Clean your drain clogs on your own
Is there anything more annoying than trying to start your day off with an invigorating shower and finding yourself standing in a couple inches of water? Backed-up drains in your sink, tub or floor are an inconvenienced at best, and can cause more major problems if you don’t deal with them. Do you have to call a plumber for every clogged drain project? Not necessarily. Here are some tips for handling milder cases on your own.
Drain cleaning liquids
You can find liquid solutions for drain clogs at your local hardware store, and sometimes even at the grocery store. There are many different types of drain cleaners. Each of them lists the kind of clogs that they can break up and away. This is important because not every blockage is the same. In kitchen sinks you’re more likely to get a buildup of fats and grease, while the mess in the tub drain is probably hair.
Note that for kitchen sinks a good first option is to use near-boiling water. This usually melts down any grease clogs and flushes them away. If you don’t have to use a chemical solution, try to avoid it, as it’s less wear on the interior of your pipes.
Make sure to follow the directions on the bottle of your drain cleaner closely. If you can find a way to remove any water that’s standing in your tub or sink before applying cleaner, do it. Being able to pour the cleaner directly down the drain prevents damage to the sink or tub’s finish.
So what about acids? If you’ve been to the hardware store for cleaner, you’ve probably seen hydrochloric or sulfuric acid on the shelf. Do they work on clogs? Absolutely. Are they the safest option for cleaning? No. Acids are really best for a professional plumber to use.
Precautions for using acid cleaners
If you feel that you absolutely have to use acid on your drains, take some precautions:
- Wear appropriate safety gear. This includes goggles, gloves, perhaps a face shield and heavier clothing.
- Do not apply acid if you suspect there’s another chemical sitting in the drain. Acids are highly reactive and get volatile when mixed with other chemicals.
- Add a very small amount of acid to to the drain first. If there is a reaction, you want there to be as little acid in the mixture as possible.
- Avoid contact with your tub or sink. More than the other solutions, acid pits and scars the finish of your sink.
- Follow proper disposal techniques. If you have any acid left over there’s no reason to keep it stored in your home. Get rid of it according to local regulations.
Snaking out a clog
A plumbing snake is a mechanical solution for busting clogs in pipes. It features a thin, flexible shaft that can be anywhere from a couple feet to 20 feet or longer. Some snakes are simple manual affairs with a crank, while others are powered. You can even run certain types of these devices from your power drill as an attachment.
To use a snake, simply unspool it, shoving it down the drain as you go. You might need to use extra force when you come upon a bend in the pipe. Once you hit the blockage, start spinning the crank. The end of snake thrashes around inside the pipe. Its claw ends catch the clog and move it free. When you retract the claw it pulls the clogged material back out of the drain. Always make sure to repeat this action at least once after pulling the clog free. This ensures that you catch anything left behind.
The P-Trap method
You’ve probably heard plumbers or other DIY homeowners talk about the P-trap. What is it? Look underneath your sink. You see a bent section of pipe that attaches directly to the drain. It’s shaped like the letter “P”. This is your P-trap. Its shape keep clogs from traveling farther down the line, where they can cause further blockages but are harder to get out. This feature also keeps you from losing wedding rings and other valuables.
When you have a clog in the sink, or if you dropped something down the drain, pull out the P-trap. To do this, you need an open jaw plumber’s wrench. You probably call them monkey wrenches. Make sure to shut off the water supply before opening up the pipes. Keep a large bucket underneath, put on gloves and wear some clothes that you don’t mind getting splashed.Unscrew the P-trap at both ends, then gently pull it down. Pour out the water by gently tipping it to one side, then pull out the clog if you can reach it.
Prevention is the best cure
It’s best if you never have to deal with a clog in the first place. While you might not prevent every backup, prevention still saves you a lot of time and effort. WHen you use a garbage disposal, make sure to not overload it, and never stick hard or solid objects into the disposal. Make sure to put in a tub or kitchen sink strainer when you shower or wash the dishes. These items catch particulates. After you’re done, just empty them into the trash and replace.
Call M5 Plumbing for major drain cleaning
Sometimes a job is just too much for you to handle. That’s where M5 comes in. We’re the Portland and Vancouver area’s top choice for residential plumbing. Our staff is full of trained professionals who have years of experience on the job. You can get hold of us 24/7. Either give us a call or fill out the contact form on this site.
We sit down with you and explain the problem and its solution. Our plumbers work tirelessly to help you get your issues fixed right away. Don’t let clogged drains inconvenience you anymore. Call M5 Plumbing and get it taken care of today.