Helpful Tips

How to clear blocked drains

Sunday 19th November 2017

CLOGGED DRAINS WITHIN YOUR HOUSEHOLD

Drains are clogged due to the accumulation of debris overtime, reducing the normal water flow through your pipes. There is an abundance of reasons your drain may clog, but this simple problem can lead to unwanted odors, insects, and flooding. While many people wait for the water to stop completely from draining, there are helpful tips to help maintain a clear drain, saving you both time and money. In this guide to drain cleaning, you will find everything you need to know to maintain a clear and debris free drain without the help of a professional.

SIGNS OF A CLOGGED DRAIN

A clogged drain can lead to costly repairs and is an inconvenience to all homeowners. Acknowledging potential hazards will save you the hassle of dealing with the mess a clogged drain can cause. The objective is to avoid drains from clogging, and the best way to accomplish this goal is to catch the problem before it starts.

SLOW DRAINAGE INDICATES CLOGGED PIPES
Slow draining sink
Slow draining sink
While most of us wait until the obvious "sink full of water" to address the issue of a clogged drain, taking action at the first sign of clogging can be a much easier process. It is important to pay attention to the water flow of all frequently used drains. While this indicator may seem like a dead giveaway, people don't seem to take action until this signal begins to worsen. Unlike a sink which is more obvious to the eye, take the time to watch your tub drain after a bath or the kitchen sink after doing dishes. We tend to walk away from these areas after finishing the task at hand, so it's easy to miss until you return to see a pool full of water remaining.

ODOR INDICATES CLOGGED PIPES
Odor is a noticeable indicator to the buildup of waste within your pipes. Sticky substances cling to the walls of your pipes and begin to harden, causing the substance to remain there days after draining. This accumulation of bulk is just the beginning of a smelly drain and encourages the growth of bacteria. Mildew is another indicator of a clogged drain and releases a foul smell. Due to the dark and humid environment a clogged sink provides, mildew has everything it needs to begin growing.

RUST INDICATES CLOGGED PIPES
Rusty sink drain
Rusty sink drain
Rust is another reason to acknowledge potential clogging due to corrosion. Prime conditions to the occurrence of rust is when iron, found in the minerals of water, is exposed to humid air and saltwater. If you notice the formation of rust around a metal drain, you can only hope it has not continued to build within the walls of your pipes. Take the time to notice the signs of clogged pipes and stop the problem before it starts.

MAINTAIN YOUR DRAIN TO PREVENT CLOGGING

Looking for trouble is the best way to begin maintaining clear pipes. Do you notice hair remaining after the shower? Do you often throw leftover food in the garbage disposal? Maintaining a clean drain is the first step to minimizing the chance of experiencing this troublesome issue. What seems like an easy fix, can lead to major complications if not addressed correctly and in a timely matter. Here are a few of the common drain types and what you can do to keep their pipes free of matter.

KITCHEN SINK DRAIN MAINTENANCE
Scrape all food and trash into the garbage. Ideally, the only substances that should go down the drain are soap and water. Try your best to avoid having to use a garbage disposal or grease liquid cleaners. We encourage that all pan residue is wiped down with a paper towel and disposed in the trash. Never dispose of oil and grease down the drain. Grease sticks to the side of your drains and hardens, blocking your pipes overtime.

"Does my kitchen sink need a drain cleaning?" is a great article on our blog that will help narrow down the confusion that comes with your kitchen sink.

TOILET DRAIN MAINTENANCE
Broken toilet
Broken toilet
Let's begin with the basics. There are only two things that should be flushed down your toilet: waste and toilet paper. This may confuse you as materials such as baby wipes, facial cleansing cloths, and feminine hygiene products are marked as 'flushable' but are the leading cause of toilet clogs. Don't take the risk of clogging a toilet, costing you more than just the convenience of throwing trash into your nearest toilet bowl. If your toilet is continuing to clog, it could be the large amounts of toilet paper flushed down the drain. Try switching to a less plush brand and using only the amount necessary.

Avoid Toilet Repairs: 18 Things To Never Flush Down your Toilet provides additional information on common items that can lead you to costly toilet repairs.

SHOWER DRAIN MAINTENANCE
Shower strainer
Shower strainer
The worse part about taking a shower is having to deal with the foot of water that builds up from a clogged shower drain. Not only is this disgusting to stand in, but the feeling of completely rinsing off is gone due to the pool of back water that hovers around your ankles. If possible, invest in a strainer. This easy-to-use accessory catches hair, small soap chunks and other potential clog components without blocking water drainage. The strainer is low maintenance and removable, saving you money for future possible complications. Don't forget to empty the strainer at least once a week, possibly more if used more frequently.

