The sink takes somewhat longer to drain. You start to notice water pooling around your toes in the shower. The odd, unpleasant odors. They’re all signs that you may soon be facing a clogged drain. And then one day, boom. Your drain is blocked completely. It’s something you will need to manage fast or face the wrath of a burst pipe or a useless bathroom.
So you remove the extra hair and gunk which have built up at the surface of the drain. You try some liquid. No good. Then, the plunger. But what happens when it does not come to the rescue? Here are 8 ways to deal with the blockages before resorting to that costly emergency plumber.
- Simple enough, but surprisingly effective. Take a normal wire coat hanger and straighten it out as best you can. Then, bend one end over to create a small hook. Push that beyond the drain cover and start fishing. You need to be able to get all kinds of hair and nasty things out of the drain. Remember, you always want to be pulling gunk out, not pushing it farther. When you have got as much out as you can, run the hot water, and it should clear things up nicely.
- Baking Soda and Vinegar. Mix 1/3rd of A cup of baking soda with 1/3rd of a cup of vinegar in a measuring cup. It will fizz immediately, and you should waste no time pouring it down the clogged drain. The fizzing action will help remove the gunk, hair, and grime built up in the pipe. Let it sit for an hour or even overnight if you’re able to. Flush with hot water. Alternately, get as much of the dry baking soda as possible down the drain, then pour on the vinegar.
- If you have a wet & dry shop vacuum, it can become a terrific tool to unclog drains. First, set it to vacuum liquids. Cover up the vent to avoid a mess. Then, create the tightest seal you can over the drain. You might want to get creative and adapt an old plunger head for this purpose. The vacuum turned on its highest setting, and it can be strong enough to draw up the clog the pipe and into the vacuum bag. It doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a shot.
- Boiling Water. Tips don’t get any easier than this. Put the kettle on (or use the stove or microwave if you don’t own a kettle) and boil up as much water as it will hold. Now pour it slowly down the drain in two to three phases, allowing the hot water to work for several seconds between each pour. This is usually the simplest and quickest way to unclog a drain.
- Get some rubber gloves and eye protection. Caustic soda (also called Sodium Hydroxide) can cause nasty chemical burns. You can pick some up from the local hardware store, but always use caution in managing it. Pour 3/4 gallons of water into a mop bucket, then add 3 cups of caustic soda. Stir it well with a classic wooden spoon. It will begin to fizz and heat up. Pour it into the clogged drain and leave for 20-30 minutes, then flush the drain with boiling water. Fixing the Pipe.
- There are some plumbing jobs that I will not do, but this one is simple. First, place an empty bucket underneath the U-shaped pipe (the trap) beneath the sink. The bucket will collect the water which will spill. With a plumber’s wrench, loosen the slip nuts at both ends of the pipe. You need to be able to complete the operation by hand. When the trap is free, remove it and flip it upside down, emptying the contents into the bucket. You may also need to fish around inside it for debris and do the same with the pipes holding it. An old toothbrush is great for getting the tough gunk out. Rinse the trap with water and then put it all back together. Generally, that will have done the trick.
- The Drain Snake. This Is a fairly low-tech piece of equipment that works wonders. It is a very long flexible metal rope using a spiral of metal at the end.
- Salt and Baking Soda
Mix 1/2 cups of table salt with 1/2 cup of baking soda and pour the blocked drain. Leave it for 10-20 minutes, then pour boiling water down. The salt, baking soda, and boiling water will make a chemical reaction that should dissolve some of the nastiest blockages.
Those are 8 quick and easy tips that should help you deal with the most stubborn blockages. Do you have any great tips? Let us know.