How To Unclog a Drain - Lee Company Plumbing

A clogged drain is perhaps the most common plumbing problem. However, the causes are numerous, and many slow-moving drain systems are the result of a continuous buildup of sediment and other materials. Preventative maintenance is key to lowering the frequency of having problems with clogged drains.

In this article, you’ll learn about how to prevent clogged drains and what to do if a drain stops up, regardless of your attempts to prevent this common problem. A slow drain may look like a simple problem to fix, but if quick action isn’t taken, the problem can rapidly escalate. Cleaning a clogged drain usually isn’t difficult, but using the wrong products or performing the procedure incorrectly can actually lead to an even bigger problem.


How To Unclog A Drain

You use your kitchen and bathroom sinks often, so if the drainage begins to slow, you’ll likely notice right away. If the drainage is slowing more and more, it’s likely the result of something inhibiting water flow. Hair strands can form a ball near the drain elbow, and this, in turn, traps grease, small dirt particles, and food particles that don’t easily dissolve.

If the sink or bathroom drain has a removable cover, check to see if the clog is attached to the metal itself. Often, you can simply use a pair of tweezers or something similar to reach down into the drain opening and remove the gunk. If you can actually remove the tub drain cover, do so and see if the clog is visible. If it is, you can remove it with your fingers.

However, if there’s no way to observe the clog directly, it means that whatever is stopping or slowing the water flow is located further down the pipe. Before deciding to remove sink drain pipe sections, there are a few operations you’ll want to consider first.

Unclogging a drain using hot water is the best first procedure. Before pouring hot water down the drain, try pouring in a half-cup of baking soda and then a cup of white vinegar. Use a drain plug to stop up the drain. This allows pressure to build. After about 20 minutes, pour in a gallon of boiling water. This will often dissolve the clog and open up the drain line.

You may have to use a plunger if the drain seems to open up a bit but not completely. If this procedure doesn’t solve the problem, move on to the next step described below.


Advanced Plunger Method

Your sink isn’t exactly a closed system. It has a “P” shaped water trap underneath, and this stays filled with water to prevent odors from getting into the room. However, your sinks are all connected via a series of pipes. If your clog isn’t removed using the step described above, try the advanced plunger technique.

If you have double kitchen sinks and one of them is clogged, plug the other one with a wet cloth. Also, plug the bathroom sinks. Now the system is more airtight and watertight. Put some petroleum jelly around the rim of the plunger. Insert the plunger rim inside the drain opening, and pump rapidly up and down. The sealed system will force the water to move up and down the drain lines. In most cases, this will remove lodged objects.


Stubborn Clogs

The best way to unclog a drain is with a plumber’s snake. If the above-mentioned procedures don’t work, it’s likely that the clog is located further down the drainpipe. You can purchase a hand-operated, non-motorized drain snake for under $15.

The twisting action of the snake causes its tip to wrap around and catch the edge of most clogs. The snake is made of steel wires that easily bend around curves in the drainpipe.  

If all else fails, you can fix a slow drain using chemical products. Unclogging a drain using chemical drain openers isn’t always the safest procedure, however. Make sure you read the instruction carefully. Some of these drain openers are not recommended for steel pipes, copper pipes, or PVC pipes. Cleaning a clogged drain with liquid or crystal particle chemicals should be performed with precaution. This includes the wearing of rubber gloves and eye goggles. If the chemical product doesn’t resolve the problem, it’s time to call in a professional plumber.


Professional Plumbing Services

Lee Company specializes in providing service for residential plumbing and commercial plumbing customers. We use the latest detection and clog removal techniques. In some cases, it may be necessary to run a camera line down the drain to observe the clog directly. It may also be necessary to use high water pressure to unclog the drain.  

These are procedures you don’t want to perform yourself. It takes an experienced plumber to know just which type of procedure to perform. The wrong procedure can result in a cracked drain line or a weakening of plumbing line gaskets. Lee Company knows exactly which procedure to perform once a thorough inspection of your plumbing problem has been completed.

The procedures described above are the best way to unclog a drain, but they aren’t always successful. Still, it’s best to know how to unclog a drain yourself. This might save you money in the long run and reduce the number of times you need outside help. Remember to use the baking soda and vinegar trick periodically to keep your drains free of clogs, and plunge your system every month or so for preventative maintenance.  

If you still experience a clog you can’t remove yourself, Lee Company is standing by to help. Get in touch for expert drain opening service or other types of plumbing system repair.