Most of us have encountered a clogged drain. Any sink, tub, or floor drain can get stopped up, but this is usually no cause for alarm. Many clogs can be cleared in some clever ways. We’ll now explain some methods to unclog a drain before your rush to call a plumber.
6 Unconventional Ways to Unclog a Drain
1. Sink Plunger
A sink plunger is smaller than a toilet plunger and has a cup-shaped end. To use one, place it over the drain and run the water until the cup is submerged. Then you can plunge up and down quickly, which will force air into the drain. If the clog has been dislodged, the sink will begin to drain as normal.
2. Drain Auger
A drain snake, available at home improvement stores, is designed to extend into the pipe to dislodge material. Augers are available in lengths as little as three feet, but some can go as long as 25 feet. A spiral catch at the end grabs onto or pushes away the clog.
To use a snake, remove the stopper from the drain, insert the tip, and crank the handle to extend the cable. If you encounter resistance, you’ve reached the clog. Continue cranking, and wiggle the auger gently from side to side, to break through. When the snake becomes easier to move, you can remove it and whatever it has grabbed on to. You can now flush the drain by running hot water.
3. Clean the Sink Stopper
For this, you may not need any tools. Every sink has a raised metal part over the drain. This stopper covers the drain and has a metal extension that reaches a couple of inches into the pipe. It can catch soap, hair, and other materials that slow the drain.
Most newer stoppers can simply be unscrewed. If you have an older one that’s tethered, remove it by looking underneath the sink for a small rod that’s attached to the pipe with a nut and clip. Turn the nut, using pliers if necessary, and squeeze the clip. The rod should release, allowing you to lift the stopper out.
With the stopper in hand, use a paper towel or rag to clean off any hair or slimy residue.
4. Vinegar and Baking Soda
Here is a safe and simple process for clearing any residue. First, boil a pot of hot water and then pour it down the drain. Next, add ¼ cup of baking soda before pouring a cup of white vinegar down. Using a rag, block the drain to hold in the mixture so it can break down the clog. It will cause a chemical reaction and bubble up. After 15 minutes, pour more boiling water down the drain and run the hot water tap. Any melted sludge should be flushed out.
There are some cautions to take with this method. If water is too hot, it can damage your plumbing, so keep it under 140℉. Boiling water can shrink or distort plastic pipe, and may damage China fixtures. Also, baking soda is a salt, so it can damage cast iron pipe. If you’ve previously used a chemical drain cleaner, baking soda and boiling water can cause a reaction and chemicals to splash.
5. Hair Clog Removal Tool
This simple device operates on the principle of manually lifting out debris. Typically made of flexible plastic, it has a long stem—on one end, there’s a handle; on the other, small barbs are present for catching debris. To use this tool, remove the stopper, insert the stem into the drain, and wiggle it around. Lift it out to wipe off any material and repeat several times until no hair, paper, or other blockages can be pulled up.
6. Disassemble the Sink Pipe
A bit more work is required for this approach, and it’s not something most people think of. A sink has a P-trap, or U-shaped bend in the pipe that holds a small amount of water, preventing sewer gas from backing up. However, it is also prone to catching items that are accidentally dropped down the drain.
Clearing a P-trap isn’t that complicated. First, turn off the water supply to the sink, remove anything stored underneath, and place a bucket under the pipe. If slip nuts are holding the P-trap in place, twist them counterclockwise (with a wrench or your fingers) to loosen them. Now you can remove the section of pipe.
Wearing gloves, push out any blockages with a stiff brush or unbent coat hanger. Once the pipe is clear, you can reattach it and tighten the slip nuts. Turn the water back on and you’re ready to go.
Having Trouble Unclogging a Drain? Contact Black Hills Home Services
If you can unclog a drain successfully, there’s usually nothing more you need to do. But if the problem happens repeatedly, there may be a deeper issue in your plumbing. At Black Hills Home Services, our trained plumbing technicians fix clogged drains and pipes for customers across the Olympia area. We’re available 24/7 in case there’s an emergency. For prompt service, submit your request online or call 888-979-7946.