The Great Gnat War

"Why can't we just put in a maintenance request?" This is normally the very first response from Sister when anything in our apartment needs fixing. It all started about a month ago when we noticed the bathroom sink drain was slowing up. Every time we used it, it would take forever for the water to all go down. Not a real problem yet, but more of an inconvenience.

A week or so after the drain thing started, we noticed we were getting gnats in the apartment. We both hate those things. We had no fresh fruit laying around, or anything else that we thought might be bringing those disgusting things into our home.

Of course I took to the internet to research just what things might attract gnats. The first thing it said was, house plants! My sister always had a few live plants in the house, so we just assumed the soil had attracted the gnats. Sister put the plants outside, and hated to let them go.

We thought we were free of the flying pests, but those hopes were short lived. Again, the gnats are back! This time we see that they seem to be hanging out in the bathroom sink. Aha! Perhaps it is the clogged drain that has something to do with the gnats. Again Sister wants to alert the maintenance people. I, on the other hand am not ready to bother him. Instead, I check with the neighbor who does the cleaning in the empty apartments. Surely she has had to clear drains when she cleans the empty units, and may even have something we can use. She tells me that vinegar and baking soda is what she uses. "Just get it down the drain hole the best you can. It will foam up and just leave it for a few minutes." Hooray! Now I am excited. We have everything in the cupboard that we need, and will soon be gnat free.

So, before going to bed I will put the wonder un-clogger down the drain. That way I can leave it in a lot longer and it will work better. Up comes the foamy stuff as promised, and I can go to bed with the job well done attitude. Because the pop up thingy would not stay up, I just did the best I could with a butter knife.

Only in my dreams. Next morning, the drain is not unclogged and the gnats appear to be having some kind of celebration over the baking soda. I know they have now multiplied and I think I heard at least one of them laughing at me. Alas, I will not give in. Now they are really in for it.

Next morning early I head to Walmart. I am thinking maybe Liquid Plumber or dynamite. The Liquid Plumber is too heavy for me to carry home, and after reading all the cautionary stuff on back I was afraid I would either kill the dogs with the fumes, or even Sister and myself. There is no window in the bathroom and no way to really vent the fumes. I settled on an off brand with much less poison information. And it was smaller and easier to carry home. While I was there, I picked up one of those mesh/stainless steel thingy's that go in the drain hole, and you can easily take them in and out. I had already decided the pop up mechanism was history!

I start out trying to figure a way to get the pop-up out of the drain. Maybe I could actually see at least part of the clog if I could get it out. I remembered that most of them screw off at the top. I am twisting it, left of course as in "lefty loosy". No good. Would not even budge. I look under the sink and even with my poor eye-sight it appears that the pop up is somehow attached to the pipe under the sink. This could present yet another problem. If I take out the pop up will that also leave some kind of opening in the pipe?

Now I call for Sister to do some twisting on the flat part of the pop-up. Suddenly, she has the whole thing in her hand! It came out perfectly, and in one piece. I look under the sink, and all is well. Phase one is complete.

At this point, I am pouring about half the un-clogger down the drain. I see no clog, and assume it must be pretty far down the drain. Tap, tap...We wait fifteen minutes as per bottle instructions, and then put the hot water on. Low and behold, it is still clogged.

On to plan B. Sister suggests we try just finding the clog which is probably hair and lord knows what else. We should find a long tweezer or something like that, and just yank the clog out. At this point I can actually see the first five to six inches down inside and I see no clog there. I can think of nothing that I could put down in the drain that would reach far enough. Leave it to Sister, who brings me a long thin piece of wire. "Maybe you could make some kind of hook on the end and stick it down the drain. You might be able to pull out the clog."

Who would have thought. Sister comes through in the clutch! I stuck the long piece of wire down the drain after making a hook out of the end. After two or three tries, I got it! I pulled something up and out that strongly resembled a dead rodent. In any case, the hot water went down, the clog is gone, and once again all is right with our world. No more pop up that doesn't pop up, and no slow drain.

And was it the end of the gnat problem as well? To be continued...