There you are, standing in an inch of dirty shower water in your tub because the water is draining out so slow. This happens every so often, no matter what kind of hair trap you use. You know it’s only a matter of time before your bathroom sink also begins to drain slower. You have a clogged drain. On your next grocery shopping trip, you’ll pick up a gallon of chemical drain cleaner and hope it does the trick. In this scenario, the best thing you can do is call a professional. If you insist on being a do-it-yourselfer, here are a few tips to help clear that clog in the drain.
The Bent Hanger
The trick your father used since you were a kid, taking a plain old wire hanger from the coat closet and repurposing it for a drain hook. The process is simple really. Take any wire hanger, untwist it from its natural state into a straight line as you can, and bend a small hook on one end. This classic technique is pretty effective as long as you are mindful that your mission is to pull all the hair and gunk out of the drain and not push it further in. Once you have manually removed as much of the clog as you can, run the water for a few minutes to push any remaining residue through
There are plenty of home drain cleaner recipes you can try. My favorite is baking soda and vinegar. This magic recipe will fizz, and it is that reaction that will help break down whatever is clogging the drain. Mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar, you must be ready to use the mix immediately. To avoid inhaling too much of the smell, I like to pour the baking soda directly into the clogged drain and then pour vinegar into it. If you don’t have vinegar (or just can’t stomach the smell), you can use equal parts of salt and baking soda. Pour the mixture into the clogged drain and allow it to sit for about 15 minutes, then follow with boiling water to relieve blockages.
Although both of these home recipes are great, for some of the nastiest clogs, the effect may not be enough. If the clog is particularly nasty, use the baking soda and vinegar mixture and then cover it with a stopper. Allow the concoction to sit while you fill the tub or sink. After about 45 minutes, pull the plug and allow the force of the collected water to push the clog forward.
Don’t pigeonhole your plunger to exclusively clearing toilet clogs. The plumber’s best friend is also great for clearing sinks and tubs, where the water is supposed to go down, the plunger can work! It may take a few attempts, so give it a few tries before moving on to the next solution. Be careful not to plunge so hard that you get splashback. Always plunge with your mouth closed!
The commercial drain snake is specifically designed to relieve clogs in drains. It is fairly low-tech, simple, and inexpensive. The drain snake is basically the commercial version of our wire hanger trick, but manufactured for the purpose of exploring your pipes. The benefit of this device is it can bend and follow the curves of your drain pipes to find the clogs. They are particularly useful in clearing bathroom and kitchen sink clogs
This tip is exactly what it sounds like, getting in those pipes and cleaning them out. Sinks are designed with a U-shaped curve in the pipe between the wall and the connection to the sink. You may be tempted to replace the U with a straight pipe, but that would be a very poor life choice. This area is the biggest culprit for collecting debris that creates clogs, but is critically important to prevent the backflow of water from the sewer, where the water drains to. To clear clogs here and clean the pipes, you’ll need a plumber’s wrench and a bucket. Before you get into it, make sure to turn the water off! Place your bucket underneath the U-shaped part of the sink drain. Use the wrench to loosen the nuts on either side of the U until you can wiggle it free. You should be able to pour debris out and clean the pipe now. Once you are done, replace it the same way you took it out.
When all else fails, it’s time to call in the professionals. At Culler Plumbing, we have have been providing exceptional service to Clair and Madison counties for over 20 years. There isn’t a drain that we can’t unclog! Call today for your estimate or to have one of our emergency plumbers come fix the mess!