Lost five pounds and spend the day unclogging it.
October 16, 2007 6:57 PM   Subscribe

Why dont they make a "garbage disposal" for my shower drain as well as my toilet? Or do they?

You know, where you flick a switch, and WHIRRRR the clog is ripped to shreds and vanishes.

Googling hasnt shown anything; visits to home stores hasnt turned up anything. You'd think this would be one of the most obvious needs and wants for anyone living under a roof. I'm amazed that no one has made these. Does anyone know of one or has anyone used one? Any ideas where I might be able to get one for both my shower drain and my toilet?
posted by jak68 to Home & Garden (25 answers total)
Kramer did it. There may be safety issues.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 7:00 PM on October 16, 2007

Most people don't have toilet and shower clogs often enough to justify the expense. I've had maybe one shower clog and two toilet clogs in the past 4 or 5 years, and they're easy enough to take care of with a plunger or some drain cleaner.
posted by chrisamiller at 7:01 PM on October 16, 2007

Because it's a lot cheaper simply not to put clogging stuff down your shower drain or toilet? That's what those shower drain traps are for- to catch the hair and bits of soap before they go down the plumbing.

I don't want to know what you are flushing down your toilet that makes a garbage disposal seem like a good idea.

posted by ambrosia at 7:02 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

My guess: Clogs aren't always close to the drain. In the shower, clogs are usually hair, which may get wrapped around blades rather than chopped up by them. In the toilet, constant water would be needed to push clog through the blades. My guess too much pressure would be needed, a plunger or auger would work better to loosen and break it up.

And where should the switch be? Not in the shower I hope.
posted by ALongDecember at 7:05 PM on October 16, 2007

well, I'm in a house right now where the shower drain clogs literally once a week, and the toilet clogs every few days. I think its abnormal too, but the landlady thinks everything is normal. Go figure. But either way you'd think there would be a sizeable market for this, especially for homes like the one I live in. And no one enjoys unclogging toilets or cleaning out yucky hair traps. There HAS to be a large market for this, is my feeling.
Some enterprising individual should make one and position it in the right place. I would happily pay a fortune to have both.
posted by jak68 at 7:14 PM on October 16, 2007

I guess its more of a "clog disposal" that i'm after.
posted by jak68 at 7:16 PM on October 16, 2007

I'm not about to stuff a lot of hair down my kitchen disposal to test this theory, but I think that it might actually clog the disposal. Chopping up hair while also preventing the mechanism itself from getting clogged might be a tricky piece of engineering (since hair loves to wrap around any type of turning axle).

I suspect, probably somewhere in Germany, there's a company selling a shower-drain hair-disposal, but it probably costs a lot and just isn't worth the trouble for most people, when you can get a plastic strainer for $1.99 that does the job.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:25 PM on October 16, 2007

funny, the halfbakery suggested the same idea.

I'd love to find that german company, so to speak.
posted by jak68 at 7:30 PM on October 16, 2007

Have you tried Zip-It? They are great for unclogging shower drains, and they cost about $3. I've seen plumbers charge over $75 to use the same thing.
posted by ALongDecember at 7:38 PM on October 16, 2007 [2 favorites]

jak68: "well, I'm in a house right now where the shower drain clogs literally once a week, and the toilet clogs every few days. I think its abnormal too, but the landlady thinks everything is normal. "

You're right, the landlady is wrong - make her fix it. Plumbing that clogs that often is badly in need of attention and, in the case of the toilet, is a potential health hazard. If she won't fix it, maybe you can report it to the local authorities?
posted by dg at 7:42 PM on October 16, 2007

I just bought a bunch of zip-its, but I'd still want to pay for a switch I can flick. Guess i'm just surprised its not a common thing to have it built-in.
posted by jak68 at 7:42 PM on October 16, 2007

landlady may be wrong, but I think she would sooner make me miserable and force me out rather than shell out the money for fixing it. Although she may not have much choice actually, because its an old manhattan building. I dont know if the neighbors have the same problems, but I wouldnt be surprised if it were a common issue in the building. I suppose I should find out.
posted by jak68 at 7:44 PM on October 16, 2007

google toilet grinder
posted by zeoslap at 7:45 PM on October 16, 2007

jak68, the pipes of renters are not considered worth fixing, and plumbing problems are magnified in apartment buildings as compared to single-family homes. This is annoying and unfair. It does not mean that it will change.
posted by desuetude at 7:49 PM on October 16, 2007

OK, as a landlord, I can tell you that garbage disposals themselves are known to clog and jam. When they do, getting them out can be a pain, and I can't imagine what it would be like if it were in the wall instead of in a sink cabinet.

