If you live anywhere with indoor plumbing, then you’ve probably experienced a clogged drain or toilet. While both are relatively harmless and easy to fix, there are ways to prevent clogs from happening and ways to unclog a drain without causing further damage to your plumbing system.
What causes clogs?
Pretty much anything that can go down a drain/toilet can also clog it. One of the biggest culprits for sink and shower drains is loose hair. Those seemingly harmless strands of hair get caught in your pipes and begin to accumulate. Before you know it, you have a large hairball and your sink won’t drain properly. Other types of debris can also cause clogs.
Toilets are prone to clogging when too much toilet paper is used, or too much…ah…other waste gets flushed. What makes toilet clogs especially worrisome is that if you’re not paying attention and flush a clogged toilet, it can very easily overflow on you. Then you have a plumbing problem and a mess in your bathroom.
Easy ways to unclog a drain or toilet
Your first step should be to grab your trusty plunger (you do have a plunger, right?). Make sure there is a little water in the sink (about a quarter of the way filled) and plunge away. Make rapid up and down movements, pausing occasionally to see if the water is draining. If it is, then congratulations, your drain is clear!
The same method applies to your toilet. When the clog is cleared, the remaining water in the bowl will “flush” down. Once the bowl is empty, flush again to ensure the clog is gone. However, be careful. If it looks like the toilet bowl is about to overflow, you can shut the water off by turning the valve behind the toilet. It’s a good idea to have the water tank uncovered before you begin this procedure so you can quickly stop water if necessary.
Plunger didn’t work? Time to bring out the big guns: baking soda and vinegar. You’re going to do the same thing you did as a kid when you combined these two household items to make a volcano.
Before you start, though, you will need to empty the water out of the sink using a bucket. Once the sink is clear of water, start packing baking soda down the drain. Use a spoon to really pack it in there good. You’ll want about a cup of baking soda. Next comes the fun part: pour a cup of vinegar down the drain. The mixture will foam down into the drain, hopefully fixing it. Give the vinegar and baking soda about five minutes to work.
If baking soda and vinegar don’t work, you can try snaking the clog out yourself. You can buy these “snakes” at any hardware store. Slowly work the snake down the drain, gently twisting the handle as you go. When the snake hits the clog you’ll feel some resistance. Keep twisting it, and slowly bring it back up. The clog should come out with it.
When all else fails…
Call a plumber. Some clogs are much deeper in the plumbing system than the average homeowner can get to. There’s no shame in calling a professional.
If your sink is draining slowly (or not at all), or your toilet won’t unclog, despite your best efforts, call us today and we can get your pipes running smoothly in no time. Our professionally licensed plumbers are experienced in removing all types of clogs and will have your drain running normally in no time.