Common Mistakes to Avoid When Drain Cleaning
When your drains become clogged with debris, the next logical step is to attempt some form of drain cleaning. Unfortunately, drain cleaning is not all that straightforward, and if you do not know what you are doing, you could cause permanent damage to your pipes. While drain cleaning should be left to the professionals if you do want to give DIY drain cleaning a try, here are some common mistakes you should avoid.
A drain auger (or drain snake) can be a very effective tool for removing clogs and blockages in the hands of an experienced professional. Unfortunately, mastering a drain auger takes time and practice. Just picking up an auger at your BIG BOX store and going wild with your drain cleaning could end up causing a great deal of damage to your pipes. The corkscrew action of an auger can crack or break pipes, especially if the pipe has already suffered previous damage. Additionally, if you are looking to clean larger pipes, your newly purchased drain auger will be completely ineffective.
Using Chemical Cleaners
There is a massive selection of chemical cleaners available on the market, but unfortunately, these are not likely to help your drains at all. Most chemical cleaners just don’t do what they claim to be able to do on the label. If the cleaner is harsh enough to dissolve a blockage, it is likely to be so corrosive that it will damage the inside of the pipes as well. The most hazardous aspect of chemical cleaners is that they can be hazardous to anyone who works on your pipes. If you call in a plumber to resolve your blocked drain after using a chemical cleaner, you need to let them know what product you used so that the plumber can avoid fumes and dangerous chemical burns.
Using a Garden Hose
While you may have watched plumbers using pressurized hoses to clear drains (a practice know as Hydro-Jetting,) this is not the same as an ordinary garden hose. The water pressure from your hose is not sufficient to remove any debris in the drain. In fact, you are more likely to cause flooding as you add more water into an already obstructed pipe. The average garden hose can deliver as much as 6 gallons per minute, so very quickly you could be adding more water than your constricted pipe can handle.
Using Coat Hangers
While this may seem like common sense, it is amazing how many homeowners attempt to remove blockages using an unbent coat hanger. If your plunger has failed to dislodge a blockage, you are not likely to achieve anything by poking around with a metal coat hanger. Coat hangers should be kept in the closet as they are a frustrating and ineffective method of drain cleaning any pipe. In fact, there is a strong possibility that you could wedge the coat hanger in the pipe and cause even greater damage.
Drain cleaning is an effective form of preventative maintenance to avoid flooding in your home. Unfortunately, unless you have the skills and experience, this task should be left in the hands of a professional drain expert. Experienced plumbers have the tools and skills to quickly and effectively ensure that your drains are free of obstructions.
By Giovanni Longo President Flood Brothers Plumbing
Giovanni Longo is a 3rd generation master plumber who has been practicing his craft and trade in the greater Los Angeles area for well over a decade and a half. A plumbing and hydraulics-engineering innovator, Giovanni’s particular world-class expertise focuses on dealing with challenging sewer system designs as well as resolving complex commercial and residential draining issues. As a certified Flood Mitigation expert, he is also well versed in a wide variety of water damage and remediation solutions.