A friend of mine emailed me yesterday and asked, "whatever happened with that drain-cleaning bladder?"
Alas, not one of my finer moments.
The drain cleaning bladder was not a total disaster, but could have worked out better, in that it shot stinky drain water all over my kitchen. As it turns out though, there was nothing I could have done - I tried the bladder, I tried the snake, and I tried the plunger, and the combined effect of those "repairs" was to fill my dishwater with water from the drain. I tried the phone.
When I had a professional come out, he determined that the pipes were clogged with 50 years worth of bio-matter, and he cut the entire iron mass off in the basement and replaced it with fresh PVC. It will not clog again for decades, if ever. I'll spare you the pictures of the old pipe, but suffice it to say that you can load the pipes with a ton of food waste between 1952 and 2007. It's almost enough to consider a liquid diet.
I may have hastened the process slightly though by putting some spaghetti down the disposal. It turns out that pasta continues to expand when it is in the pipe, and I had made special 18-inch long brass die-cut spaghetti from Trader Joe's (the rough edges really hold sauce nicely), which plugged it up superbly. Sooner or later though, this was inevitable, and at least now I own a drain snake. And that drain bladder? Turns out that if there is nowhere for the clog to go, that water is coming back at you somehow. And that's one to grow on.