Lesser Known Tips for Unclogging a Drain

From build - up of hair in the shower, to cooking grease down the kitchen sink, a clogged drain can happen at any time. What is the best way to unclog a drain? Here are a few simple tips to get your drains working again:

AUGER

An auger, or drain snake, is basically a metal rope or cable with a cutting blade on the tip. A drain snake is ideal for getting hair out of a drain, which can be hard to remove with chemical cleaners. A drain snake is available at your local hardware store.

Augers can be bought or rented. For the really big problems, such as a clog in your floor drain, you may need to rent a power auger with a cable length of 50 feet or more. For other jobs, a smaller auger will suffice. It requires extending the snake like device through the pipe and cranking it through the accumulated junk.

You can also make your own drain snake at home with a pipe cleaner or a wire hanger. Cut a 2-liter bottle into a spiral with "teeth" in it, which is a very effective and cheap alternative to store bought drain snakes.

WET VACUUM ("SHOP VAC")

Wet and dry vacuums are powerful appliances with a lot of suction. Set a wet vacuum to "liquids" and cover the vent. Remember to create a very tight seal around the drain and cover the overflow tube with a finger or rag.

The power of a wet vacuum can often be enough to draw the clogged material up and unclog the drain. Check the bag for hair and grease in order to identify the source of the clog. A wet vacuum can also work well when trying to recover jewelry from a drain.

HOME REMEDIES

Chemical drain cleaners can be expensive and aren't always good for you or the environment. For an easy at-home solution, mix up salt and baking soda, pour it down the drain, wait 20 minutes and then chase it with boiling water.

Often, the ensuing chemical reaction from your at-home solution is enough to dissolve the blockage and repair your clogged drain. When you need help from the experts, call the professionals at Roto-Rooter for all of your residential plumbing needs.

Another popular home remedy is a combination of sending boiling water down the pipes and then following it with baking soda and then vinegar. This method is worth trying because you probably have all the needed ingredients at home, but if the clog is stubborn you’ll need to move on to one of the other methods talked about here.

PLUNGER

A plunger is an inexpensive tool that should be kept on hand for small clogs, most commonly found in the toilet. These are perfect for a quick job that require a few thrusts. The key is maintaining a suction strong enough to dislodge the problem.

CHEMICAL CLEANERS

There are a number of chemical drain cleaners, including liquid and solid cleaners, on the market today. Some come as a mixture that reacts when combined to create a foam-like substance that breaks down more of the build up on the pipes. Most of these types of cleaners are a combination of sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide.

SEWER JETTER

A sewer jetter is a high powered hose that uses a controlled high-pressure water source such as a pressure washer, a flexible high pressure line and a nozzle that uses hydraulic force to pull the line into sewer drains, clean the sides of pipes, and flush out residue. It is commonly used by professionals to address a recurring problem and prevent a build-up of residue.

FIXING A CLOGGED DRAIN IS EASIER THAN YOU THINK

A lot of stuff makes its way down the drains in your home. Bits of food in the kitchen sink and hairs in the bathroom, all combine with soap and can clog your drains. The good news is there are easy ways to fix this problem. Here are the steps we recommend for unclogging your drains:

FIRST STEP: PLUNGING

The most trustworthy tool in the at-home plumber's arsenal is the plunger. This time-tested device is proven to defeat some of the toughest drain clogs, but only when used properly. Many people have a plunger on hand for their toilet, but it works just as effectively on a bath or sink drain. However, you may want to disinfect the surface of the plunger before using it in these places.

If you're plunging a bathtub or sink drain, first remove the stopper or strainer within the drain if possible. Next, run the faucet for a few seconds to build up some standing water in the basin of the tub or sink. This will provide some extra force to work against the blockage. To focus as much pressure as possible into the drain, use your hands or a towel to cover up any overflow holes in the tub or sink.

Once you're ready, apply rapid force to the drain with the plunger, making sure not to break the seal. Run the water to test the drain out and clear away any debris.

WET VACUUM

If you don't have a plunger, but do have a wet/dry vacuum, you have a great tool for unclogging drains. Simply turn it to the wet setting and cover the drain.

SECOND STEP: CHEMICALS

If plunging doesn't do the trick, you might have some luck using drain-clearing chemicals that you can find at most hardware stores. These usually include directions for use, but generally you will want to make sure you pour the solution directly into the drain, wait a few minutes and then flush with hot water. You could also make your own drain cleaner by first pouring a half cup of baking soda into the drain, then dumping one cup of vinegar mixed with one cup of hot water.

THIRD STEP: CALL THE PROS

If nothing else works, be sure to call Roto-Rooter to have your drains inspected and cleared in no time.

HOW TO USE A PLUNGER FOR YOUR SINK

When you have a clogged sink, what do you do about it? Pour hot water down the drain? Try to fish out the offending object with a hanger? Use chemicals? These options all have their use cases, but more often than not a plunger is the best option for the sink.

While most of us associate plungers with the toilet, they're great for unclogging drains all around your house – provided you know what you're doing, of course. If you don't know how to use a plunger for your sink, then check out our easy “how-to” video or follow these steps:

First, choose the right type. Plungers are not a one-size-fits-all tool, as you need the right one for the job. As opposed to a protruding flange plunger, the classic flat-on-the-bottom plunger is meant for sinks. Since sinks are flat on the bottom, so too should the plunger you use. That way, you can create a tight seal, which is needed in order for a plunger to work properly.

Next, make sure you're using it correctly. Once a tight seal has been created to ensure you have a vacuum in place, gently compress and then use force to pull back up. This way, the item clogging the drain goes up and out, as opposed to becoming further stuck in there.

Even if you know how to use a plunger for your sink, you may still find that the drain remains clogged. Fear not if this happens to you, as it's a common occurrence. Instead of taking the whole sink apart to remove the clog, simply call your nearest Roto-Rooter plumbing professional for help. A professional plumber has the knowledge and skill set needed to handle specialty jobs. When plungers aren't up to the task, a professional plumber is just a phone call away.

SNAKING DRAINS

Most pipes under the floor are 2, 3 or 4-inches in diameter. The piping for sinks and similar fixtures inside the wall are 1 1/4-inch or 1-1/2 inch in diameter. Just like the branches on a tree, every branch line in a home gets larger as it gets closer to the main line.

A small hand snake is designed to open minor clogs in small traps or branches. They are not designed to clear the lines under your floor. If the floor line is clogged, you need something bigger for the sewer cleaning.

When drain cleaning, you need to use the cutting blades that are set to the inside diameter of the pipe. So to clear a 2-inch drain you would need a pair of 2-inch blades. If not, a 2-inch blade in a 3-inch pipe will leave 1-inch of scum in the pipe.

Roto-Rooter provides sewer cleaning services, 24 hours a day, should you need assistance. "Call Roto-Rooter, that's the name. And away go troubles down the drain!"

CLEAR CLOGGED DRAINS AT THE OFFICE – COMMERCIAL DRAINS

When most people think of clogged drains, they picture a residential toilet or kitchen sink. The truth is that while commercial drains may not clog as frequently as residential drains, the clogs are often harder to remedy. Roto-Rooter plumbing service professionals have the equipment and know-how to tackle any commercial or industrial-size sewer or drain clog. We can also handle any commercial grade plumbing repairs or installations. About half of Roto-Rooter’s business involves commercial plumbing & drain service for North American businesses.

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