DIY tips for clearing a clogged drain
It’s an ominous sign most of us know all too well: You’re standing in the shower and you notice that instead of draining, the water is rising around your feet. Or maybe the kitchen sink takes forever to drain after you do the dishes. Clogged drains are a plague for many a homeowner, but fortunately with a bit of determination you can clear most of them yourself without having to call in a professional.
It’s best to avoid using chemical drain cleaning products, because over time they can corrode your pipes and cause a much bigger hassle. Instead, try out one of these home remedies:
- Boiling water: Sometimes all it takes is some very hot water to clear the path. Be careful not to burn yourself.
- Vinegar and baking soda: If hot water isn’t enough on its own, recreate your middle school volcano project with a mix of equal parts vinegar and baking soda and send it down the drain. With luck the foam will clear or dislodge the clog.
- The plunger: This is the first tool to try if the clog is in your toilet, but plungers can also be useful in sinks and bathtubs. Just make sure there is some standing water over the drain to create suction, then plunge away.
Break Out the Snake
If those options don’t work, you can roll up your sleeves and go after the clog manually. You’ll need a snake, or a tool that can bend its way through your pipes until it reaches the blockage. If you don’t have a snake, a bent coat hanger may work. If the clog is hidden deep in your pipes, a metal snake with a crank can work its way in, grab onto the blockage, and draw it out.
If your snake doesn’t fit through the crosshatch in the drain, you may be able to remove the drain entirely. Some bathtubs also have an overflow plate below that faucet that you can remove to access the pipes. If in doubt, call a qualified plumber. Don’t risk damaging your drain or fixtures.
Follow basic plumbing hygiene to avoid the problem before it starts:
- Use a screen trap to catch hair and debris in your shower and kitchen sink.
- Scrape food off your dishes into the garbage before you put them in the sink.
- Never dump grease down the sink..
- Don’t flush anything but toilet paper and human waste down the toilet.
Call in the Cavalry
If your efforts are unsuccessful and your drains are still clogged, don’t be embarrassed to call a plumber for help. There may be a blockage beyond your ability to clear, or there could be a much more serious problem like a collapse in your sewer outlet. An experienced professional will diagnose the problem and resolve it for you so your household water is flowing freely again.