Whether it’s your sink or shower, no one likes dealing with a clogged drain. Not only is it annoying, you run the risk of water overflowing and doing serious damage to your flooring and walls. Before we go into the best techniques for unclogging your drain once and for all, knowing the shape and structure of drains and how they work is essential.
The Trap – For better or for worse
If you’ve ever looked under your sink and seen the drain pipes, you’ll likely notice that it forms an S or U shape, known professionally as a “trap”. Your drains need to be shaped that way in order to allow a small amount of water to collect there, which prevents sewer gasses from rising through the drain pipes and into your home. Not only does it prevent nasty smells from coming up into your home, the gasses that come up can become too concentrated in an enclosed environment that it becomes hazardous to your health.
The trap is also typically the spot where oversized objects get caught – for better or for worse. Instead of getting caught far down in the pipe system, leading to an expensive repair, oversized objects get caught in the trap, which is an easy access point for a professional plumber to remove the object. Also, if you were to accidentally drop something valuable down the drain like your wedding ring, it most likely got caught in the trap. At the same time, it catches other large objects that you don’t want to retrieve, which is why we’ve provided some solutions for you for unclogging your drain.
Luckily for you, there are some methods you can try at home yourself before calling up your local plumber for help. Most likely, you won’t need to run off to the hardware store either to buy industrial strength drain cleaner. All you need is baking soda and white vinegar, which you may already have sitting around your home. Not only are these materials much cheaper, they aren’t nearly as harmful to the environment and less dangerous to keep around your kids.
To start, remove the drain cover and pour about a half a cup of baking soda down the drain. Then pour equal parts of the vinegar down the drain. Wait a few hours and then turn the water on hot. You can also try a solution of a half cup baking soda, a quarter cup of salt and then a cup of hot water.
Get a Sink Plunger
Most likely, your toilet plunger is too large to properly fit your sink or your shower tub. Invest in a simple sink plunger that will only cost you a few dollars. After trying the above methods, use the sink plunger to try and force whatever’s blocking your sink through. Unlike air, water is incompressible, so allow the sink or tub to fill up with water first until it is overflowing, and then try using the plunger.
Avoiding the Problem in the Future
Every drain in your home should have some form of cover that prevents large objects from going down the drain that shouldn’t. The trouble is that most people don’t use theirs because it is inconvenient cleaning the hair and other junk that they catch. While it may be inconvenient to clean them, they are what keeps your drains unclogged and can save your quite a bit of money in the long run.
If all else fails and you don’t know where the source of the problem is specifically or what to do to fix the clogged drain, it’s for the best to call a plumber. Not only can they diagnose your issue promptly, but they can provide repairs that involve minimal damage to anything surrounding the pipes or plumbing system.
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Mike Hall provides plumbing, energy conservation, and home improvement tips for home owners. Mike works with Blakeslee & Son, which provides drain cleaning services to those in Grand Rapids and Rockford, MI.