My Drain is Blocked – What Do I Do?

Written by  //  August 9, 2016  //  Plumbing  //  Comments Off on My Drain is Blocked – What Do I Do?

Blocked drains are probably one of the most common plumbing problems you can have in the average household. Though frustrating, they can also be one of the easiest to take care of yourself with a few basic techniques.

Even for a simple blocked drain, you can call a professional plumber if you prefer to let someone with experience handle the job.

Chemicals

Pouring down a dose of drain cleaner can be the easiest way to deal with a blocked drain, whether you use a standard commercial product or go with a DIY recipe. For the store-bought products, make sure to read the label for the best results.

If you prefer not store these toxic chemicals at home, try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar on your clog. It can be pretty effective. Carefully pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain, and follow that with about 1 cup of vinegar. It’s going to start to fizz and create a lot of gas. Get the plug secure and let the reaction force the gases downward through the pipe. It can be strong enough to loosen or dislodge a clog. When it stops fizzing, pour a few cups of boiling water down to finish the job.

Plunger

It takes a little muscle but a solid plunger can often get a drain unblocked in minutes. It can take some practice to get the technique right so you might have to make a few attempts if it’s your first try.

Position the rubber head of the plunger over the drain, angled so that it creates a complete seal all the way around. Give it a few sharp pushes downward, forcing a blast of air or water pressure down the pipe. Try running some hot water, and if it’s still not clear give it another few plunges.

An older plunger may develop cracks in the rubber which will greatly diminish how much pressure you can force down the drain. When that happens, it’s time to get a new one.

Drain Snake

Stubborn clogs might need a more direct approach. Usually referred to as "snakes", these tools are long, flexible arms that you can work down the drain to forcibly remove or break up a stubborn blockage. Plumbing snakes aren’t that expensive and can come in handy for all sorts of clogs (both regular drains as well as the toilet).

Depending on the specific model, they are usually have a crank or auger that you turn to uncoil the snake portion. By holding the main body of the unit at the top of the drain, the cranking action forces the long snake downward, bending on its own to navigate the bends.

Clog Prevention

Clogs and blocks happen all the time, even when you’re careful with your drains. Having a strainer basket in the kitchen drain will keep food chunks from going down and a finer sieve attachment can keep hair and soap bits out of bathroom pipes too. With the toilet, all you can do is be careful about how much paper goes down, and to keep kids from trying to flush things that shouldn’t be flushed.

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