By Tom Kessler
Green Right Now
When it comes to clogged drains, it’s been a struggle to find an effective alternative to the many harsh chemicals that most people rely on to break up trapped debris. But a Houston company has developed a product that is brilliant in its simplicity and has the added benefit of being as green as you can get where brownish goop is involved.
The PermaFLOW Self Cleaning Drain by PF WaterWorks has already won the Best of What’s New Award from Popular Science. It replaces an existing P-trap — that curved section of pipe just below your sink — with an improved version that has been engineered to eliminate the need for secondary maintenance products and procedures such as plunging, caustic drain cleaners and messy drain dis-assembly.
We installed one in about 10 minutes and found it to be easy and effective. The PermaFLOW has a couple of unique characteristics that are hugely helpful. The first is that it is made of clear plastic, which allows you to actually see the problem you have or — more importantly — see the problem that you are about to have. Second, the device includes a swiper that you turn with a knob, which helps you sweep through debris before a major clog can occur.
These are improvements that are “duh” obvious and yet no one else appears to have re-thought the classic P-trap in this innovative way. (PF WaterWorks has a patent on the design).
Created by two serial inventors who are happy to remain behind the scenes, the PermaFLOW has one other critical design detail. “The shape of the plastic generates significant turbulence and actually pushes debris out, so you don’t have any debris settling in the trap area,” says Sanjay Ahuja, vice president of PF WaterWorks.
He also points out that the design works particularly well with low-flow faucets, something that most environmentally-aware consumers eventually get around to installing.
And while we were unabashedly impressed by how well the PermaFLOW works, Ahuja says he gets fan mail and calls for the new product all the time.
“I had a woman who called me from the West Coast and she said, ‘I want to order two more of these. One for me and one for God,’ ” says Ahuja, laughing.
The PermaFlow is available for $29.95 through Amazon.com. You also can buy directly from the PermaFLOW site. Ahuja says Home Depot is rolling it out in select stores and he expects it will be available through most major home improvement retailers by early 2010.
View a demonstration of the PermaFLOW: