Clogged drains are among the most common reasons plumbers are called to people’s homes according to a number of industry reports. No matter how careful you are, dirt, hair, food, grease and other substances are bound to build up in your sink, tub or toilet drains over time. Though these clogs start off as minor issues like slow drainage, they can quickly grow to debilitating proportions.
Taking the DIY Route
While some plumbing issues are best left to the professionals, drain cleaning is one problem that may not warrant outside intervention. Consider trying a simple, effective drain cleaning method from this list of tried-and-true approaches before calling in the pros.
1) Use a Drain Snake
Drain snakes are readily available at almost any store that sells home improvement or repair supplies. They’re worked down into drains until they reach the offending clog. From there, they use tiny hooks or small coils to grab the clog and pull it out.
These tools come in a number of styles and price ranges, but you may want to start off with a simple, inexpensive model. After gaining some experience with it, you can work your way up to more elaborate and costly alternatives if desired. Consider buying a drain snake before a problem develops so it’ll be on hand when the need arises.
2) The Wire Hanger Method
If you find yourself facing a clog after the hardware store has closed or don’t have time to go out and buy a drain snake, a wire hanger may suffice. Straighten out the hanger as much as possible, but leave some of its hook intact.
Maneuver the hanger into the drain and root around with it until you find the clog. The hook of the hanger will work on the same basic principle as the drain snake, grabbing foreign material and pulling it out of the drain.
3) Clean out the Sink Trap
In many cases, clogs form in the sink trap, the bend in the sink pipe shaped like a J or U. If you don’t mind things getting a little messy, removing the trap, cleaning it out and putting it back into place isn’t terribly difficult.
First off, place an empty bucket under the sink trap to catch anything that might come out when it’s removed. Then, get out the trusty channel locks and use them to loosen the slip joint nuts. Those are the round fittings at each end of the trap.
The sink trap pipe should have an O-ring in place at the slip joint nut. Be sure to take it out and set it safely aside because it creates a seal and prevents leaks. From there, use a brush to scrub out any buildup inside the trap and rinse it thoroughly in a sink other than the one you’re working on. Once it’s clean, simply put the trap and O-ring back into place and retighten the slip joint nuts.
4) Get the Plunger
Plungers work wonders on toilet clogs, but they can also be effective for those in sink drains. Put the plunger over the affected drain and put a little elbow grease behind it. This force may be enough to break up the clog.
5) Baking Soda, Salt, and Vinegar
If you’re looking for a less hands-on approach, this may be the answer. Mix a ½ cup of baking soda with a ¼ cup of table salt and pour the mixture into the clogged drain. If it doesn’t actually go down the drain immediately, don’t worry.
Then, heat one cup of white vinegar and pour it into the drain as well. A chemical reaction will ensue, causing the mixture to fizz. Allow it to work its magic on the clog for 15 minutes or so and follow up by running hot water down the drain for about a minute.
Drain clogs are common and can be caused by anything from grease and food particles to hair and cosmetic products. Getting rid of them is usually a simple task that can be accomplished without the help of a professional. These five methods are the safest, simplest and most effective DIY drain cleaning options out there.