A slow drain or a completely stopped-up drain can cause a lot of problems for a household depending on which drain is clogged. If your kitchen sink gets clogged, it can keep you from being able to cook in the kitchen and can also create a big mess if you do not try and clear it properly! If it’s a bathroom sink or shower drain, it can create havoc for family bathroom routines.
Simple Attempts on How to Unclog a Drain:
Plunge It: A good plunger is a wise investment for any household. Keep in mind, you should have one for toilet issues and a separate one for sinks. For mental cleanliness, mostly. I am sure everyone cleans their sinks after using a plunger than was previously in the toilet… I digress. Using a plunger for a kitchen sink can be tricky if you have two sinks. First, you have to plug the drain on the sink opposite of the garbage disposal. Once this is secure you can attempt to plunge the stoppage through the pipes. If you are using a plunger to unclog a shower drain you must also secure the vent, which usually prevents overflow in the tub. Unless the vent is covered, plunging will be ineffective. You probably won’t be able to prevent all air flow, but you can prevent most by just using a rag to block the vent. This vent most likely makes this plunging job a two-person job.
Chemical Drain Cleaners: Most plumbing experts would advise against using any product such as Drano® because of the harsh chemicals, and I have been told it can sometimes create more problems for your plumbing than it can fix. Like many homeowners, I have used Drano®-like products and found them to be successful sometimes but not all the time.
How to Unclog a Drain with Baking Soda
Drano® Alternative: I have tried to become more eco-friendly over the last few years. That includes attempting alternative solutions to my clogged drain problems. Follow these steps on how to unclog a drain with baking soda: You can use a combination of hot water, vinegar, and baking soda to clear drains. Getting hot water from a faucet from a different sink when your sink is clogged might be tricky.
If you can’t get HOT water, try boiling some on the stove or getting it from another sink. This will keep your sink from filling up before you get the necessary hot water for the task. Pour some hot water into the drain, add about a cup of baking soda down in the drain, and wait a few minutes. Then add a mixture of vinegar and hot water to the drain. This creates a chemical reaction that can help push the clog through the drain. You can repeat this task, but if it doesn’t clear up after a few attempts, it’s time for more drastic measures.
Best Way to Unclog a Drain
If you have tried to unclog your drain with no success, you can take it a step further and do a little handiwork before calling in a professional like a plumber or Roto-Rooter®. Turn off the water to the sink. Do this by turning both hot and cold water valves clockwise until they won’t turn anymore.
Next, you want to make sure you have all the tools for the task such as a bucket, snake or unclogging tool, pipe pliers, and possibly a wet/dry vacuum. Having a good flashlight to see what you are doing is also helpful! If you are working on tasks alone, you can get a flashlight with a built-in stand or one that clamps onto something so you aren’t working in the dark.
If you have standing water in your sink, you can place a bucket underneath the pipe trap, which is the curved pipe below the sink. You want the bucket to catch all the water that is standing in the sink. You can also wait for the drain to clear if it is a slow drain instead of a completely blocked drain. You should be able to unscrew the trap and let all the water drain into the bucket.
At this point, you can see if anything was in the trap or above it. You can also use a flashlight to see if there is anything immediately blocking the drain; however, most drain pipes turn once the pipe reaches the wall, so you won’t be able to see very far.
If you find that your drain is clogged, you can use a long, barbed, plastic tool called a snake down the drain and into the wall. You can find these at any hardware store. If you encounter a clog, try twisting and turning while pushing the snake further into the pipe. Once you get it through, you can pull the snake out, remove the hair and debris into the bucket, and put the snake back into the pipe to clear out the rest of the clog.
If the pipe is still clogged, you can use a wet/dry vacuum to try and suck the clog out. Make sure that it is ready to be used as a wet vac by removing the dry filter. You want to get the nozzle as secure around the pipe opening as possible to create maximum suction power.
Once you have cleared the clog, put the pipes and trap back together. Turn both the hot water and cold water valves back on by turning them counterclockwise. Run hot water down the drain for a minute or two to make sure the drain has been cleared.
Before Calling a Professional
Before you jump the gun and decide to call in a professional, you might be able to save yourself $100+ for a service call if you try and tackle a little drain cleaning on your own. Drains can get clogged for any number of reasons: normal pipe sludge, a child’s toy, hair, or trying to put something down a garbage disposal that should be placed in the trash or compost instead.
What NOT to Put in Your Garbage Disposal:
These things are commonly put in garbage disposals when they should not be:
- Coffee Grounds
- Pasta Noodles
- Oil or Grease
- Chicken Bones
- Fibrous Vegetables like Celery or Asparagus
- Egg Shells
- Potatoes or Potato Peels
If you question whether or not your disposal can handle it, err on the side that it can’t. You can save yourself some plumbing issues, and your disposal should work fine!
You can do a few other things to prevent clogs from forming:
- Pour a pan full of hot water down your drains on a regular basis to melt any grease that has settled in the pipes. It also helps flush out any other debris that has collected in your pipes.
- Use a strainer in your kitchen sink to keep items that may clog your sink from accumulating in the drain.
- Use a device to catch hair in the shower drain to help keep build-up from occurring in your tub.