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5.4.1. TRIZ Thinking: The Blocked Sink


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 5. Basic TRIZ > 5.4. TRIZ Thinking > 5.4.1. TRIZ Thinking: The Blocked Sink

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Recently, Graham’s kitchen sink was blocked, so he went for the standard solution, a sink plunger, but it did not work. Solution number two was to use chemicals and hot water. After a long time spent emptying the sink, pouring hot water and dissolving stuff down the plug hole, the sink was still blocked.

So now Graham started using TRIZ thinking. He defined the problem as ‘how to move solid substance in a tube’. The constraint was that he could access the substance only from the sink end or the outside pipe.

What was needed was to create a pressure wave in the fluid sitting over the blockage. The plunger did not create a good pressure wave precisely because it was flexible. Why is it flexible? To create a good seal at the sink. So here is our contradiction. The plunger must be flexible to create the seal which is needed to create the pressure but it also must be solid so it transmits a high-impact the pressure wave.

The next question was how to get a good seal without flexibility. This could be achieved with something which fitted the plughole perfectly. Looking around, a coffee mug was found (it had been there all along). It fitted beautifully and with a single sharp pull, the blockage was removed.

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