DIY DRAIN CLEANING DEVICES

Let's say you took all the steps to maintain a clean drain, but still ran into the occasional clog. For those quick fix clogs, we have a few do it yourself tips that will save you time and money while reducing the occurrence of blockages.

Check out these 5 DIY Tips for Drain Cleaning to review.

DRAIN CLEANING WITH A PLUNGER
Plunger used to unclog sink
Plunger used to unclog sink
Many clogged drains can be fixed with the simple use of a plunger. This process is much faster than using the snake draining method, so giving this tool a try first will save you the mess other drain cleaning tools may produce. Although many think they understand how to use a plunger, most are not doing so correctly. Place the rubber head of the plunger against the drain so that it creates a seal; allowing no air to seep through. Begin pushing on the plunger until the head inverts. Release the pushing motion until the head 'pops' back to its original state. Repeat this step 5 to 6 times or until you notice the water beginning to drain. If this does not seem to work, put the plunger aside and reach for another DIY drain cleaning tool listed below.

DRAIN CLEANING WITH A SNAKE DRAIN AUGER
Sink auger
Sink auger
Using a Snake Drain Auger is an immense way to reach a clog further down within your reach down further into your pipes to collect unwanted clogging. Although this is a more effective way of cleaning clogged pipes, it requires a bit more skill than using your everyday plunger. Remove any screening that may cover your access to your drain such as a tub drain or hair trap. Insert the snake cable into the drain while rotating the cable handle in a clockwise motion while continuing to push. Your grip on the cable should be about 3 inches from the drain opening while you continue to rotate the handle. Such a close grip allows you to feel for the clog while pushing the cable further down into your piping. You will eventually begin to feel resistance when you reach the problem area. Don't get this confused with the pipe's curve. Continue to stay in motion and keep pushing to get past the curve of the pipes. Once you have encountered the clog try to hook it by pulling up slightly and pushing it down, breaking the matter down. Continue turning the handle until you feel the auger can easily continue through the area of resistance. Pull the auger out slowly, so everything hangs on and does not fall back into the drain. After removing the entire auger, run hot water through the drain to determine if you solved your drain clogging problem.

DRAIN CLEANING WITH CHEMICAL DRAIN CLEANERS
If the first two methods fail, all else leads to chemical drain cleaners. These cleaners are fast acting due to the amounts of sulfuric acid and high concentration of lye. It is important to follow all of the instructions and warning labels on all chemical drain cleaners, for they all have their own way of getting through tough clogs rapidly. Remember to flush all the remaining chemicals by running a sufficient amount of water through your drain.

TOP LIQUID DRAIN CLEANERS

Here is a list of the top name brand liquid drain cleaners. If available, check out the specific types of cleaners directed towards your personal problem with the clogging of your drain.

CHEMICAL DRAIN CLEANERS
Chemical drain cleaners
Chemical drain cleaners
These fast acting drain cleaners use powerful elements to save you time by solving your clogged drain problems instantly. Not only do the chemical drain cleaners get through the tough debris in your pipes, but many promote that they keep it from reoccurring. Here are a few chemical drain cleaners known to help improve the life of your drain.

Drano
CLR (Calcium Lime Rust remover)
Pure Lye
Liquid- Plumr
NATURAL DRAIN CLEANERS
Natural drain cleaner
Natural drain cleaner
All natural drain cleaners are a way to avoid the smells and leftover chemicals that reside if not fully flushed after treatment. It is also a more preferred method to homeowners who may have children, lessening the risk of potential hazardous chemicals being swallowed or played with. Here are some natural alternatives to ease your mind when it comes to drain cleaning.

Baking soda and vinegar
Baking soda with lemon juice
Salt, borax, and vinegar
Run boiling hot water
HOW MUCH DOES PROFESSIONAL DRAIN CLEANING COST

Waiting for your pipes to become completely clogged is the worst approach for you and your water system. Relying on the obvious can cost more than just a bill from the plumbers by increasing water bill costs and resulting in clogging multiple drains within your household. Most companies charge by the type of drain clogged and the severity of the problem. When receiving a quote from a plumbing service, ask for all the info on what needs to be done and the amount of time you will have to wait for the problem to be solved. Drains are used as an important function within your household, so understanding what exactly needs to be done and how you could have prevented this issue from occurring for future reference is vital.