debris.

If you can’t get to the clog from one drain, you probably can reach it from another drain or a cleanout plug. When wound back up, they can easily be stored away, too.

And let’s not forget the plunger or plumber’s friend. This wonderful gadget is great and can be used to push or pull a clog out of most drains. Keep in mind that if your drain has an overflow hole, try to cover it with tape or plug it with something that can’t be sucked into it from the force of the plunger. If working on a double sink, close off one side. Also, if you put a little petroleum jelly around the rim of the plunger where it sits over the drain, you will get a tighter seal and better suction.

If you are working with standing water, you can use a wet shop vacuum to clean that up. You even can suck a clog out with these sometimes.

A Drain King also is a very handy gadget. This is made to hook on the end of a garden hose. It fits down into the drain and, when the water is pumped through the hose, it expands and forces out the water at a higher pressure and can bust through some pretty bad clogs.

Chemicals should be your last resort. Once used, you can’t do too much more without danger or getting the caustic material on your hands, or worse.

Prevention always is a good plan and, unless you just enjoy the challenge, worth the extra effort!

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Q: I have squeaky wooden floors in my home. I’ve tried several suggestions to fix them but have never found something that can be installed permanently to stop the noise. What would you suggest I try next? – R.E.

A: There’s a super kit that you can buy at your hardware store called Squeeeeek No More that works really well for situations like yours. The special screws are made to go through carpet without damaging it and will work on wood floors too.

Once installed, the heads break off just below the surface so that it’s not sticking up any longer and can be puttied over on wood floors. Check it out at floorsqueaks.com.

Shoptalk

Deer are cute, but they can destroy a landscape overnight. Of course, you wouldn’t want to do any real harm to them, just keep them at bay. Deer Ban is a natural and biodegradable repellent, in the form of gel caps, that can be placed around the perimeter of your yard to keep deer out of your yard. It’s odorless to humans, but contains coyote urine, which is a natural deterrent to deer, in each capsule. Place them up to 20 feet apart to protect your yard from destruction. Each capsule lasts up to 90 days. Check your garden center, hardware store or feed store, or go to summitresponsiblesolutions.com to find out more.

Got a question or a handy tip? Visit thesuperhandyman.com. Those of general interest will be used in future columns.