Belly Up Frogs: how do I unblock a sink.

The sink isn't draining away. I climb up on to the edge of the bath and hang out the window. I turn on the bath taps and watch to see if it’s blocked outside. The water flows from the outlet into the down pipe and out into the gutter. It’s definitely the sink; a blockage in the mysteries behind the pedestal.

I mention it to Mark when he gets in. He goes into the bathroom and runs the taps. There is no plug in, but the sink starts to fill.

“Yeah,” he says. “It’s blocked.”


Mark wipes his hands on the towel.

“Well what do we do?” I ask.

“Buy some drain unblocker.”

In Tesco I furtively pick up a bottle of 15 Minute Sink Unblocker. The bottle is black; it has a red lid, red writing on the label. Everything about it says: ‘I kill aquatic life’. I put the bottle back. Don’t ecover do something to unblock sinks? I scour the shelves. Nothing looks remotely green. I pick up the bottle again and hide it in my basket under a loaf of bread.

Mark decants the bottle down the plug hole. True to its word , the liquid clears the sink in 15 minutes. In my mind, I see fish and frogs floating on the surface of ponds, belly up, dead.

Two weeks later the sink is blocked once more.

“I’m not buying that stuff again. It’s just wrong,” I protest.

Mark looks at the toothpastey water in the sink. “What are you going to do then?”

“There must be another way. Can’t we change the trap or something?”

“I’ll add it to my list of things to do.”

I was in the hardware store on the High Street when I saw it: a simple construction, in varnished wood and brick-red rubber; a thing I had not seen since childhood. I carried it to the counter proudly.

At home, I flourished the plunger triumphantly at Mark.

“Remember these?”

I am smiling as I hear the wheeze and choke of the plunger from the bathroom. I go to look and the children come too. Mark is working the wooden handle up and down and black flakes are floating in grimy water.

“What are you doing, Daddy?” ask the children.

Wheeze. Choke. Wheeze. Cough. Splutter. Gurgle. The waste pipe sounds like an old man with catarrh.

“Is it working?” I say. I am ready with an armoury of ‘pump harder’, ‘change your technique’, ‘shall I Google it?’ and ‘think of the fish’ in case of spousely discouragement.

Mark stops plunging.

“Can I have a go? Can I have a go?” shouts Robin. But there is no need. The water has drained away.

It’s not the perfect solution. The sound of the plunger has become commonplace in our bathroom. I’ve found that Ecover do sell a drain unblocker - available from BigGreenSmile.com though I haven't tested it. And you could try cleaning out the trap – this is the u shaped tube that connects your sink to the wastewater pipe; there’s no need to call a plumber, it is a fairly easy job and you can find advice on youtube.

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Emma is a columnist and feature writer for Liberti Magazine.

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