When a drain becomes clogged, it’s an annoyance because we use our kitchen and bathrooms every day. When the sink drains slowly, it’s a sign that a clog is forming and eventually it will fill the entire drain. At this point, the water will not drain at all and you’re left with a sink or tub of dirty water that must be removed manually. Clearing the drain is a priority, but there are different approaches and serious drain clogs may require professional intervention. In this article, we will offer some advice on clearing different types of drains.
A Cautionary Note About Chemical Drain Cleaners
The first response to a clogged drain for many homeowners is a store bought chemical drain cleaning product. This is understandable, it’s easy to use, set and forget it and it seems to get the job done quickly. But, no professional plumber will ever use a chemical drain cleaner to clear any drain clog. Why? Well for starters they contain caustic chemical agents that can burn your skin if them come into contact with your hands, But, that same property can equally be applied to the inner surfaces of your pipes. Chemical cleaners will damage your plumbing pipes leading to an earlier than expect replacement. Another major problem is that these products don’t truly get rid of the entire clog and they always seem to return later. Many homeowners add more drain cleaner to fix the problem and the cycle of pipe damage continues. A local plumber will always prefer a manual removal method to break apart the clog and flush it away.
3 Key Drains Areas and How to Clear Them
Let’s take a look at three key areas in your home where you have drains and how to clear them safely, they are:
1. The Bathroom
The usual causes of bathroom drain clogs are toothpaste and longer hair. When these two things combine and water is added, they turn solid in the drain. A fast fix is to put the plug in the sink, fill it with hot water and take the plug out again. The rush of a sinkful of hot water may melt the clog and then flush it out into the drain. If the drain clog is still present, run the water and use a cup plunger to change the pressure in the line. If this is unsuccessful, try using a plumbing augur (snake) to break apart the clog.
2. The Toilet
The toilet is designed to remove toilet paper and human waste only. Some people use their toilet as a type of trash can and it’s a major source of drain clogs in many homes. Both toilet paper and human waste are biodegradable and they break down in the drain very quickly. Common items that cause toilet clogs, include: kitchen paper, “flushable wipes”, sanitary products, used diapers, dental floss and others. The so called “flushable wipes” deserve an extra mention because even the name is deceptive. These wipes are a very common cause of toilet clogs, they don’t break down and they tangle with other waste. A special toilet plunger has a rubber flange around the rim to deal with curved surfaces. If this cannot remove the clog it time to try the plumbing snake. If this doesn’t work, it’s time to contact your local licensed and certified plumber.
3. The Kitchen Drain
Dealing with a kitchen drain clog is a priority because the kitchen sink is in almost constant use throughout the day. The common causes of these clogs is a combination of food scraps, grease and soap scum. Installing a drain cover and avoiding placing these substances in the drain is a great preventative measure. To clean the clog, pour a mix of very hot (not boiling) water and liquid dish soap into the drain. This may soften the clog and you can remove the remnants with a dish liquid that includes a grease remover. If this tactic fails it’s time to switch to the plunger with the hot water tap running. Another solution is to create your own kind drain remover, pour baking soda in the drain followed with a cup of white vinegar. Leave this mixture to foam for 20 minutes and then run the hot water tap. This process can be repeated multiple times, but if it fails, it’s time to contact your local plumber.
Can Bleach Unclog Drains?
Bleach is an effective cleaner, but it cannot unclog a drain and yet it’s use is recommended by plumbers. Unscented bleach is effective as a drain deodorizer to keep any bacteria and germs at bay. Simply pour a ¾ cup of bleach in the drain each month and you will notice that the rooms that have drains smell fresher.
Four Effective Drain Clearing Tools
Plumbers use a variety of specialized tools to clean drains and some of them are available at your local home improvement store, they are:
1. A Cup Plunger
This is a simple rubber cup on a handle that you place over the drain and move up and down to change the pressure in the drain line. A toilet plunger looks similar, but it has an extra rubber flange around the edge to cope with curves in the toilet.
2. A Plumbing Augur
This tool is commonly referred to as a “plumbing snake” and there a various types and sizes available for sale. This tool has a drill bit on the business end and a crank at the handle. The augur is fed into the drain until it bumps up against the clog and then the handle is turned to break the clog apart.
Although this tool can be hired it’s not advisable if you have no formal plumbing training. Essentially, it’s a high-powered pressure hose that forces the clog out of the drain. An inspection is needed before it’s used because it can damage weak plumbing systems. This method is reserved for persistent clogs that are hard to remove without professional help.
4. A Drain Line Camera
This is a fiber optic camera that can be fed into the drain to show the inside of the line. The images are sent to a small monitor that the plumber can use to interpret them. This is useful if an underlying root intrusion or drain line collapse is preventing multiple drains from draining correctly.
If you’re experiencing a drain clog problem with one or more drains, contact your local professional plumber today.