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How to Fix a Clogged Drain 

yellow gloved hands using a drain snake

Drain clogs are bound to crop up at some point or another in your home. Luckily, this is a fairly easy plumbing issue to deal with. If you don’t mind rolling your sleeves up and getting a little dirty, you can fix a clogged drain without calling on a professional. Here are our best tips and tricks on how to unclog a sink drain all on your own.  

What Tools Should I Have on Hand?

  • Gloves
  • Snake 
  • Plunger 
  • Hot water 
  • Baking soda 
  • Distilled white vinegar 
  • Bucket 
  • Rags or paper towels
  • Wrench 
  • Flashlight 

Don’t Use Drano to Unclog a Drain

Did you notice that we didn’t include Drano on our list of tools to unclog your sink? Despite how commonplace this solution is on our store shelves and under our bathroom sinks, plumbing experts agree it is not a good tool to reach toward when it comes to clogged drains. It can actually cause more harm than good. 

The chemicals in Drano are caustic meaning they are designed to disintegrate organic matter stuck in your drains. But the heat it creates in the process can erode old piping or eat away at the glue holding pipes together. 

It can also stay in the pipes long after application so it could potentially react with other chemicals that go down the drain or harm the next person to disassemble the plumbing if it comes into contact with their skin. 

5 Methods to Fix a Clogged Drain

Try these steps to unclog your drain. Start with our first option and move on to the next method if it doesn’t work. 

1. Clear Visible Clogs 

Before reaching for tools and taking your pipes apart, check the drain for visible clogs. Look inside the drain trap and remove any obstructions. You are likely going to find hair and a slimy, dark residue. Don’t be alarmed if you pull up this gunk in your drain. It’s a naturally occurring bacterial build-up that grows dues to dead skin cells, soap scum, toothpaste residue, shaving cream, and bacteria in your pipes. If you notice an excessive amount of this sludge or your drain is still slow, move on to our next strategy. 

2. Use the Baking Soda and Vinegar Method

The next best step you should take to try cleaning your drains is to use the baking soda and vinegar method. First, pour about a cup of baking soda down the drain and follow that with a cup of distilled white vinegar. Give it about 10 minutes to clear the drain. Next, pour about a cup of boiling water into the drain to melt away any remaining bacterial buildup. If your drain is still clogged, your next course of action is to try plunging it. 

3. Try Plunging Out the Clog 

If a clog is particularly stubborn, it may need a little more assistance making its way through your drains. A plunger can help you loosen a clog further down your pipes. First, fill your sink with about 2-3 inches of water. Now create a good seal between the drain and the plunger. Pump the plunger until you feel it give way. 

4. Snake Out the Clog 

If your trusty plunger didn’t do the trick, reach for a drain snake. This mechanism is designed to run deep into your drain to dislodge blocks. There are a variety of options to choose from including simple plastic snakes and more robust electric snakes. Either way, feed the tip of the tool into the drain and move it around to break up or pull up the clog.  

5. Take the P-Trap Apart 

If all else fails, your last DIY option is to take apart the p-trap. Now, this option is not for the faint of heart so don’t be afraid to call on your trusted plumber to do the dirty work. If you do choose to do it yourself, place a bucket under the p-trap and unfasten it from the drain. Clear out any obstructions. Soak it in hot water with dish soap if it’s especially grimy. Once it’s nice and clean, reattach it.  

Need More Help With Your Clogged Drain? 

Some clogs may point to more significant underlying problems in your plumbing. If you can’t remedy the situation on your own, there might be a major clog further down the piping or even an issue with your septic system. If you can’t clear the drain yourself, call the professionals for help. 

If you’re in or around the Central Pennsylvania area, you can count on the team at WM Buffinton to help you with any of your plumbing, heating, and cooling needs! Get in touch with any questions you have today. 

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