Advice from a Plumber's Wife
"What the?! Why are there FLIES coming out of my drain?!" Or, a question I had never heard before.
When you're married to a plumber, you hear all sorts of troubling questions, and a lot of them aren't very pleasant. Most people visit their friends and discuss politics or sports or hobbies. Quite often, we end up discussing clogs and leaks and weird noises. It's fine, we love our friends, but one of them recently asked Jon about little flies living in her drain. That one blew my mind! It was something that I didn't even know could happen, but it turns out, there is a little booger that loves it when we clog our drains.
So we were standing around in my friend's (very tidy) kitchen having a wonderful conversation, when all of the sudden, she sees a fly, and gets really irritated. "We've tried everything! Liquid drain cleaner, bleach, EVERYTHING and these stupid flies won't go away!," she tells us. I try to fake nonchalance, but I'm full of questions. Primarily, what manner of monster, lives in drains and can't be killed by drain cleaner?! It turns out this cute, fuzzy little guy is almost indestructible. When a meteor hit the planet and destroyed all the dinosaurs, these little guys did just fine. What chance does your liquid drain cleaner have, honestly?
Good news: they don't carry diseases, so while it's really gross to
know that flies are spawning in your drains, they won't hurt you. Better
news: you can actually get rid of them. These guys grow on anything
that is wet: soap scum, food particles, hair, grease, etc.
This is one time when organic material is the enemy, and it has to go.
The larvae are only 4 millimeters, so try to imagine how little material
they need to survive. Plunging the organic material down doesn't help
because it isn't all removed. It gets stuck in places like the garbage
disposal and the sink stopper in the bathroom. Drain cleaners don't remove organic material either, so as long as there is any material in your drain, you can have drain flies. You've got to remove their breeding ground.
To get rid of them, you have to break down the drain pipes and physically clean them out, removing whatever is in the drain. Once the pipes are clean, all the larvae will die, but the flies can still live up to a month, so if you want to get rid of the adults more quickly, which are about the size of a pinky nail, you'll have to pull out your magnifying glass and handy fly swatter. Happy hunting!