Maintaining clear drains is crucial to preventing clogs and complete stoppages of drain pipes and sewer lines. Kitchen sinks and their integrated garbage disposals encourage homeowners to cram everything left on our plates and in our pots and pans into our drains. Sure, garbage disposals are a tremendous convenience when cleaning up after a family dinner, but what happens to all that junk we put into our plumbing?
Drain clogs in kitchen sinks are one of the most common plumbing service calls and with good reason. The most common contributing factor with a kitchen sink clog is putting too much of anything into it, like cooking grease, pasta, rice, and other sticky stuff.
Bathroom drains, including showers and toilets, account for the remainder of calls plumbing companies get for drain clogs. Using too much toilet paper (admit it, you’re guilty) or putting things into our toilets that should never be there, from paper towels and hygiene products to stuffed animals.
You’d be amazed at some of the things we’ve pulled out of some folks’ toilets. Ask your plumber what the weirdest thing they’ve ever pulled out of a clogged toilet was. Brace yourself and remember…you asked!
A Drain Cleaning Day Keeps the Plumber Away!
Yes, we stole a generic saying and manipulated it into a brilliant way to get you to clean out your disgusting drains. It’s a lot better than the other idea I had: “Your Plumbing is Pooped Out,” so be grateful I erred on the side of good taste.
Give your drains a “spa day” twice a year, using some simple do-it-yourself techniques. By following a schedule of regular cleanings, you can keep your drainage system flowing freely without worry. Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning is happy to endorse any of these DIY drain cleaning solutions.
While baking soda and vinegar work great in a sink, tub, or shower drain, that method is completely ineffective when used in a toilet. The only method that is genuinely effective at destroying a toilet clog is the plunger.
Did you know there are three different types of toilet plunger available and that each one is suited to a specific kind of clog? The best types to use on a toilet blockage would be a “flange” plunger, which has a cap that forms a seal with the bowl, or the “accordion” plunger, which looks like the bellows of an accordion. The accordion plunger is useful for difficult clogs in the toilet’s U-trap, as it uses hi-pressure air to force the clog entirely through the pipe.
Baking Soda & Vinegar:
I’ll bet you never thought you’d have a reason to make a volcano after your middle school science fair, but here we are. Grab a box of baking soda and a bottle of white vinegar and follow these simple instructions.
First, boil a small pot of water, and pour that into the drain you want to clean, followed by ¾ of a cup of baking soda. Next, pour another cup of boiling water into the drain, followed by one full cup of white vinegar, and watch the magic happen. Once this mixture has finished fizzing, run the hot water tap until the drain flows freely. If your drains haven’t been cleaned in a while, or ever, you may need to repeat this process a few times for maximum effect.
Wire Coat Hangers:
Yes, it’s going to make “Mommie Dearest” mad, but go to the closet, grab a wire coat hanger, and straighten it out, leaving a small hook at one end. If the drain you’re working on has a removable drain cover, use a screwdriver to remove it, and please, don’t drop the screw down the drain. That’s a whole different DIY blog that I’m not prepared to write.
Slide the hooked end of the coat hanger into the drain as far as you can and use a rotating motion while pulling back on the hanger. You should be able to dislodge and remove any hair clogs or other debris that have not yet made it into the P-trap of the drainpipe.
The purpose of this fishing trip is to remove as much gunk and waste from your drain as possible. In bathroom sinks and shower drains, be prepared to pull out clumps of hair, soap, shampoo residue, maybe even a small bottle cap or jewelry piece. Once the drain has given up all its treasures, run the hot water tap for a few minutes to flush any remaining debris out.
Clean the P-Trap:
if you’ve tried other methods to clear a sink drain and haven’t had success in restoring flow, the problem could be a clog in the sink’s P-trap. Look under any sink, and you’ll find a pipe that leads to your home’s drainage and sewer lines. In the middle of that pipe is a bend that will usually resemble the letter “P” in its shape. Sometimes, this pipe looks more like a “U” but is still referred to as a “P-Trap.” Things like this are what make it so hard to pass the plumber’s license exam.
Regardless of its appearance, the P-trap is easy to remove with a pair of channel-lock pliers. Place a large bowl or pot under the trap to catch any standing water, loosen the fittings on either end of the trap fitting, and pull out the trap. Clear any debris out of the trap, and use your coat hanger from earlier to clear any crud from the drainpipe.
My Drain or Sewer Line Is Still Blocked. Now, What Do I Do?
Sometimes a clog is too dense or too far down along the sewer line to be removed by home remedies. One thing Nick’s Plumbing recommends that you never do is using a chemical-based drain cleaner like Drano, or Liquid Plum’r, as these products are acidic and can cause burns and breathing difficulties when misused. Even when used according to their instructions, chemical drain cleaners not only eat away at your clogs but also cause damage to your plumbing.
If you’re frustrated by a single drain clog that just won’t clear, or have multiple drain back-ups throughout your home, give Nick’s Plumbing & Air Conditioning a call. Our trained, licensed, and experienced plumbing technicians arrive in trucks fully-equipped with every diagnostic and clog-busting tool needed to restore your drain and sewer lines to like-new condition.