Although clogged drains come in many flavors, I’m going to be talking specifically about the typical clogged kitchen, lavatory or tub drain. Should you do it yourself or should you call in a pro? Well, it depends!
If it’s a soft stoppage located in the fixture “P” trap a good old fashion plunger generally will get the job done. I like to have the water cover the top of my plunger to ensure I don’t allow any air to get sucked into the drain. Rather than push down I like to start in the down position and the pull up briskly to get the maximum suction.
Kitchen sinks are pretty straight forward but on lavatory sinks and bathtubs you have to remember to cover the overflow with a cloth or sponge or the water will just shoot back toward you when you start plunging away.
Again this method will often work when it’s a relatively soft clog in or near the fixture “P” trap. Contrary to what you may see on TV, I can tell you that over my 35 years in the business I can count on one hand how many clogs I’ve found in fixture traps.
For some reason, they always end up being 10 feet or farther downstream of the fixture in which case a plunger is not going to help. OK, so the next train of thought might be to go and try some of that popular drain cleaning stuff they advertise on TV. This sounds all fine and well but again unless the clog is in or close to the fixture trap you’re trying to clear, you’re just throwing your money down the drain.
For the record I’m not a big fan of throwing harsh chemicals into the plumbing systems, it’s dangerous for you and your plumber. If the clog is 10 feet or farther down the line, the drain cleaner will never reach it. Besides, if you look at the instructions on a majority of those drain cleaners, they’ll often say put one or two caps full down the drain and then run the water.
This is just going to dilute the cleaner further in addition to the water that’s already laying in the pipe. If the cause of the clog is grease or soap scum, I prefer using a biological bacteria type cleaner that activates once it’s mixed with water.The bacteria will eat all the organic matter on the pipe walls leaving it clean as a whistle. These products work best when the water is still flowing and the fixture is not completely clogged. They work incredibly well on grease and soap scum type stoppages.
Mechanical Drain Cleaning
Now if your stoppage is being caused by hair or perhaps a scale build-up from the inside of cast iron pipes, it may be time for some mechanical method of clearing the clog aka a SNAKE! Before I speak about snaking a drain, I want to mention that there are tools that utilize air pressure that you can use to clear clogs quite far down the line. But these are expensive tools generally best left to an experienced tradesman.
As a rule by the time I get the call to clear a drain, the homeowner has already worked on it and has surrendered. The first thing I’ll ask is if any drain cleaner has been tried in which the typical response is “NO”! It doesn’t take long for me to find out that in fact a huge amount of drain cleaner was used.
How can you tell you may ask? As I work my snake in and out of the drain it becomes incredibly clean and shiny, not to mention that slimy and burning feel to it as I retrieve back from the drain. If you’re going to use a chemical drain cleaner please be courteous.
For your safety and his, tell your plumber before he attempts to clear the clog. When I use my snake I like to introduce it through the fixture drain directly through the trap and into the drain line. What this does is allows me to run the water once I clear the clog thus flushing out the line thoroughly.
Some plumbers prefer to dismantle the drain pipes under a sink and then proceed to snake the line, but this makes no sense to me because there is no way to flush out the line or even tell if they cleared the line. I believe my method takes a little more skill, but the results are always superior.
SHOULD YOU SNAKE IT OR CALL A PRO?
You could buy an electric or hand snake which is readily available at most of the big box stores.They’re not professional grade tools by any means but you could get lucky and get the job done. You can also invest upwards of four hundred dollars in a professional Roto-Rooter drain cleaning machine and have a much better chance of success.
Personally, if it’s a soft stoppage close to the fixture in question, I say get a good quality plunger and go for it. On the other hand, if you’ve got a tough hair or scale type clog, it’ll be well worth while to call in a professional.They’re fully equipped to handle all types of stoppages and are certainly prepared if things go south. Do you really want to spend your weekend cleaning a clogged drain?
By the way, after I snake a drain line I always recommend introducing some bacterial drain maintenance to thoroughly clean the inside of the pipe. When bacteria based cleaners are used on a monthly basis, the need for future mechanical methods can be kept to a minimum.Hope you enjoyed this article and as always you can reach me at email@example.com.
Stay Well & Keep Out Of Trouble,