Taking a shower in a tub that doesn’t drain well or isn’t draining at all is unpleasant. Soap scum, hair, and debris clog up the pipes and seep into the water at your feet.
No one wants to stand in backed-up drain soup. Sink drains can back up the same way, except they offer food debris instead of dead skin and hair.
Whatever version of a drain clog you’re experiencing, it’s time for a drain clearing. If the problem is new and small, you don’t have to call in the big guns yet. There are a few drain clearing methods you can try at home. Read on to learn what they are!
Why Do Drains Clog?
Drains clog for a variety of reasons. The debris that blocks them depends on their location, the habits of people using the drain, and how often it’s pre-emptively cleared out. Most of the time, people don’t do a drain clearing until they notice a problem. That’s mistake number one.
The debris that blocks them depends on their location, the habits of people using the drain, and how often it’s pre-emptively cleared out. Most of the time, people don’t do a drain clearing until they notice a problem. That’s mistake number one.
Drains should be cleared every few months to keep them in clean, working order.
How to Prevent Clogs
Most clogs requiring a drain clearing are preventable. To stop any gross blocks from forming, make sure there’s always a strainer over the drain. When the strainer has debris (hair or food), clear it and throws the debris in the trash — not down the drain.
If you have a sink with a disposal, always let the cold water run while you’re using it. The water helps distribute debris and makes sure it ends up as handle-able chunks. After the disposal is done running, let cold water flow for a minute. This final flush gets rid of any lingering debris and gives the food one last push down the drain.
Drain Clearing Tips
Chemical drain clearing products are intense chemicals and should be handled by a professional as a last resort. The chemicals that break down debris can harm your pipes, your family, and the surrounding environment. Make sure you only use them when necessary.
Read about safer options to try first below.
Remember in the third grade when making a baking soda and vinegar volcano was all the rage? That same science works to clear your pipes. The small particles in baking soda can get deep into the pipes and into clogs where other products can’t.
To clean your pipes with this method you’ll need:
- white vinegar
- rubber gloves
- 1 cup of baking soda
- boiling water
Start out by removing the drain cover or plug, so there’s nothing the product needs to work around. Then, pick off whatever hair or debris from the top of the drain you can see. When the pipe looks clear, measure out a cup of baking soda. Pour the soda down the drain, going slowly to avoid the soda clumping.
Once the baking soda is in place, wash it down with 1 cup of pure, white vinegar. You should hear the fizzing cleaning effects immediately. Let the mixture sit in your pipes for 10-15 minutes.
Once it’s sat for a while, boil a pot or kettle of water. Carefully pour the boiling water down the drain, flushing out whatever the previous chemical reaction loosened up.
Some people prefer to add a cup of iodized salt to this mix, for its light abrasive properties. If you want to give the salty version a try, mix equal parts salt and baking soda and follow the exact steps as above.
Once the drain stops steaming, run hot water into it to help clear anything remaining. If you’re happy with the way the tub/shower is draining, replace the plug and you’re done!
Didn’t work? Learn a more intense solution below.
There’s a snake in my drain! Drain snakes are long pieces of plastic with barb hooks cut into them. They’re designed to clear hair-caused clogs and you can buy them at any superstore. Using a drain snake is simple, read how much so below.
To use a drain snake, all you need is the snake, some old rags, and cleaning gloves. Before you start with the snake, take the grill or plug out. Grab whatever small debris you see at the opening and pull out as much as you can. Once the entrance to the pipe is clean, insert the snake all the way to its handle.
Push the snake down the drain firmly and in feeding motion. When the handle is flush with the opening, wiggle the snake around gently. With the snake all the way in the pipe, pull up on the handle slowly, using one hand on the floor/wall of the tub for stability.
Once the snake is fully out, remove the debris it gathered from the spikes. Using a rag or paper towel, pull the debris in the opposite direction of the spikes. It should come right off. Dispose of the debris, and insert the snake again. You can repeat this process until you’re satisfied, but 2-3 times is enough to make a difference.
After the last snake pull, replace the tub plunger or cover and pour hot water down the drain. It will help loosen anything the snake moved but didn’t get a grip on. Turn on the water and check that your drain is working better than it was. Sometimes the difference will be extreme, while other times not.
If it’s less than impressive, you may have a clogged pipe system that needs professional cleaning.
Call in the Experts
If you aren’t having any luck with the above drain clearing tips, stop trying and call a plumber. Let them know the problem you’re having, what you did to fix it, and what is happening now. They’ll be able to assess the problem and suggest or perform solutions.
If you’re having trouble finding a reputable plumber in your area, look no further. Our website lets you easily submit a claim and our employees will match you with a plumber and their personalized quote. What are you waiting for? Get your drain clearing done today!