Got a clog? What a hassle. No matter where it is – sink, shower, tub or toilet – it’s never good news. But before you reach for the phone to call a plumber, why not give it a go and try and unclog it yourself? Kitchen sinks can get clogged from food, grease and soap residue. Shower and tub drains fall victim to hair and soap goo. And toilet drains, well, you know what clogs them. Even if you’re not well versed in home repair and improvement, you can usually unclog a drain in just a few steps. Try these DIY solutions:
#1 Plunge It
Plungers aren’t just for the toilet drain – they can be used on any clogged drain. After you use your plunger, you should clean and sanitize it so it can be used on any drain at any time. For a plunger to work properly, there needs to be water in it. In a sink or toilet, you’ll need the tub about half full. For a clogged tub drain, add enough water to make it four or five inches deep. Cover the drain with the plunger, press down and pull up repeatedly for 30 to 40 seconds. If the water all gushes out, you’re clear. If it drains partially, add more water and repeat until you have clear flow.
#2 Clean the Trap
For a clogged sink, you can try clearing the trap. Under the sink, there’s a U-shaped pipe – your clog may be located there. Get a bucket and put it under the pipe to catch any water that spills out. See if the pipe has a clean-out plug – it’s a plug at the bottom of the u-bend. If so, pull it out and let any water spill out. Use an unwound wire coat hanger or other long flexible object into both sides of the U to clear it out. If there’s no plug, you’ll need to unscrew the pipe, detach it, clear the trap and then insert a hanger up into the pipe to try and clear anything else that may be clogging the pipe.
#3 Drain Snake
If the plunger doesn’t do it and you’ve tried cleaning the trap (or it’s a clog without a trap) you may need to try a drain snake. These are $5-$15 at big box stores. Pull out the sink stopper, tub screen or hair trap (if any) and then push the drain snake down into the drain rotating it clockwise as you push it in and you’ll have to push harder to get it past the u-bend. When you hit the clog, you should feel some give. Work the snake back and forth and try to break up the clog. Slowly pull the snake back out bringing the clog with you. Repeat until clear. If you can’t reach it, you may need a longer snake.
#4 Hot Water
If the clog is caused by grease or anything that will be soluble under higher heat, this may work. Boil a tea kettle or pot full of water. Pour slowly down the drain, but not all at once. Pour a couple of cups down and wait to see what happens, then pour some more, then some more. Don’t use boiling water on PVC pipes and don’t pour it directly on a porcelain surface. Aim straight down the drain. Only try this approach if you have metal pipes. If you’re not sure (like in a shower or tub because you can’t see the pipes) try another solution so you don’t risk the integrity of any PVC pipes.
#5 Try Some Soda Pop
You may not believe it if you’re a Coke or Pepsi fan, but soda is quite corrosive. It will eat the finish off your car and can similarly dissolved what’s stopping up your drain. You want room temperature non-diet soda – preferably a two liter. Pour it down the drain and leave it to work for an hour or two. The phosphoric acid in soda can dissolve even calcium build-up in your pipes. A can of soda is as effective as a chemical drain cleaner without the worries about splashing it in your eyes or on your skin and causing burns. Let the soda work, then rinse the drain with hot water.
Final Tip – Keeping Your Drains Clear
If you have a drain that habitually clogs, you can do maintenance on it to try and prevent future clogs. Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar (poured slowly). Do this once every couple of weeks to try and prevent future build-up. And don’t throw away half-full soda pop bottles, pour them down the drain to let the phosphoric acid dissolve any developing clogs.
If you’ve tried these DIY steps and can’t get your drain unclogged, you need a professional. Contact Budget Sewer for plumbing services and repair in the Seattle metro area. We are BBB accredited and have five star ratings on both Judy’s Book and Yelp. Call us now for a free estimate.