The warning signs of a clogged drain are clear — water pooling or refusing to go down the drain. Sometimes, removing that clog can be quite a hassle, and that’s why people often go straight to a plumber for help.
Depending on availability, it might take a few days for a plumber to clear your drain. When it comes to minor issues, why not try a few DIY hacks before resorting to the professionals? Read below to learn some suggested methods to unclog a stubborn drain.
Start With a Plunger
Plungers are the tried-and-true method. Unless there is a serious problem (e.g., a root growing through a buried drain line), this is probably the method with which a professional plumber will start. Depending on the type of drain you’re unclogging, there are various kinds of plungers that will work:
- Sink plungers are the conventional type that usually come to mind when we imagine plungers — with a rubber cup that is designed to seal to the bottom of the sink.
- Toilet plungers have more of a bell shape with a flange around the bottom that helps it seal in a toilet bowl.
Choose the right plunger, and give it a try to clear debris from your drain.
Try Homemade Drain Cleaners
Commercial drain cleaners are marketed as a quick and easy solution to clogged drains, but plumbers generally don’t recommend them. That’s because these solutions contain chemicals that can damage your plumbing — and harm your septic system, if you have one. What’s more, the harsh chemicals could damage porcelain toilet bowls, sinks, and other fixtures. Thus, while a commercial drain cleaner may have cleared your drain, it can also leave you with bigger problems to fix.
That said, there are homemade options that can clear small clogs without causing damage to plumbing and fixtures. Start with soda to clear a small clog. It’s bubbly and a little acidic, which will help clear debris. If you have a 2-liter bottle handy, pour the liquid down the drain and wait a few minutes before rinsing with warm water.
Baking soda and vinegar is an all-natural method that you probably have in your kitchen. First, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour that down the drain. Once you’ve done that, measure a ½ cup of baking soda and pour down the drain. When the baking soda and water had roughly a minute to reach the clog and start working, mix 1 cup of hot water with 1 cup of vinegar. Pour this down the drain, and wait for about five minutes before rinsing the drain with clear water.
Baking soda and salt can help break up a clog, too. Mix 1 cup of baking soda with a ½ cup of salt. Then, pour it down the drain. It can take a while to work, so let it sit for a few hours or overnight, then flush the drain with boiling water.
Take Apart the P-Trap
This is among the most common areas for a clog to occur because curving pipes are more likely to catch debris than straight spans. If you can access the drain’s P-trap, then you should be able to take it apart with channel-lock pliers or a wrench. Make sure to place a bucket beneath the trap before taking it out, since wastewater is likely to spill from it. Once you’ve removed the trap, clear any debris you find. Then you’re free to reassemble. Remember to run water through it once you’ve replaced it to check fittings for leaks.
Use a Drain Snake
This is the next tool that a professional is likely to try after a plunger. Snakes are long cables — often with an attachment on the end — that are designed to be run down a drain to break up a clog so that it flushes. You can find snakes at most hardware and home improvement stores — in different lengths, too — if you have a longer drain to clear.
Try a Coat Hanger If You Don’t Have a Snake
Maybe the hardware store is closed, but if you have a metal coat hanger on hand, you can turn it into a drain snake. Simply straighten it so that you have a long, sturdy piece of wire. Then run it down the drain until it reaches the clog. This will help you break up the clog so that you can pull it out or flush it with running water.
Chances are, at least one of these options will get your drain flowing once more. If none of these methods work, however, it might be time to contact a professional.
Author bio: Excited to share her love of home design and décor with readers, Jaclyn Crawford started with ImproveNet in 2016. As a staff writer, she enjoys chronicling the latest trends and ways you can make your home the loveliest it can be. You may also find her in ImproveNet videos, sharing tips and trends for your home.