Slow Drain – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis – Get It Done

My bathroom vanity drain seems to be draining slower than usual. Is there something I can do to check this out?

Vanity drains have a tendency to clog up after time. If you think about it, it’s only normal. Soap scum, hair (especially if someone shaves in this sink), etc. will leave residue that can collect on the inside of the pipes, especially the p-trap. The p-trap is the curved piece just under the drain. Normally, this is an easy job to disconnect and clean.

Begin by having a small bucket or pan so that water still in the p-trap won’t spill onto the floor. You won’t have to shut the water off, since we’re only dealing with the drain. If the p-trap is PVC (white plastic), you may not even need a wrench. If the trap is chrome (metal), you probably will need a pair of channel lock pliers.

Loosen the nuts for the p-trap. When this is done, you should be able to remove it, but be careful, there will be water in this curved pipe. Let the water empty into the bucket. You’ll then be able to see if the pipe is dirty and filled with debris.

You’ll need to wash this out, but be sure not to do it in the sink you’re working on, since you’ve just disconnected the drain. Once you’ve done that, just put it back into place, tighten the nuts, then check for leaks after running the water.

Knowing how to do this can be very helpful, not only in keeping the drain flowing, but also if you would ever happen to drop something down the drain. We’ve all heard the story of a wedding ring being dropped down the sink!

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Birds Roosting – Get It Done – Ask THE Handyman St. Louis

Now that the birds have left their roosting spot above my front door, I’m determined to find a way to keep them from nesting here again next year.  The mess is terrible.  Any suggestions?

Oh, how I know the feeling.  We love our wildlife, right up to the moment they invade our garden or home!  There are a number of possibilities as a deterrent.  Some people have used a plastic snake, laying it on the perch area.  This can work for a while, but birds can be smart.  If they see the snake hasn’t moved for a few days, they could investigate further and attempt to push the snake off.  A fake owl is another possibility.  Having it perch in a nearby area can detract the birds, again perhaps for a while, perhaps for all season.  These snakes and owls can be purchased at many hardware stores, or even at the gardening store.

For birds, I have also found a great product that will work most every time.  It is a product that you install on the perch.  It has plastic (or metal) barbs, which will prevent the birds from landing.  These barbs won’t hurt the birds, even if they attempt to land.  They’ll just move on.  The company I am familiar with is NIXALITE.  Their web site is, and their phone number is 800-624-1189.  The only downside I’ve found is that in certain locations where the product is visible, it can look unattractive.

As to birds or other animals getting into the home, there are several things to be aware of.  First, how are they getting in?  Sometimes, it’s difficult to find out and looking around on the ladder or roof may not show the entry spot.  If this is the case, I would suggest going up into the attic, during the daytime,  then looking for an area of light to the outside.  This will usually let you discover the hole.  However, if this doesn’t work, take a look at the gable vents.  Usually, there will be a screen (like a window screen – which can be torn easily, allowing entry).  If this screen is ripped or missing, you’ll want to replace it.  I will usually use a hardware cloth, which is like chicken wire, only stronger and with smaller holes.  This can be purchase at hardware stores.  It can be cut to size with wire cutters, but be sure to wear gloves.  The easiest and best way to attach the screening in the attic is to use a staple gun.

And if need be, there is always yelling and banging pots – but that probably won’t make your neighbors happy!


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