It is really easy to recognize the warning signs of a clogged drain. The water in the shower or sink begins to pool, and will drain at a snail’s pace. You may even start to notice a slightly odd odor coming up from the bath tub’s drain. These are the warning signs telling you that if you do not act quickly, you will be dealing with a completely clogged drain very soon. Clogged drains are a big deal, if left untreated they can result in leaky pipes, or even worse, burst pipes, which will really hurt your wallet. Obviously, most people reach for a bottle of drain clearing liquid, but that does not always work. Now, your first instinct after using a bottle of drain clearing liquid will be to call a plumber, but before you do that, here are 7 simple methods you can do to unclog your drains.
So this is probably most people’s first guess as to what they should do when they go to fix clogged drains (unless you are one of the brave souls willing to stick your bare hand into a gunk filled drain). After all, it works for the toilet, why wouldn’t it work for the bathtub drain? It can work, especially if the blockage in the drains is loose or small. But the plunger will not work for most serious drainage clogs. Something you can do to try and make the plunger more effective, is put a bit of petroleum jelly around the rim of the plunger, this helps make the seal stronger, and thus the plunging action is more effective.
This solution seems very simple, but it can be a surprisingly decent way of unclogging drains. Take your standard wire coat hanger and begging bending it until it is completely straight. Once you have a nice, long piece of straight wire, try and bend the end of the hangar into a hook like shape. Once that is done, it is time to get down to the nasty business. Bend over the drain and insert the hangar, you should be able to pull out lots of nasty gunk, hair, debris, etc. Make sure you are not just pushing the blockages further down the drain, pull down and then pull up once you feel something, otherwise you will just make the blockage worse. After you have gotten some debris out, run the water as hot as it can go and see if the drain is unclogged.
Here is where a bit of chemistry comes in handy. Mix a third of baking soda with a third of vinegar and the mixture should start to fizzle, immediately pour it down the drain. The fizzing action will not damage the pipes, but it is pretty good at dislodging debris and hair that has attached itself to the pipes. Once you have poured the mixture down the drain, let it sit for a couple of hours, then turn on the water and let it pour down the drain for a few minutes.
If you have a very strong shop vacuum, then you can use it to help unclog the drain. This does not always work, but it is worth a try if you have the necessary tools. All you need to do is create a seal over the drain with your vacuum (using an old plunger head could potentially work) and set the vacuum to a high setting. It may be able to suck up the debris that is clogging the drain. This only really works if the clog is somewhat close to the drain, so do not expect it to work for more serious clogs.
This is probably the simplest, most effort free solution. Simply boil a lot of water, and then pour it down the drain. It seems too simple to work, but you would be surprised at how good boiling water is at removing debris from drains.
This is like a more intense version of the baking soda and vinegar solution. Sodium hydroxide is also known as “lye” or “caustic soda.” It can burn your hand, so pick up some rubber gloves and eye protection before attempting this solution. Put 11 or 12 litres of water in a bucket, and then mix in 3 cups of sodium hydroxide, stir well. The mixture will begin to fizz (like the baking soda and vinegar solution) pour the entire mixture down the drain, slowly. Let it sit for about an hour, then flush the system with a lot of hot water. Repeat this process a couple of times if it does not work the first time.
So, many hardware stores will sell a product, usually called a “plumbing snake” or “drain snake” or something along those lines. Basically the product is a long, hard piece of flexible wire with a piece of spiral metal at the end. You use them to clean drains, it is like the wire coat hanger solution, but much more effective. Plumbing snakes can go much farther into a drain, and can get hold of blockages better than a wire hangar.
If none of these home remedies work, then chances are you dealing with a very serious blockage. Should this be the case, do not waste your time with do it yourself remedies, pick up the phone and call a plumber. As we have already stated, seriously clogged drains are no joke, and can cause some real damage to your pipes. So, even though it does hurt the pride a bit to have to call the plumber, sometimes it is just better to bite the bullet and let the professionals handle it. They have better tools, more training, and will be able to fix the problem much quicker than you can.