Clearing Drains

Clearing Drains with a Plunger

The plunger is a good drain-clearing tool but it often fails to work because it’s incorrectly used. Don’t make the typical mistake of pumping up and down two or three times, expecting the water to whoosh down the drain. Though no great expertise is needed to use this simple tool, here are a few tips to guide you:

  • Choose a plunger with a suction cup large enough to cover the drain opening completely.
  • Fill the clogged fixture with enough water to cover the plunger cup.
  • Coat the rim of the plunger cup with petroleum jelly to ensure a tight seal.
  • Block off all other outlets (the overflow, second drain in a double sink, adjacent fixtures) with wet rags.
  • Insert the plunger into the water at an angle so no air remains trapped under it.
  • Use 15 to 20 forceful strokes, holding the plunger upright and pumping vigorously.
  • Repeat the plunging two or three times before giving up.

Using Chemical Drain Cleaners

Though routine use of chemical drain cleaners to prevent clogs may eventually damage your pipes, these cleaners can be helpful in opening clogged drains. If water is draining somewhat, but plunging has failed to open the drain completely, you may want to try using a drain cleaner. First and foremost think Green. There are natural enzymes that will do the job. If you use chemicals, do so with caution and in a well-ventilated room. Be sure to take these precautions:

  • Never use a plunger if a chemical cleaner is present in the drain; you risk splashing caustic water on yourself.
  • Wear rubber gloves to prevent the chemical from burning your skin.
  • Don’t use a chemical cleaner if the blockage is total, especially if the fixture is filled with water. It won’t clear the blockage and you’ll face another problem-how to get rid of the caustic water.
  • Never use a chemical cleaner in a garbage disposal.
  • Read labels and match cleaners with clogs. Alkalis cut grease; acids dissolve soap and hair.
  • Remember Chemicals are a plumber’s best friend; chemicals will damage your pipes!

Whole House Clogged

Having one slow draining or stopped up fixture is bad enough. When your whole house won’t drain it is a real emergency! While you may not be equipped to fix the problem yourself, there are some things you can do save yourself some serious money if you have to call a plumber.

The first thing you need to know, if you don’t already, is whether you are connected to the public sewer system or have a septic tank. If you don’t already know this there are several ways to find out. Your water bill will usually have a sewer charge if you are connected. Ask your neighbors if they know, usually you’ll have whatever they do. Check your street for manholes, a sign of a sewer system.

Something else you should do before you have a problem is look around outside your home for a clean out. This is a pipe with a plug that can be unscrewed to access your sewer pipe. Clean outs are usually close to the house and may be buried in a flower bed. If you are connected to a sewer you probably have a clean out so poke around and find it.

If you know where your clean out is and your house is stopped up you can remove the cap and, if the blockage is in the yard, you can prevent your house being flooded with sewage. Just take a big pair of channel lock pliers and SLOWLY remove the clean out plug. If the line is full it might spray out of the cap as you unscrew the last few turns.

If you get the clean out cap off and the line is full of waste water that means that the blockage is downstream of the clean out. It also relieves some of the urgency of the situation as you can now usually use your plumbing sparingly and it will drain into your yard. While not great it’s better than in your house. At this point you will probably need to call Sacramento’s drain clearing expert, Crystal Blue Plumbing.

Clogged Toilet

Check for a blockage in the toilet trap or the drain itself. Remove blockage with a plunger or closet auger.

Sink Drains

It’s always best to prevent clogs before they happen. Be alert to the warning signs of a sluggish drain. It’s easier to open a drain that’s slowing down than one that’s stopped completely. Run or pour scalding water down the drain to break up grease buildups. If hot water doesn’t unclog the drain, there could be some object in the drain. To check, remove and thoroughly clean the sink pop-up stopper or strainer. Otherwise, the clog may be further down the drain and may require Sacramento’s drain clearing experts, Crystal Blue Plumbing.

Clogged Tub Drains

Before trying any drain-clearing methods on a plugged drain, check that the tub’s pop-up stopper is opening fully and is free of hair and debris. If the stopper isn’t the problem, then the drain pipe is probably clogged. Try a plunger. If this fails to do the job, you’ll have to clear the trap with a snake.

Preventing Kitchen Drain Clogs

No plumbing problem is more common or more frustrating than a clogged drain. Kitchen sink drains clog most often because of a buildup of grease that traps food particles. Drains can usually be cleared easily and inexpensively, but taking some simple precautions will help you avoid stop-ups. Proper disposal of kitchen waste will keep sink drain clogs to a minimum.

Don’t pour grease down the kitchen sink.

Don’t wash coffee grounds down the sink. Throw them out. Be sparing with chemical cleaners, particularly if you have brass, steel, or cast-iron traps and drainpipes; some caustic chemicals can corrode metal pipes.

Hair Clogs at Tub & Lavatory Sink Drains

The best way to clean hair from a bathtub drain is to remove the drain grate and take a coat hanger and put a little hook on the end and scoop out the hair. You could also use a pair of needle nose pliers. The easiest way to clean hair from a lavatory sink drain is to remove the pop-up drain assembly altogether and use the same technique as mentioned above.