Drain Cleaning: Easy Ways to Unclog Your Drains
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Posted June 1, 2017
Luckily, there are many times when a homeowner can unclog their own system. If there are any doubts, however, be sure to call a professional plumber.
Here are some strategies for unclogging the drains in your home.
How to Unclog a Toilet
Perhaps the most common drain clog of them all, toilet clogs cause more problems than any other piece of your plumbing. In order to prevent toilet clogs in the first place, learn what not to flush down the toilet.
While not enjoyable, it’s definitely necessary to unclog toilets as soon as possible. So, roll up your sleeves, grab some gloves if you want and get to work.
The easiest way is with a plunger:
- Don’t flush the toilet. If you don’t have enough water to submerge the plunger into add some from a bucket or another container.
- TIP: Adding warm/hot water and a little soap to the water will help break down the clog. Make sure there is enough water to submerge the head of the plunger into.
- Just in case, cover the area around the toilet with newspaper or another throwaway covering.
- Start plunging, but be gentle. The trick is to create a suction effect. Pressure will do the job for you. Try to pull up and down without breaking the seal.
- If all else fails, turn the water off (a silver knob underneath and behind the toilet) and call your local plumber.
- Don’t use a wire hanger or plumber snake unless you’re ready for a much messier method. Also, be careful about harsh chemical cleaners as they can be toxic and damaging to your pipes and the environment. If the clog is serious enough, you’ll need a plumber’s assistance.
Learn more tips for preventing and unclogging toilet drain on our Plumbing FAQ.
How to Unclog Shower Drains
Ok, we’re going to warn you that this is going to get really nasty. Make sure you have plenty of disposable gloves. You won’t want to be reusing these gloves for any reason.
1. Remove the Stopper
- There are many different kinds of shower drain stopper types. Sometimes it is really to remove, sometimes not so much. Usually, you can remove the drainer/stopper with a simple screwdriver.
- If you have any questions about how to remove your drain stopper, don’t hesitate to contact Hiller.
2. Use a Tool
- Use a plumber’s snake if you have one. Feed the cable into the drain until it hits an obstruction. Then turn the handle clockwise to catch the clog and pull it out.
- If you don’t have a plumber’s snake, use a stiff wire. A bent wire coat hanger can also work. Try to bend a little hook at the end of the wire to help snag hair and other obstructions.
- A plunger can also help clear your shower clogs. Simply fill the water up so that the rubber end of the plunger is submerged; then pull up and down on the plunger without breaking the seal.
- Don’t drain your patience and energy by trying to fix difficult drain clogs. As with all plumbing problems, contact your local plumber if you have any doubts or problems.
How to Unclog Bathroom Sinks
Read this post for in-depth instructions for unclogging your bathroom sink. Usually bathroom sinks get clogged up by hair, so you can usually unclog the drain with wire hanger or plumber’s snake.
- First, you’ll need to remove the drain stopper. Do this by getting underneath the sink and release the spring clip that keep s the stopper in place.
- After the stopper is removed, put on some disposable gloves. Then insert the plumber’s snake or wire hanger into the drain and remove as much hair as you can.
- After you have sufficiently unclogged the drain, put everything back together again.
- Click here for full instructions on unclogging bathroom sinks.
You can also use a plunger, but it won’t do the job on its own. They aren’t great for hair clogs, but can help bring the material closer to the opening so that you can remove it. Avoid harsh chemical drain cleaners and remember to call your plumber if you have any questions.
How to Unclog Kitchen Sinks
While you could go out and buy a toxic drain cleaner, these tend to be more harm than they are worth. Instead, we’re going to teach you the natural nontoxic route.
Kitchen sinks tend to get stopped up by grease and food particles. The best way to prevent kitchen sinks from getting clogged in the first place, use your drain catchers and watch what you put down the garbage disposal.
Never put grease, oils, or fats down the drain These substances cling to the objects and cause huge problems for residential plumbing and municipal septic systems. Whenever you have excess oil, put it into a glass container and either recycle it (yes, you can recycle oil and grease) or you can throw it out in the garbage. Whatever, you do, don’t pour int don the sink.
Instead of using Drano or other chemical drain cleaners, try removing the clog the natural way by checking the P-trap first.
Materials: bucket, wrench or pliers, rags, and a cleaning brush
- Place your bucket underneath the P-trap.
- Turn of the water supply to the sink. Usually there are two turnoff knobs underneath the sinks. You can tighten them (righty tighty) with your hands. Test that the water is off by turning on the hot and cold lines. You can also turn off the main water shutoff valve. Learn how to locate a shut off your main water valve.
- After the water has been shut off, get underneath you sin and unscrew the slip joint nuts on both sides of the trap (lefty loosey). You may be able to twist these off by hand, but if not, use your channel lock pliers.
- Use your cleaning brush to remove any blockage that may be in the trap.
- Put the slip nuts back on with your hands. Tighten them a little with your pliers but be careful not to overtighten them.
If cleaning out the trap doesn’t work, you may have a problem with your garbage disposal. In that case, read on.
How to Unclog Garbage Disposals
First, you want to know what you can and cannot put down your garbage disposal. Click the link above for prevention tips and step-by-step instructions.
WARNING: Don’t use chemical drain cleaners for drain clogs, ESPECIALLY your garbage disposal. Don’t use a plunger either as this can damage your disposal. NEVER put your hands down the disposal, even if it’s off.
TIP: Sometimes your garbage disposal will turn itself off in the event of a dangerous overheating or arcing situation. If your unit won’t turn on at all, try pushing the red switch at the bottom of the disposal unit to reset it.
- Before you do anything, you must turn off power to the garbage disposal at its source. Either unplug it or switch off the power at the circuit breaker. Make sure you test the disposal to make sure it’s out of commission.
- Next, take a look inside the unit with a high-powered flashlight. Use tongs or something similar to remove anything that may be clogged. NEVER use your hands!
- At the bottom of every garbage disposal, there is a socket wrench that an Allen wrench fits into. If you have a ¼ Allen wrench or a Hex-Torx key, you can simply place it into the socket and move it back and forth until the clog becomes dislodged.
- Once you think the flywheel is clear of obstructions, turn the power back on to your unit. Run some cold water, then flip the switch to see if there is any response. If you have power, and the switch has been on for 5 seconds, turn the power back off and try turning the Allen wrench a few more times.
- If you have any questions or difficulties, turn off power to the unit and contact your local plumber as soon as you can.
Click here for a full list of what you should never put down the garbage disposal.
- Don’t put too much of anything down the garnage disposal at one time.
- Never put inorganic materials, such as plastic down the disposal.
- Avoid putting bones and starchy foods down the disposal.
- Run cold water while you run the garbage disposal. This helps harden any greases or oils that may be on the food.
You can help clean and maintain your garbage disposal by putting some ice and citrus wedges into it every month or so. This not only deodorizes the unit, it also helps to clean and sharpen the blades.
- Never dump chemicals like paint or paint thinner down the drain. Avoid pouring hot wax or other substances in the drains.
- If you have your own home septic tank, have a professional inspect it every two to three years. Some regions require septic tank inspection on a regular basis. Check with your local health board about the rules in your community.
- Every six months, keep your drains running clear by using a non-caustic drain cleaner.
Hiller wants to heal your home and ease your stress. Our licensed plumbers know how to do the job right the first time.
If you try these methods and still can’t unclog your bathroom sink, contact Hiller today!
Whether you need emergency plumbing service or just some regular plumbing maintenance, our professional plumbers will tackle your problem with 100% money-back guarantee.
Call Hiller at 844-MyHiller (694-4553) or submit your request online.