If you live in your home for any length of time, it is inevitable that, at some point, you’ll experience residential blocked drains. Yep, your toilet, sink, or shower drain will inevitably become blocked. For many people, their instant reaction is to call the local plumber. But before you reach for the phone, there are some easy and pain-free things you can try first. Not only will these save you some money, but they’ll be your go-to solutions if this problem recurs.
The good news is that none of these solutions requires a great deal of technical knowledge, and you really have nothing to lose. The worst that can happen is that the drain remains blocked, in which case you then call out the plumber.
The solutions to these common plumbing issues are not listed in any specific order, so you can try any or all of them, although some may be more suitable than others, as we will explain later.
This is possibly the least technical of all available options and also the easiest to understand. When your drain is clogged, you need to find a way to remove the blockage. A snake is basically a long, flexible piece of metal that can be fed down the drain and will then slide around the U-bend.
The concept is nothing more difficult that using brute force to try and dislodge whatever it is that is causing the blockage. Because the snake is flexible, it is highly unlikely that you will do any damage to the pipework, but you stand an excellent chance of dislodging the blockage and therefore getting the drain to function properly once again.
A snake can be purchased from any good hardware store and will only cost a few dollars. It is an invaluable tool to have in the home and will pay for itself with one use.
For those of you with young children, a blocked drain can provide the perfect learning opportunity. Think back to your own school days and you might remember the excitement of that science experiment where you mixed baking soda and vinegar for a cool science-fair volcano.
You can take advantage of this reaction to help clear your drains. The secret to this method is having a heavy item that will prevent the power of the mixture escaping. A hefty saucepan, for instance, would be perfect. Take a cup of soda powder and throw it down the drain, followed by about half a cup of white vinegar.
Before the reaction starts to take place, put the saucepan on top of the drain, preventing the concoction from escaping. In effect, this violent reaction is now crashing about in your pipes and hopefully clearing that blockage in the process. Leave the saucepan in place for about 30 minutes or so, and then rinse the pipe through with some hot water. Hopefully, you should see a significant improvement in the water flow, indicating that you have cleared the drain, and hopefully impressed your kids in the process.
For those of us who have ever watched a television commercial, you will have heard the manufacturer’s claim that their dish soap cuts through grease quickly and easily. And even Madge the manicurist had her clients soak in dish soap, so you know it’s gentle. Rather than buy expensive and abrasive drain-cleaning products, which have the potential to damage pipework, put your dish soap to the test.
Squirt a decent amount of the liquid down the kitchen or bathroom drain, and after about 90 seconds, pour a large pot of boiling water down the drain. The hot water should activate the dish soap, which in turn should then attack the grease and hopefully clear the drain. This gentle method can be surprisingly effective and very cheap to test.
One of the number-one tools in every plumber’s toolkit is their plunger—and for a very good reason. Provided you can get a good seal on your drain, which includes blocking the overflow pipe, the amount of force you can manufacture with a bit of effort on your behalf can shift most blockages.
A plunger is a very cheap piece of equipment to buy, and you should always keep one or two handy. Just remember you need enough water in the sink to cover the plunger and to block any other holes to prevent the pressure from escaping.
If you have tried any and all of the above methods to clear your drains without any success, it may be time to call out the professionals. Often, plugged drains can be a sign of a bigger issue, so give Staggs Plumbing a call, and we will have your drains cleared in no time at all.