You can search the Internet for tips to clear a drain, but before you try bleach or the old baking soda-and-vinegar trick, call in an experienced plumber. “A lot of calls are just people who have tried stuff that doesn’t work,” said Shawn Gomez, owner of ASAP Appliance and Plumbing in Omaha, NE. “If it’s a four-hour job, do you want to spend all that time or pay a little extra and get it done?”
Here are some of the most common drain clogging culprits — and what Gomez recommends doing to clear them.
Grease from cooking
1. Grease from cooking should go into a container and be disposed of, Gomez said. “Once you pour it down the drain it cools off and congeals inside your pipes.”
2. Use a solution of baking soda and vinegar to clear the clog. “When you mix those two together, they produce carbon dioxide gas, which can dislodge everything from fats to tree roots,” Gomez said. “You can repeat it as many times as you need to.”
3. Call a professional if the clog remains after trying this method.
Fats, Oils, and Grease
1. Use a chemical drain opener such as Drainbo or Drano Max Buildup Remover. These products use enzymes to break down proteins, fats, and sugars.
2. Follow the package directions for applying the cleaner to the drain. “You can let it sit for 30 minutes or overnight — you don’t want to put this stuff on your skin,” Gomez said. Then follow with boiling water.
3. If this solution fails, call a professional plumber.
1. Use a drain hair catcher to catch excess hair, which can cause clogs once it’s washed down the drain into your pipes, Gomez said. You can buy one at most hardware stores or staple an old nylon stocking over the end of the drainpipe in your shower.
2. If you prefer not to use a nylon stocking, you can buy a drain cover from a plumber. “Some people don’t like the way it looks, but I tell them to think of all the money they’ll save on drain cleaners,” Gomez said.
3. Or resort to using a plunger — but be sure to protect your hand by wearing rubber gloves. “If you’ve got one of those balls with spikes on it, that’s even better,” Gomez said. Be sure to plunge gently and slowly, as too much pressure can break the pipes.
1. If your toilet is clogged, try using a closet auger — also known as an inside-the-toilet auger. It has a long, snake-like head that you can use to unclog the toilet.
2. “If it doesn’t come all the way down to where your blockage is, try pushing it forward and backward,” Gomez said, adding that this technique may be necessary even if your closet auger features an electric snakehead. “Some of the cheaper ones don’t reach as far.”
3. If your toilet is still clogged after using your closet auger, call a professional plumber.
1. A slow-draining shower is usually due to a buildup of hair and body soap scum, Gomez said. Use a plunger to unclog the drain, but be sure to protect your hand by wearing rubber gloves. “You may need to do this several times.”
2. If plunging doesn’t work, apply a chemical cleaner designed for use in your shower. (Follow the package directions carefully.) Gomez said you should try it before calling a plumber, although it may be time to call in a professional if your drain remains clogged.
3. If water isn’t draining from floor drains, don’t plunge it. “All you’re going to do is push the problem down deeper,” Gomez said. Instead, use a closet auger or plumber’s snake to remove the blockage.
4. If your shower drain is slow but not clogged, call a plumber to check the waste line — it may just need cleaning.
1. Cooking grease should be poured into an oil container and disposed of, Gomez said. “It cools off and congeals inside your pipes.”
2. If grease is no longer an issue, pour a little baking soda and vinegar down the drain. “When you mix those two together, they produce carbon dioxide gas which can dislodge everything from fats to tree roots,” Gomez said. “You can repeat it as many times as you need to.”
3. If this method fails, use a chemical drain opener.
4. If the above methods fail, call a professional plumber.
If you have any concerns about your drains, give us a call at 402-706-9931! We’ll get it sorted out for you without breaking the bank.