But mainly, your drain should not be clogging. First of all, get a hair screen for the drain to stop sending stuff down it in the first place. You have to clean it off after every use but it beats a clog. Second, have your landlady use a snake (auger) on the drain. I can all but guarantee this will solve your problem. If it doesn't, call a plumber. The main thing he can bring to the situation is a mechanically-powered snake, or in rare cases, disassembly (e.g. of the drain trap).
posted by dhartung at 8:23 PM on October 16, 2007

Why is there no "Seinfeld" tag?
posted by Exchequer at 8:29 PM on October 16, 2007

zoeslap - "toilet grinder" looks promising, though it seems to be mainly for basement toilets that need sewage to be pumped upwards along relatively thin pipes. It might do the job, but I guess I'm still looking for a proper clog shredder built 'in-line' into the toilet itself.

Funny, this thread is only a couple of hours old, but one of the google matches for "toilet grinder" is zoeslap's post above. ;)

Exchequer - Kramer had the right idea ;) Though I'm not planning on making salads, I just want a clog free bathroom.
posted by jak68 at 8:34 PM on October 16, 2007

Another issue with hooking up a disposal to a toilet or bath tub is the simple problem that those fixtures are installed straight on the ground over the pipes in the foundation or flooring. There usually wouldn't be enough clearance to install something like that unless there was a basement that the pipes went into.
posted by lockle at 9:01 PM on October 16, 2007

Wow, zeoslap. If nothing else, I now know exactly where I'm not staying when in Paris.
posted by mumkin at 9:33 PM on October 16, 2007

They do actually make something like that, but it isn't a permanent fixture. It's called a "snake" and it's something the plumber brings with him. It sounds like that's what you need done. If you're having clogs that often, probably it's because there's a permanent buildup on the sewer pipe, constricting the flow. A snake will fix it.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:18 PM on October 16, 2007

For the clogging shower, there is probably a whole load of hair and skank stuck in the u-bend. If you have access to the u-bend, and you feel adventurous, unscrew it and try to pull out the blockage with a copper wire with a small hook bent into the end.

Otherwise, throw some drain deblocker at it first, rinse, then using the piece of copper wire with a hook stick it down the drain try to hook out the hair.

Be warned, this is truly gross when it comes out. I had to do this regularly in student appartments when sharing with long-haired girls (who didn't like the idea of a plastic filter!)

Frequently clogging toilets are, however, abnormal, unpleasant, and unhygenic.

If your landlady refuses to fix it, either pay for a plumber yourself, if only to do an initial investigatation, (and then look into options for claiming back the cost), or move.
posted by nielm at 1:42 AM on October 17, 2007

clogged sewer pipes or this?
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:36 AM on October 17, 2007

I've hardly had a clogged shower in years... here's why (sounds a little gross but it works): when I'm dealing with my hair, any hair that comes off in my hands gets placed on/stuck to the wall in the shower. I clean that regularly before a shower (if it's dry, it comes off qiute easily). No hair down the drain = little to no clogs!

The only time I DID get a clog was when I stopped doing this for a while for fear that my neat-freak boyfriend would be grossed out by it.
posted by odi.et.amo at 9:41 AM on October 17, 2007

odi.et.amo: I do the same thing! Actually I've found this is one of those common "everyone does it but nobody wants to admit it" things.
posted by radioamy at 8:27 PM on October 17, 2007

update: For now I wound up buying a product called "Profi Pipe Cleaner for Clogged Drains & Pipes" on ebay. (there are a lot of similar products named similar things like "air blaster" and so forth, on amazon as well). I can tell you the "profi pipe" has absolutely worked WONDERS on the shower drain. You never have to touch and gunk and a few blasts with this thing has kept the drain completely clear. Quite amazing.
Just remember to put duct tape around the overflow hole before blasting away, else its not effective. Cover up any holes and its mind-bogglingly effective.
posted by jak68 at 6:36 PM on November 18, 2007

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