The 6 Best Methods to Clean a Drain

January 31, 2024

A clogged drain is a household nuisance that can disrupt daily life and lead to numerous issues if you don’t address it quickly. Fortunately, there are plenty of DIY methods to tackle drain clogs, but there may be a point when calling a professional plumber is the most practical and effective solution.

Take a look at the 6 best methods to clean a drain from the experts at Seatown Services and find out when it’s best to just call in a professional plumber.

First, Consider the Type of Clog

The method you use to clear a clog depends on the type of clog you have. Here are the factors to consider:

The Severity of the Clog

Some clogs are just partial blockages, such as a sluggish drain. This can happen because of a buildup of grease, soap scum, or food waste that accumulated inside the pipe, reducing the diameter and restricting the volume of water that can flow through. Partial blockages are typically easier to address with gentle methods.

With severe clogs, however, your pipes may be completely blocked, allowing no water in. you may have a sink, tub, or shower filled with standing water. DIY solutions can work on these blockages, but consider the benefits of hiring a professional plumber.

The Composition of the Clog

It’s important to understand what might be causing the clog. In the shower, it’s likely hair or soap residue. Soap scum may respond to DIY methods, but hair may require manual removal. In the kitchen, grease can dissolve with some gentle methods, but fibrous vegetables or animal bones may need more extensive solutions. A toilet, on the other hand, could be anything from a wad of toilet paper to a toy flushed by a curious toddler. Knowing which is most likely is important for understanding how to address the clog.

The Location of the Clog

If you have a slow-draining kitchen or bathroom sink, you could probably clear it easily. The same can be said of a toilet, but some strategies work better than others. For outdoor clogs, you will likely need a professional plumber.

6 Best Methods to Clear a Drain

Now that you’ve done some investigating, here are your options to clear your drain:

1. Boiling Water

For minor clogs caused by grease or soap residue, boiling water can be effective and straightforward. This helps break down and flush away the substances, restoring the natural flow of the drain. Be sure to use caution, however, as boiling water can be dangerous. Avoid using boiling water for PVC pipes because the high temperature can melt them.

2. Baking Soda and Vinegar

One of the most popular and environmentally friendly DIY solutions is baking soda and vinegar. Start by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain followed by one cup of baking soda. Allow it to sit for a minute, then pour a mixture of one cup of vinegar and one cup of hot water down the drain. The chemical reaction between the baking soda and vinegar can break down debris and clear minor blockages. Finish by flushing the drain with hot water.

While this method is effective for mild clogs, it may not be strong enough for stubborn blockages caused by hair, grease buildup, or foreign objects.

3. Plunger

The plunger is a classic choice for clearing clogs in sinks, toilets, and shower drains. To effectively use a plunger, make sure you have enough water in the sink or tub to cover the plunger’s cup. Place the plunger over the drain, creating a tight seal, and vigorously pump it up and down. The suction and pressure of the plunger can dislodge and push debris through the pipe, resolving many common clogs.

Plungers can help with minor clogs, but they may not be powerful enough for more severe blockages that occur deeper in your plumbing system.

4. Chemical Drain Cleaners

Commercial chemical drain cleaners are readily available and usually effective at breaking down clogs caused by organic matter, but they’re not ideal for your pipes. These products often contain harsh chemicals that can be harmful to both the environment and your plumbing. Over time, chemical drain cleaners can corrode your pipes.

If you decide to use a chemical drain cleaner, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Wear protective gear as well, such as gloves and goggles, because these cleaners have health risks. Chemical drain cleaners should only be a last resort, if they’re used at all. It’s better to invest in professional drain cleaning from a professional plumber to get the job done safely and correctly.

5. Augers and Snakes

When you have stubborn clogs that can’t be cleared with a plunger or DIY methods, a drain auger or snake is a valuable tool. These devices are designed to reach deeper into the pipes and physically break up or retrieve blockages. Manual augers are suitable for minor clogs while motorized snakes are more powerful and can tackle more significant obstructions.

Using an auger or snake requires some skill and caution to avoid causing damage to the pipes. It’s essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and if you’re unsure, seek the help of a professional plumber.

6. Hydro-Jetting

Hydro-jetting is a powerful and efficient method used by professional plumbers to clear severe blockages in drains. This technique involves high-pressure water to scour the inside of the pipes and remove built-up debris, grease, and mineral deposits. Hydro-jetting is particularly effective for clearing tree roots that may have infiltrated the plumbing system.

While hydro-jetting is an excellent solution for stubborn clogs, it requires specialized equipment and expertise, so it’s best to rely on professional plumbers.

When to Call a Plumber for Drain Clearing

These methods can be effective for common drain issues, there are instances when calling a professional plumber is the best course of action.

  • Persistent clogs: If you’ve relied on multiple DIY methods without success, it’s a sign that the clog may be more complex and requires professional intervention.
  • Foul odors: Unpleasant smells emanating from your drains could indicate a more significant issue within the plumbing system, such as a blockage or sewer line problem.
  • Slow drains: Persistent slow drainage is often a sign that there’s a partial blockage deeper in your pipes that may require professional attention.
  • Multiple clogs: If you have clogs in more than one plumbing fixture at the same time, it indicates that there’s a deeper problem within your plumbing system that may need a professional plumber to diagnose and resolve.
  • Gurgling sounds: Strange noises coming from your drains, such as gurgling or bubbling, can indicate a blockage or ventilation issue in your plumbing system. This is more involved than a DIY fix.
  • Older plumbing systems: Aging pipes are more susceptible to corrosion, leaks, and blockages. If you have an older home with an aging plumbing system, it’s advisable to consult a plumber for a thorough inspection and maintenance.
  • Comfort level: Many DIY plumbing methods are simple and straightforward, but that doesn’t mean you have to tackle the problem yourself. If you’re not comfortable or would rather not deal with the problem yourself, you can always call a plumber.

How to Prevent Clogs in Your Home

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that also applies to your plumbing. Preventing clogs is often much simpler than fixing them, so here are some tips to avoid clogged drains:

  • Be careful what you flush: A lot of “flushable” products aren’t flushable. Only waste and toilet paper should go in your toilet, not cotton swabs, wipes, or feminine hygiene products. Educate your whole family to ensure everyone is being mindful of flushable products.
  • Dispose of grease and food carefully: Don’t pour grease down your drain, as it will cool and solidify, leading to a blockage that will collect debris. You should also avoid rinsing food particles down the drain unless you have a garbage disposal. Hard foods, such as animal bones or corn cobs, shouldn’t go in your garbage disposal. Dispose of these items in the trash.
  • Install hair traps: Hair is a major source of clogs in the bathroom. Install hair traps in the shower and bathroom sink to capture loose hair and make sure to clean it out regularly to ensure it can do its job.
  • Clean your drains regularly: A little preventative cleaning can go a long way. Flush your drains with baking soda and vinegar on a regular basis, even if they’re not clogged, to keep buildup to a minimum.

Keep Your Drains Clear

Maintaining clear and free flowing drains is essential for your home. While there are several effective methods for cleaning drains on your own, it’s important to recognize when you need the help of a professional. Plumbers have the expertise and tools to tackle stubborn clogs and ensure your plumbing system is cared for properly.

Need professional drain cleaning or plumbing maintenance? Seatown Services can help. Contact us today to schedule your appointment!

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