How to Unclog Your Drains

Updated 1/18/21

Clogged drains are never ideal. They smell bad and they cause a lot of problems in your house, such as the bathroom not draining or a backed-up kitchen sink from the garbage disposal. When all pipes in the house clogged, it can feel hopeless. While calling a plumber is likely your best bet, there are some options you have at your disposal to fix it yourself. There are different ways that you can clear your clogged drains at home.

A toilet plunger is a useful tool that is not only for the toilet. You can also use it on a sink drain or your bathtub. This can clear a number of drain problems, even clogs that seem to be a major problem. Another solution is a commercial drain cleaner. While these can be caustic, they can also be an extremely effective way to deal with a bathroom not draining. Should you try these things and they don’t work, then it is time to consider bringing in a plumber. The clog might be farther down in the pipes and the plumber will have the tools to take care of it. So try it on your own first, but don’t be afraid to bring in the professionals.

Kitchen sinks and shower drains are the drains that are most likely to get clogged in your home, so clearing clogged drains could be a regular occurrence. Once this happens — and it eventually will, given enough time — you will need to know how to clean clogged drains effectively. Here are the simple steps you should take:

Step 1. Cover the overflow opening of your sink or make sure to put towels down around the bathtub or toilet if there is no overflow opening. To plug the overflow opening, use a wet cloth as this will ensure that the opening stays sealed. If the cloth is dry, the water will shrink the cloth, causing it to no longer fit in the opening.

Step 2. Fill the basin with water so that it covers the plunger you intend on using. If your plunger isn’t a stellar performer, cover the lip of it with petroleum jelly for a more adhesive seal (you may want to invest in a pair of waterproof cleaning gloves).

Place the plunger over the drain opening and rapidly push the plunger up and down. As you do so, you should both feel and hear water move in and out of the drain. Depending on how clogged it is, this could be more or less water. After about 30 seconds of plunging, jerk the plunger up quickly; the water should hopefully rush out. If not, repeat the steps.

Step 3. If you find yourself exhausted and your drain still clogged, don’t call a residential plumber just yet. Instead, use a chemical drain opener. Some of these chemicals can be bad for your drain pipes, so be sure to know what material your pipes are made of and what chemicals are in the unclogging agent.

If you don’t want to use chemicals, use a drain-and-trap auger, a long thin tool inserted into drains to unclog the blockage. To use this, first remove the popup stopper or strainer from your drain and feel the auger wire into the opening. As you are putting the wire into the drain, crank the handle attached to the tool. If the wire reaches a blockage, move it back and forth while you turn the auger handle. As you withdraw the tool, continue to turn the handle to loosen any other potential blockage.

Last Resort: If clearing clogged drains with these two methods does not work, this is when to hire a plumber. The plumbing industry is expected to grow 22% from 2012 to 2022, but this is due to home owners not understanding how to take care of their drains. When cleaning your toilet, be sure to inspect the exterior for damage or leaking to avoid expensive repairs. Simple routine checks like this can prevent costly blunders down the road. Continue reading here:


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