How to Clear Your Own Drain Clog | Nick's Plumbing Tips

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Clearing Your Own Drain Clog

Dealing with drain clogs is much more about being proactive than reactive, in that it is much easier to prevent a clog than it is to clear one. Most drain clogs are confined to a single sink or tub and are simple for the homeowner to remove without needing a call to a plumbing company.

Why Is My Drain Clogged?

Many homeowners see a clogged drain, and their first response is to place a call to a plumbing company to take care of the problem. While Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning Services certainly don’t mind coming to your home and clearing your clogged drain issue, but it is a task most folks can do themselves.

Kitchen sink drain clogs are usually related to garbage disposals, or more accurately, what gets put into a garbage disposal. Some people treat their garbage disposal like it’s a trash can, scraping everything from their plates into the sink. Cooking grease, pasta, rice, or anything sticky will cling to drainpipe walls, building up from the outside until the entire drain line is blocked. Bathroom sink drains, and bathtub drains develop clogs thanks to soap and shampoo residue, hair, toothpaste, and even kid’s bath toys.

What Can I Do Myself to Prevent Drain Clogs?

We’ve all heard the expression “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and it proves incredibly accurate when it comes to drainpipes. Be mindful of what is going into your garbage disposal, and let your family know to scrape their plates into the trash before putting them into the sink or dishwasher. Install sink and tub drain plates in all bathroom fixtures to prevent hair and other debris from getting into your bathroom drains.

By performing some essential maintenance on your plumbing, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in plumbing repair. Once-a-month use of a biologic-based drain cleaner keeps live, active bacteria feeding on any organic waste and soap in your drains.

My Drain Is Clogged, Now What Do I Do?

The first rule is, don’t panic. Clogged drains are unwelcome yet frequent house guests, but they don’t have to ruin your day. There are several DIY approaches you can take to eliminate that pesky clog, from mixing baking soda and vinegar, to using a plumber’s snake (yikes!). Before attempting any of these drain clearing methods, use a bucket to get as much water as possible out of the sink.

Baking Soda & Vinegar:

While it’s not a recipe for a cocktail you’d serve at your next dinner party, baking soda and vinegar can be a huge help to break up a drain clog. Start with one half-cup of baking soda, pour it into the affected drain, follow it with a full cup of white vinegar, and cover it. The foaming action will get into the clog’s nooks and crannies, breaking it up and separating it from your pipe walls. Remove the drain cover after 15 – 20 minutes and finish the job by running hot water into the drain for another 5 – 10 minutes.


Often referred to as the “plumber’s best friend,” the mighty plunger has helped us in our most difficult times. Never do we appreciate the work our plungers do more than when they’re working to free up a stubborn tub or toilet clog that we’d never want to touch ourselves. Cup style plungers, which are the most familiar, are useful for dislodging clogs in flat-mounted drains, like those in sinks and bathtubs. Before plunging a kitchen sink, cover any overflow drains with a wet towel to keep air from escaping and collecting any water that may escape.

Place the cup over the center of the drain and be sure that there is enough standing water in the sink or tub to cover the plunger bell. About 20 – 30 seconds of vigorous plunging, pull the plunger out of the sink and watch your problem swirl down your drain.

Plumbing Snake:

While the previous methods are all effective on a clog in your drainpipe or p-trap, many clogs extend into the pipes in walls and under floors. For a distant clog, you’ll need a plumbing snake, also called a cable auger, to help you clear it. These plumbing snakes are available in lengths up to 100 feet, but for a drain clog, a 25-footer should be sufficient.

The plumbing snake works when fed into a clogged drain line by breaking through the center of a blockage and pulling it out. The steel cable is fed from a circular drum by operating a hand crank that rotates the cable, allowing it to scrape the sides of the pipe walls. If the manual plumbing snake fails to restore proper flow from your drains, it may be time to consider calling in a professional plumbing company.

When Should You Call a Plumber for a Clogged Drain?

Everybody’s drains, or toilets back up at some point. It’s one of the rites of passage for owning a home. The occasional drain clog that you can resolve yourself, either with a plunger or drain clearing products isn’t a cause for alarm. Repeated clogs in the same drain, or simultaneous clogs in several drains can be a sign of sewer line issues that need to be addressed by a qualified plumbing company.

Nick’s Plumbing and Air Conditioning Services has been Houston’s drain and sewer pipe experts since 1979, clearing clogs and restoring your pipes to like-new condition. We offer free estimates and free second opinions on any plumbing work, and we back our work with a warranty.

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