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10 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Troubleshooting Steps

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10 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Troubleshooting Steps

If you’re struggling to wash the dishes or your hands due to a clogged drain, you may be frustrated. Luckily, there are a variety of ways to locate and remove a blockage in your sewage pipes that are connected to your sink. To help you restore the flow of water in your kitchen or bathroom, we have compiled a list of 10 methods that can be utilized to unclog a drain. Prior to grabbing baking soda or a drain snake, put on a pair of gloves to protect your skin from the contaminants in your drain.

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How to Remove a Blockage From a Drain

From natural ways to store-bought tools, here are seven ways to get your drain unclogged and running smoothly again.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Chances are, you have these two common items floating around somewhere. Mix 1/3 cup of vinegar and 1/3 cup of baking soda, then pour the mixture into the clogged drain. Wait an hour, then flush it away. The fizzing reaction of these two ingredients helps remove grime and blockage.

Applying a Plunger

Although a plunger is designed to eliminate clogs in toilets, this intuitive tool can be used to remove food from your drain pipe. The most effective plungers are cup-style plungers. They are pretty inexpensive at your local hardware store. When you are unclogging a drain, make sure to plug the overflow opening of the sink. In addition, close the second drain near the clogged one in double-basin sinks. Cover the opening of the drain completely with the plunger and fill the sink with enough water to cover the toilet plunger. Using quick up-and-down motions, start plunging the sink, making sure the cup stays sealed onto the drain. Check to see if the sink is unclogged every six or so plunges and repeat the process until the water drains away.

10 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Troubleshooting StepsUsing a Plumbing Snake

A plumbing snake is a valuable tool for unclogging any drain. A drain snake can be purchased for $10 to $200, depending on the type. To work it, put the plumbing snake down the drain and the pipe. Once the drain snake is a few inches in the pipe, crank the handle and navigate it down the drain until you can feel the blockage. To fix the clogged sink, keep cranking the drain snake to make sure it is fastened to the object. Next, slowly pull the tool and object from the drain. If you can’t quite fasten the drain snake into the clog, you can keep twisting the tool until the blockage is dismantled and is flushed down the drain.

Tips & Suggestions: How to Flush a Hot Water Heater: Instructions & Steps

Removing and Cleaning the Drain Trap

If your sink is clogged and usual methods do not seem to be working, you might need to remove and clean the drain trap, also called the U-pipe. This pipe tends to get clogged easily, but cleaning it thoroughly every so often can help avoid this problem. To clean the drain trap, follow these five steps:

  1. Place an empty bucket under the drain trap to catch any grime or water that may fall out.
  2. Using a plumber’s wrench, loosen and remove the slip nuts at each end.
  3. Remove the pipe by flipping it over and then unclog the drain by emptying it into the bucket. Use a wire brush, toothbrush, or anything else you have on hand to clean the buildup inside the drain trap. Wear rubber gloves for extra protection.
  4. Clean around the connection points and make sure to run some hot water through the drain trap to get all the extra gunk out and ensure that it is clean.
  5. Re-assemble the drain trap by screwing the nuts tightly back on.

10 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Troubleshooting StepsBaking Soda and Salt

The baking soda and salt method is similar to the baking soda and vinegar version, but it is a little more effective. Mix a ½ cup of each substance together then pour it into the drain to fix the clogged sink. Wait fifteen minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain. Altogether, these three steps should unclog the stubborn blockage.

Wet & Dry Vacuum

Wet and dry vacuums work wonders when it comes to stubborn clogs. Set your vacuum to the highest liquid settings and let your vacuum do the rest of the work. The vacuum’s strong suction is typically strong enough to unclog the drain.

Hydro-Jetting Equipment

When a plumber hydro jets the drain, high water pressure is utilized to eliminate the blockage and unclog the drain. A hose will blast water into the drain at 1500 PSI to disassemble the object in the pipe. The immense pressure from the water not only moves the blockage but also cleans the pipe.

Tips & Suggestions: What Are the Signs of a Sewage Backup in Homes?

10 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Troubleshooting StepsUsing a Power Auger

Not everyone owns a power auger, but if you do, these machines can be a big help in unclogging drains. Put the power auger near the drain and put three feet of cable down it. Turn the auger on to a clockwise spinning motion and push it down until you feel resistance, then turn it to a counterclockwise spinning and pull it back up a little bit. Repeat this process until the drain becomes unclogged.

The 3 Tools Plumbers Use

If any home methods to unclogging a drain don’t work, it may be time to call a plumber. Here are the main tools plumbers use to unclog your drain.

10 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Troubleshooting StepsVideo Cameras

Video cameras do not clear blockage per se, but they help identify what is causing your drains to be backed up, whether it is debris and grease, or roots growing in the pipes. It is similar to a drain snake except there is a camera attached to it.

Electric Drain Snakes

Electric drain snakes work the same way as regular drain snakes, but they are powered by electricity for more strength for those tougher blockages.

Drain Cleaning & Plumbing Services

Do you have a blocked drain that just does not seem to budge? Our team of licensed plumbers is here to help! No matter what kind of drain you have, our technicians are trained to eliminate clogs. To receive help with a blockage in your drain, give our staff a call by phone at (703) 543-9649 to schedule an appointment. In addition, our team of plumbers offers plumbing services for damaged gas pipes, leaking water heaters, and ineffective sump pumps. Residents in Virginia trust our team of technicians because we offer intuitive pricing and innovative warranties.

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