How To Unblock a Drain

Excess water on your lawn, gargling drains, or a toilet backing up all sound like signs that you might have a blocked 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

  • Plunger

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.

  • 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.

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 out, 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.

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.

Dish soap and hot water

If you want to avoid harsh chemical cleaners that can sometimes do more harm than good, 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 with a few tablespoons of liquid dish soap. The hot water solution will heat up solidified grease in your sink trap allowing the grease to be washed all the way out of the pipe.

Removing the P-Trap

No tools are required to remove a clog under your sink as long as you know how to locate the P-trap. P-traps are required in homes to prevent sewer gas from leaking into your air, but they can also be perfect for accumulation of hair, small objects, or that piece of jewelry you can’t find.

Before removing, be sure to turn off the angle stops so no one else in the house can turn on the water and splash you. Place a bucket under the trap to catch water. Unscrew the two nuts carefully while holding the trap and let the water drain into the bucket. Remove the clog with a gloved hand and your blockage problem should be solved!

As always, for serious drain clogs or leaks it’s best to call a professional. Call 1-Tom-Plumber for quick, reliable and responsive service for all your plumbing needs!

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