Whether you are facing a clogged shower drain, sink drain, or toilet, the prospect of calling a plumber is never your most favorite choice. The worst plumbers are expensive, slow to respond, or might not know what they are doing. Comparatively, The best plumbers will get to you on time and often according to your schedule. Although they might know what they are doing, they are always expensive.
Consequently, if you can unclog the drain yourself, you can potentially save hundreds of dollars and hours of headache. Fortunately, a variety of chemicals and DIY gadgets afford you a pretty good opportunity to fix the problem and return to the routine of your daily life.
1. Vinegar and baking soda
Vinegar and baking soda are the first line of defense against many minor clogs. When mixed, baking soda and vinegar creates a bubbly, slightly acidic froth that can help dissolve dirt and grease.
Of course, you do not want to simply mix the vinegar and baking soda because the mixture will foam and settle before you have a chance to pour it into the drain. Additionally, if you spoon baking soda into your drain, you will find that most of it ends up on the sides of the pipes. Because you want the baking soda to get as close to the drain as possible, you should use baking-soda tablets.
If you drop a baking-soda tablet into the drain, gravity will usually take it right to the p-trap, which is usually the location of the clog. If you drop several tablets into the drain, you can then pour vinegar straight into the pipe. It will burst with foam, but this foam will help break of the clog and get you on your way.
Detergent is the best chemical to break up grease, and if you pour detergent in your drain then follow it with boiling water, the mixture can be enough to break up grease clogs. Detergent will not work on hair, so it is not the go-to solution for shower clogs, but for kitchen sinks, the clog is likely to be grease. In terms of effectiveness, the hot water will melt the grease, and the detergent will keep it from re-coagulating. That said, you might need to repeat the process a few times to cut through thick clogs.
A plunger is one of the most effective solutions for clogs. Used in conjunction with boiling water and detergent, it will create a suction that weakening clogs cannot withstand. For it to be effective, you need to create an airtight seal. Toilets provide a natural seal, but for a sink or shower, you might have to fill the basin with water.
4. Hook and grab
The hook-and-grab method is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Using a hanger or other gadget, you insert the hook into the drain. Getting as close to the clog is important, so a thin, pliable hanger will come in handy. Thick ones do not work because they will not bend properly into the p-trap. Once you reach some sort of resistance, all you need do is simply dig, pull, and extract as much of the clog as possible.
If a hanger does not work, you can purchase for a few bucks a zip stake. Zip stakes are thin and flexible enough to curve with the p-trap. Additionally, they have several serrated teeth along both edges, which work well at grabbing hair or other debris and breaking it up.
These types of solutions are best for showers where hair likely comprise the bulk of the clog. Once the hair is removed, the rest of the clog is easily disposed of with a plunger.
5. Drill snake
Snakes are long, flexible rods designed to be inserted into drains. They have a tooth system at one end and usually a handle or an attachment at the other. The tooth system breaks up clogs. The attachment at the other end allows you to connect the snake to a tool, such as a power drill, and spin the snake at high revolutions.
For small drains, a power-drill snake will work on just about any clog–if you can reach the clog. If you do not have a power drill, you can purchase a snake with a hand rotor that allows you to crank a handle and rotate the snake. Again, the hand-rotor snake will dislodge any clog–if you can remove it.
6. P-trap removal
With any clog, it might eventually be necessary to get under the sink and remove the p-trap. The p-trap is an s-curved section of PVC pipe that naturally fills with water. This water keeps the stench of disposal from rising up out of your pipes and filling your home. Water and gravity are enough to keep the p-trap clear. However, when objects that water cannot move get lodged into the p-trap, your pipe can develop a clog. Additionally, if grease builds up over time, the p-trap can become constricted until it can no longer move water.
Usually, to remove a p-trap, you simply need to unscrew both connectors at either end of the trap. PVC is modular, so each section usually consists of a connector that can easily be unscrewed. Sometimes, however, the PVC piping will be glued together. In these cases, you will need to see through the pipe, clean it out, and purchase a new p-trap to replace the old.
7. Power snake and scope
Power snakes are for large-scale, serious blockages usually found in plumbing mains. Clogs in these types of pipes are usually slow forming and can consist of foot after foot of waste material. As such, no amount of baking soda and vinegar or detergent will unclog your pipe.
For this, you should rent a power snake. A .5-inch snake or a .75-inch snake will work. If you have a 3-inch pipe, a .5-inch snake will work. If you have a 4-inch main, you will need a .75-inch snake, or within the extra width of the pipe, a smaller snake will curl and twist and tangle in on itself, creating an entirely new problem.
To use the snake, you will need access to your plumbing main, which can usually be found outside or in a basement. Because of the stiffness of the snake, you cannot simply thread the snake into a toilet. Additionally, the high-performance snake will not curve properly through small p-traps.
That said, once you access the plumbing main, a power snake with a 100-foot cable will break up any and all blockages. Their effectiveness is why they are the go-to solution for professional plumbers.
Of course, sometimes, you need to call a plumber. When that happens, simply Google “Blocked Drains Canberra” to find a qualified technician to help you with your drain. Look for someone that meets your schedule and has years of experience. Additionally, look for someone who will not, as they say, break the bank.