Problem: clogged drain in the galley sink.
Solution: No Drano allowed.
Biodegradable options only! We attempted four potential solutions. The most disgusting one worked. Find out how we did it!
Attempt #1: Seacock
Damian was still asleep, and I wanted to wash the dishes from the night before and start breakfast, but our galley drain was clogged. So the first thing I did was search for the seacock that connected to the galley drain’s hose. A seacock is a handle attached to a valve in a pipe that opens or closes it. Perhaps the seacock was bumped, so it accidentally closed not enabling the sink to properly drained.
Locating the seacock is not an easy task. Boat compartments under sinks and in lockers are small. Trying to see inside of them and follow where a hose is going requires patience and flexibility to fit your body into tight (and sometimes twisted) spaces. I started by following the hose under the sink and realized that it was heading under the cabinet. So I pulled up the cushions on the settee attached to our galley on the opposite side and searched for the seacock with a flashlight. It’s dark in there! Besides, the hose ran far back behind our engine.
And that’s when Damian woke up. He kept encouraging me to keep looking, but my patience was running out. So he looked into the compartment and found it. The seacock was open. So cross that solution off the list. We’d have to try something else.
Attempt #2: Plunger
I keep a tiny plunger in the cabinet above our toilet in the head. So now was the time to pull it out and attempt to use it in our sink. Perhaps the pressure would remove the blockage in the hose to unclog the sink? Damian used it to no avail. On to another idea!
Attempt #3: Boiling water
This was Damian’s idea! We had tried the night before when we noticed the drain was initially clogged, but it had not worked. So we decided to try it again. We knew the culprit of the clog was grease from the hamburger meat we had cooked the night before for dinner. My wonderful husband had volunteered to do the dishes for me and had dumped the grease down the drain–not realizing the havoc it would cause.
We filled our percolator with water and set it on the stove. Once the water had boiled we poured it down the drain, hoping to loosen the thickened grease with the heat of the water. But nothing happened.
There was only one more thing we knew to do. It was the least appealing option, and we both knew it would make a mess. But nothing else had worked, so it was time to clean out the hose by hand!
Attempt #4: Clean out the hose
I used a flathead screwdriver to unscrew the metal clamp that held the hose to the pipe. We knew as soon as we unscrewed it all the water and yuck from the clogged sink would rush out. So we prepared for the flood with pots to catch the water. After the clamp was loosened, I pulled the hose away the pipe and a waterfall of sink water began to chute out from the hose with more force than I was ready for.
I screamed! Water continued to pour out and soak me and the cabinet under the sink. In my panic, I wondered if it would sink the boat! We filled our biggest pot with water and yuck. And then another. I had not realized how much water would come out. We have a double sink and both sides had been full of dirty dishwater.
And then we found the perpetrator of the clog: solidified grease. Gross! We pulled it out in chunks. They looked like huge wads of off-white ear wax. At least a cup full of this stuff came out as we stuck our fingers up the hose to pull it out. Then to verify that the drain was unclogged, we put some more water down the drain, and it came out without a problem. Success.
Lesson learned: do not dump grease down your drain, especially aboard a boat!
Plumbers beware! We now know that we can unclog our own drain–even doing the messy work!