Indoor plumbing is a luxury we tend to take for granted until it suddenly fails to function correctly. However, it is all too common to have to deal with clogged toilets, slow-draining sinks, or a shower that is slowly filling around your ankles instead of quickly draining. There are different causes and solutions to drain issues throughout the home.
Every homeowner or renter should know how to clear a clogged drain and what to do when faced with this common plumbing issue. What they should do with a plugged drain and what not to do. Below are various tricks to dealing with plumbing issues as well as a few pitfalls to be aware of. The good news is that there are several reliable methods to resolve these obstructions and get your drainage back on track.
What Are the Major Causes of Drain Blockages
Depending on where the block is located, there may be a different cause for the drain blockage. Water can be trapped in your pipes by hair, soap scum, or even mineral or hard water deposits. Flushing anything that doesn’t belong in a toilet, or even non-disintegrating wipes, can cause major issues.
In the kitchen, other culprits could include grease or scraps from cooking, such as vegetable peels.
Of course, it is better to prevent clogged drains altogether. According to one popular home warranty company, the easiest way to take care of your drains is to limit what goes into them.
Simple Home Drain Clearing Methods Including Advantages and Disadvantages
In many cases, if you can locate or eliminate the source of the blockage, you may be able to clear it. Keep in mind that the methods you use on a system that runs on septic vs. city water may differ. Septic systems are specialized and require further consideration.
Below are three specific drain-clearing methods you can try and when they may be appropriate.
The theory behind this method is that pouring 8–12 cups of boiling water down the drain may help to break up the clot and melt grease or oily substances. Best for blockages in kitchen and bathroom sinks.
- Easy to try
- Natural, no chemicals
- Only effective on minor blockages
- Must be careful not to splash boiling water on yourself or others
- If the drain is blocked, existing cold water will cool the boiled water rendering it ineffective
Drain Clearing Chemicals
Drain-clearing chemicals can be purchased from many home improvement stores and even your local grocer. These can be effective in clearing blockages in sinks and tubs.
It is important to note that many drain cleaning products are not appropriate for toilets, garbage disposals, or septic fields. The instructions and safety precautions on the labels of these products should always be followed carefully. Be very careful when purchasing a drain cleaning product that it is suitable for the type of drain you are attempting to unblock as well as the type of plumbing system that you own.
- Easy to use and purchase
- Can be effective against clogs
- Corrosive, use harsh chemicals that can damage pipes
- Can be dangerous if not used correctly
- Most can not be used safely with toilets
Physical methods (plunging, drain snake, or plastic tools)
A plunger is your best friend when dealing with clogged toilets, while a drain snake or auger is better for clearing clogs from sinks and tubs.
- No harsh chemicals
- Can be quite effective
- May not work on stubborn clogs or blockages that are further into pipes
When to Call a Pro: Signs of a Serious Drainage Issue
Even if you manage to clear your drains enough to let water through, it may only be a band-aid. If the source of the issue is further inside your pipes, no matter how much you clean it just won’t go away. Water that will not drain can cause damage to your pipes and frustration that you don’t deserve.
For stubborn or professional drain clearing it is usually better to call in the pros to avoid more costly repairs or blockages in the future.