How To Unblock A Drain

Excess water on your lawn, a gurgling sound coming from your drain, or a toilet backing up are all possible signs that you might need to unblock a drain.

While a blocked outside drain usually requires the help of a professional to give it a good clearing and cleaning, a minor indoor drain blockage can usually be taken care of all by yourself. All it takes is a few supplies from your local hardware store and a willingness to get your hands dirty. Keep reading to learn how to unblock a drain.

How Does a Drain Get Clogged?

Watching what you put down your sink, toilet, and shower drain is key way to avoid a clogged drain disaster. An accumulation of food, hair, soap, baby wipes, etc. can all cause a blockage. Tree roots may also bore their way through sewer lines in the right conditions. Sometimes, these things are unavoidable, but a conscious awareness of what goes into your plumbing system can stop a clogged drain in its tracks.

Tools You’ll Need to Unblock a Drain


A plunger is a homeowner’s best friend when it comes to minor blocked drains. This simple tool can easily clear clogs from most fixtures such as sinks, tubs, and toilets. Here’s how to use a plunger correctly (you’ll be surprised how often it’s done wrong).

Close-up Of A Female Plumber Wearing Pink Gloves Using Plunger In The Kitchen Sink
Make sure to use a flat-style (or cup) plunger when using on any drain with a flat surface, like a kitchen or bathroom sink.

Drain Snake or Closet Auger

For clogs farther down the line, a drain snake is ideal. It’s a long, thin cable designed for snaking out toilets and fitting through tight curves. A hand crank allows you to manually unclog a drain up to 100 feet away.

Unblock a drain with a closet auger
This is what a closet auger looks like.

How To Unblock a Drain

The Plunger Method

If you have a sink clog, place the plunger over the drain completely. Run the water for a second while placing the plunger on the drain to make sure you get a good seal. Begin to plunge in succession until you feel the sink unclog. You may have to repeat this cycle several times.

Wire Clothes Hanger

The most common cause of a blocked shower drain is the buildup of hair (I’m talking to you, long-haired ladies). A quick and easy solution can usually be found right in your own closet.

Straighten a wire hanger, but make sure to leave the hooked end to grab the clump of hair. Once you remove as much as you can fish out, immediately run hot water down the drain to flush the rest. This method can also be used for stuck food in your sink.

Straighten a wire hanger and insert to unblock a drain
Just straighten the wire hanger and insert curved end into the drain. You might be able to loosen or even pull out the blockage.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

A run to your local grocery store can also do the trick when it comes to a clogged drain. Always follow exact directions when using chemicals to remove a blockage. This is not only for safety reasons, but also because different types of blocked drains require different solutions. A standing water blockage in a kitchen sink, for example, should be treated differently than a slow draining bath clog.

Pro Tip: This isn’t the method we recommend, but a lot of you out there prefer chemical drain cleaners for their convenience. Unfortunately, they can do more harm than good. They are highly corrosive and often don’t work very well. So beware.

Dish Soap and Hot Water

If you want to avoid harsh chemical cleaners that can sometimes do harm, try a simple solution of hot water and soap!

For sink drains that are clogged due to grease, bring water to a boil and mix in a few tablespoons of liquid dish soap. Use Dawn dish washing soap (other brands won’t work as well to cut grease and loosen debris). The hot water solution will heat up solidified grease in your sink trap allowing the grease to be washed away.

Call 1-Tom-Plumber

Don’t hesitate to contact us here or call us at 1-Tom-Plumber (1-866-758-6237) if you’d like us to unblock a drain. We will immediately handle any emergency plumbingdrain, and water damage problem, including excavation of underground water lines and sewer main lines.

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