Clogged drains are a pain for homeowners and renters alike, with shared sewer lines and uncooperative housemates ignoring the simple rules of what not to put down your drain. Clogs are a fact of life, but dealing with them involves many angles of attack - some more effective than others. Here's what we'd recommend you should use to unclog your drains and a few techniques to avoid.
How to fix common household clogs:
Wires and Boiling Water
For the most surface-level clogs, the only tools you may require are a bent wire clothes hanger and a pot of boiling water. By removing hair or debris from the drain's surface or bend, it'll let more water to enter the drain on the short-term. Just be sure to be careful and avoid putting the wire all the way down the drain, or you could damage your pipes. Hopefully the clog is only surface-level, but to help things move along, pouring boiling water down the drain should do the trick.
Remember, though - if you have PVC pipes, the boiling water may do damage to the joints in your pipes. Opt for warm water instead.
Homemade Drain Cleaner
Non-corrosive drain cleaner is pretty easy to make, actually. If you know that your clog is due to a build-up of grease, mixing together vinegar and baking soda will break down the grease and flush it out of the system.
This is a great recipe to use in your clogged drain. Using a half-cup of baking soda to start, pour 1/2 cup of vinegar after it and cover the opening so the mixture is forced downward. Use the second half after the fizzing stops and wait about 15 minutes, then flush with a gallon of boiling water.
Use a Snake
A revolutionary tool in the plumbing world, a snake inserts from the drain's opening and "snakes" through the pipes in your home, grabbing around the edges and removing any debris it comes across. A snake with a crank mechanism will get through to deeper clogs, so continue to push the cable through and remove it, rinsing and repeating (seriously, clean the line as you pull - it'll likely be a messy operation).
Don't forget! If your sink includes a disposal, disassemble and clean it before you attempt to unclog your drain. Here's a handy guide to disassembling your disposal and using a snake without interfering with the mechanism itself.
Methods to Avoid
An end-all, be-all solution to clogged or slow drains, Draino and other industrial-strength clog removers are meant to be a simple and effective method of clearing clogged drains. Unfortunately, many of these chemical cleaners are corrosive to your pipes and bad for the water supply, so we wouldn't recommend them unless every other method has failed.
Using a Toilet Plunger
Toilet plungers are designed for toilets - hence the name. Sinks and sewer drains have plungers designed for that purpose, so look for a plunger with a cupped or bowl-shaped head to ensure a proper seal. Toilet plungers don't get the right seal and could further complicate your problem if the clog isn't cleared. Plus, it's gross to use a bathroom tool in the kitchen, so just avoid that entirely.
Using Sharp Objects
Don't try and put sharp objects down your drain in an attempt to unclog debris. Regardless of how ineffective it is, it can actually cause damage to your pipes and you may accidentally drop the item down the drain itself, further complicating your issue.
How to Fix a Slow Draining Tub
If you’re having tub problems, here are a few tips for fixing a slow draining bathtub. More often than not, the calls we get for clogged drains don't warrant a service call. If you're willing to get your hands a little dirty (or at least put on some rubber gloves), there are some cost-effective ways of unclogging a fussy drain or slow-draining tub.
Fix #1: Baking Soda, Salt, and Vinegar
Not for the chemically conscious or those with older, possibly corroded pipes, this solution should break down whatever's holding back water in your drain. One cup of baking soda combined with a cup of vinegar (and an optional cup of salt for scraping capability) should do the trick. The key here is to combine it all in the drain itself rather than beforehand or else you'll get a nice mess to clean up. Give the solution about 10 minutes to clear out then flush the solution with boiling water.
Fix #2: The Manual Unclogging
Certainly the most unpleasant method, this involves disassembling the drain and pulling out whatever gunk is caught in the drain itself. You'll want a screwdriver to disassemble the drain mechanism and a small hook or disassembled clothes hanger to pull out clogged hair from deeper within the drain. The process differs depending on what drain type you have, so do some research to determine which is which.
Fix #3: Use a Plumbing Snake
This is a heavy-duty solution to a serious clog. A plumbing snake is a pretty inexpensive tool, but is critical to home plumbing remedies. Using a crank, the snake bores through tough clogs around the inside of a pipe and clears out junk through even the toughest blockage. For extra power, you can use an electrical crank to really dig through the gunk.
If none of these solutions work, it's time to call the plumber. Here’s what we can help with:
For many years now, Pioneer Plumbing has been providing plumbing services to the Greater Seattle area. When our customers experience the frustration and mess caused by clogged drains, we offer the expertise necessary to clear them and get your plumbing running smoothly again.
Pioneer Plumbing can unclog just about any type of plumbing blockage, including:
When the sink in the kitchen gets blocked up by food, your garbage disposal is clogged with kitchen debris, or your bathroom sink is congested with hair and skincare residue, sometimes taking the sink apart will not dislodge the clog. Plumbing professionals like our technicians at Pioneer Plumbing have the knowledge and skill to clear sink clogs and get your kitchen or bathroom sink draining smoothly again.
After months of shampooing and conditioning your hair and/or shaving your legs, the bathtub drain can get clogged with hair and product residue. Sometimes, a bathtub clog is as easy to clear as removing the drain stopper, and pulling out the clog-causing debris. However, you will need to be careful not to accidentally push the clog deeper into your tub’s drain – which would worsen the problem. A professional plumbing company such as Pioneer Plumbing would help to remove the clog without causing more congestion or harming your pipes.
A backup in toilet plumbing can be a homeowner or resident’s worst nightmare. If a plunger won’t do the trick to dislodge a clog, it’s time to call a professional plumber to deal with the restroom disaster. Leaving a toilet clogged for several days can make the nightmare worse, with fetid odors, sewage leaks, water damage, and more. Contact a professional plumber to manage your toilet clog before the problem gets out of control.
Homes often have drains in their yard or out at the street to carry rainwater away from the home and prevent damage to your house or foundation. After seasons of yard waste and debris falling on these drains, they can get clogged. If sweeping away the leaves, sticks and other debris does not solve the congestion, contact Pioneer Plumbing to solve the problem.
Our team of skilled plumbing professionals is able to handle just about any plumbing problem or clogged drains. Please contact us for more information about our services, or to schedule your plumbing service.