Posts Tagged ‘drain cleaning’

Dos and Don’ts of DIY Drain Cleaning

September 18th, 2012

If you have indoor plumbing as many modern homes do, you will eventually be plagued with stopped-up drains.  In the best of circumstances, it is a minor annoyance; in the worst of circumstances—say, during a family gathering or house party—it can be catastrophic.

However, there is no need to panic.  There are plenty of do-it–yourself remedies you can try before calling a plumber.  But, be aware that the methods and tools needed vary according to which drains are affected.

Using a Plunger to Unclog Drains

It is always better to use environmentally friendly solutions when possible.  One tool no home should be without is a basic plunger.  Used since the late 1800s, a plunger is the first line of defense for any drain blockage.  This simple device is effective on any drain and can often solve the problem in a matter of seconds.

A plunger works by creating suction in the offending drain.  The procedure is the same for any drain in the home.  Make sure there is enough water – in the toilet bowl, sink or tub – to fill the plunger cup.  After ensuring a tight seal, vigorously work the plunger in an up-and-down motion for approximately 15 seconds, releasing it sharply from the drain on the last stroke.

When done properly, you will feel water moving in the drain.  This movement will either push or pull the clog out of the pipe, allowing the water to flow freely through the trap.  Several attempts may be necessary to clear the line.

What if the Drain is Still Clogged?

When dealing with a toilet that will not unclog, it is possible that an object such as a washcloth or a child’s toy may be stuck in the trap.  In this situation, you will need a commode auger to clear the obstruction.  Augers are tools designed to fit into toilet bowls and grasp the object, allowing it to be removed.

For sinks and tubs, a mixture of vinegar and baking soda poured directly into the drain will cause a chemical reaction that should usually clear the pipe.  After letting the mixture work for several minutes, flush the drain with a large container of boiling water.  This will remove hair, soap scum and even grease build-up, which are often the primary causes of sluggish draining.

Can Chemical Drain Cleaners Be Safely Used?

If the eco-friendly measures are unsuccessful, the clog may require a stronger, chemical drain-clearing agent.  At this point, it is worthwhile to call a professional plumber as most commercial products contain lye or hydrochloric acid and can be dangerous.  Using the wrong product—or the wrong amount—can seriously damage your septic system.  Safety should always be priority, and the cost of a new sewer system will greatly outweigh the cost of a plumber.  In this situation, be smart and contact your local plumber for help.