Popular Methods to Fix a Slow Drain

A slow running drain can be a real pain. When water seems to take forever to drain, you may notice a greasy residue that is left behind in your sinks, shower stall or bathtub when the water eventually runs out.

If you have one slow running drain in your home, the problem is localized in that area, but if you have more slow running drains, you are likely to have a far bigger problem, since your septic system may be backing up. In this case, you will need professional help. Fortunately, if you have just one slow running drain, we have some popular methods you can try to resolve the issue yourself.

The Natural Method:

While there are any number of ways to address a slow drain, if you prefer to keep things natural, there are some effective old time remedies. It is also likely that you already have the key components in your pantry.

Firstly, pour half a cup of regular table salt into the drain, followed by half a cup of baking soda. Allow this to sit in the drain for a few minutes and then pour in half a cup of white vinegar. This will froth up, so don’t worry, it is part of the cleaning reaction. Allow the mixture to sit in your drain for approximately twenty minutes.

After this time, you can pour hot tap water or cooled water from your kettle. Avoid pouring boiling water down the drain, as you could cause scalding if the water bubbles back out of the drain and it could cause damage. Pour the water slowly and steadily into the drain for a minute or two. This should clear any partial clogs in the drain, but you can repeat the process if needed.

Try a Plunger:

The plunger is a tried and true way to clear a slow running drain. It works by altering the pressure inside the drain, which may be sufficient to cause a clog to shift. You can purchase various sizes of plungers, with some specifically designed for toilets or larger sink drains.

Before you start using a plunger, you’ll need to cover the overflow hole. This is typically on bathroom sinks, but some other types of drains may have an overflow. Use an old rag to fully cover the overflow hole to prevent the pressure you’re creating with the plunger to be diverted via the overflow hole.

Run a little water in your sink or bathtub, and then place the plunger over the clogged drain. You should notice it form a seal, as it creates a suction noise. You can then plunge up and down using short, powerful bursts. You’ll need to repeat this several times. You can then check to see if the water is now draining more quickly. If it is still slow running, repeat the plunging action.

Once the drain is running properly, run hot tap water or slightly cooled water from your kettle into the drain. This will help to remove any remaining residue that may be lingering in the drain.

Use a Drain Snake:

If you are struggling to clear your slow drain using a plunger, you may need to try a manual removal using a drain snake. This is essentially a long tool that has little teeth along the edge to snag any obstructions in the drain. You can find various sizes of drain snakes at home improvement stores.

You will need to feed the snake down into the drain until you feel it hitting the obstruction. You can then turn the snake, which will auger through the clog. This should loosen or break up the clog completely. You can then remove the snake and run hot tap water to clear any debris.

Clean the Stopper:

There are times when your drain stopper gets clogged which can impede water flow. Dirt and hair can build up down its main pipe or on the gasket. You can remedy this with some basic DIY skills.

You’ll need to remove the stopper and clean it, to stop the slow drain. However, you can’t simply pull the stopper out. You will need to look under your sink. There is typically a nut that locks the stopper in place. You can then use a wrench to remove the nut, which will then allow you to lift the stopper from the sink. Once you’ve removed it, you can then remove any hair, debris or built up dirt. Just be sure to rinse the stopper using hot water to clear any residue and discourage mold growth.  You can then put the stopper back in and replace the nut under the sink.

However, some sinks have a more complicated arrangement. You may need to study how the pipes connect under the sink to the stopper.

Clear the Overflow:

The overflow hole is located at the upper sink edge, and it is designed to act as a secondary drain in the event that the main drain is overwhelmed or clogged. Without this overflow, water can “overflow” out of the sink if you have a plumbing issue.

The overflow also allows air to be pushed into the drain and proper air pressure is necessary for the drain to function properly. So, if something is clogging your overflow, your main drain may not be working correctly.

Use a rag to wipe the overflow hole clean and try to move the cloth inside the hole a little to clear any clinging dirt or hair that may be causing a blockage. You may even be able to feed a zip it down into the overflow to catch any hanging debris. This will allow you to pull it out of the overflow and put this debris in the trash. You can then flush with a little water.

If you’ve tried these methods to clear your slow drain and the problem has not been resolved, it may be time to call in the professionals. Professional plumbers have the expertise, experience and specialist tools to tackle more complicated blocked drain issues.