When Plungers Fail, Kick It Up a Notch!
Nobody likes having a clogged sink, toilet or tub. For most people, drain clogs rank at or near the top of life’s list of inconveniences. It’s probably a safe bet that you can work a plunger or have had to use an over-the-counter chemical drain cleaner to unclog a problem drain. And in most cases, these time honored drain cleaning tactics will do the job nicely. But when these traditional clog-busting methods don’t work or you’re dealing with a particularly nasty clog, what can you do? Time to pull out the big guns!
Get Physical to Clean the Drain
If you’re tried a plunger or chemical drain cleaner and the clog still hasn’t been cleared, you may need to take a more physical approach. You can purchase a plumbing snake for around $20 at most home improvement or plumbing supply stores. These long, thin tubes go straight down the drain to catch and remove hair, debris and sludge that have caused the clog. If your sink is blocked, clean out the trap and feed the snake into the pipe that way. Try covering the overflow valve to build up pressure that can help blast the clog away.
A power auger is an even more powerful physical option to stubborn clogs. You should only use an auger if you have more than basic plumbing experience so you don’t risk damaging your plumbing. If you don’t feel up to the task yourself, it’s best to call in a professional plumber. The upside of hiring a pro is that he or she can do a whole system inspection to make sure you don’t have to deal with tough clogs again.
The Non-Chemical Approach to Drain Cleaning and Maintenance
Commercial chemical drain cleaners usually contain harsh chemical agents that cause nasty fumes, burn your skin and damage your clothing, floors and surfaces. They can also be quite expensive. For a cheaper, greener approach, a solution of plain old baking soda and vinegar or boiling water can do the trick on many clogs. The most common cause of drain clogs is accumulated hair, so adding a bit of hair removal cream to the drain can help break up the clog.
To maintain a clear drain, use an enzyme culture solution once a month to break down grease and debris; these all-natural, organic products can also eliminate odors from pipes and drains. You can find these products at most home and hardware stores.
If you do go the chemical route, don’t ever mix cleaners; the chemicals can react violently and cause serious damage to pipes or septic systems, not to mention produce harmful vapors.
When All Else Fails, Call The Pros!
If you’ve tried all the above methods to clear your clogged drain, then your problem is probably more serious than just a run-of-the mill clog. You could have significant accumulation of hair or grease…or a foreign object may have become lodged in the drain. Even worse, your could a broken or leaking pipe somewhere in your drain system. If left untreated too long, these issues can compound and lead to more serious problems that may require a total plumbing and drain system overhaul.