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3 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Steps & Troubleshooting Methods

3 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Steps & Troubleshooting MethodsThere’s never a right moment for a clogged drain. In fact, it is not uncommon for clogged drains to occur when you are preparing dinner for guests, loading the dishwasher, or winding down the night with a relaxing shower. Whatever the case may be, clogged drains disrupt the comfort of your home and can be absolutely frustrating, expensive, time-consuming, and don’t forget smelly. A deposit of gunk resurfacing causes an unpleasant experience for everyone. 

Clogged drains may lead to or be the result of a bigger problem in your water or sewer pipes. Large clogs in the main water lines that are operated by your local neighborhood may cause backups to form in your home. On the other hand, clogged drains within your home may apply excess strain on your municipal drain and sewer system. One simple clogged drain can damage your property and put your family at risk. To help you restore the flow of water in your bathroom or kitchen, we have compiled a list of ways to unclog a drain in your house.

How to Eliminate a Blockage in Your Drain

3 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Steps & Troubleshooting MethodsUse a Plunger

You may be familiar with the inconvenience of a clogged shower drain. Once you start to enjoy the warm water, the floor of your shower or bathtub will become covered in dirty water. Ordinary sources of clogged shower drains include hair, soap residue, and grease. The first step to unclogging a drain in your shower or kitchen is to grab a plunger. Next, use a paper towel or rag to block the overflow valve in your sink. This will prevent from entering the clogged sewer pipe that is connected to your sink.

You will need to turn your sink on to fill it with an inch of water. The water will help create a secure connection between the plunger and drain. Once the sink in your kitchen or bathroom is filled with water, insert the plunger into the water. The plunger should be placed directly over the drain to create a strong connection. Next, use your hands to carefully move the plunger up and down. This will increase the pressure and remove the object from your sewer pipe. To confirm if the clog is eliminated, lift the plunger from the surface of the sink. If the water is flushed down the drain, you have successfully removed the food or materials from the drainage pipe. Are you having trouble restoring the flow of water? Insert the plunger directly over the drain again and move it in an up and down motion. Repeat this process until the materials have been removed from your sink.

3 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Steps & Troubleshooting MethodsInsert a Drain Snake

A drain snake is a long flexible cable that is designed to fit in your drain pipes. The cable features a slightly smaller diameter when compared to the sewer pipes that are connected to your sink. To unclog a drain in your basement or kitchen, insert the snake a couple of inches into drain. Next, rotate the handle on the drain snake to move the auger head through the sewer pipe. The handle may become hard to move as the cable starts to navigate through small corners in your pipes. Once the auger heat becomes stuck in the pipe, this is a sign you have reached the blockage in your drain.

When you have located the materials in your drain, continue to turn the handle of the drain snake. This will disassemble the object in your sewer pipe. Once the handle becomes easier to rotate, this is an indicator that the clog has been removed. Next, pull the flexible cable out of your drain and place the excess food and materials in a bucket. Run hot water for 1 to 2 minutes to confirm the clog has been fixed.

3 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Steps & Troubleshooting MethodsDisassemble the Drain Trap

A standard sink is integrated with a u-shaped pipe that is called a drain trap. This pipe is designed to hold a small amount of water in your sink to prevent the escape of sewage odors in your house. While the drain trap is a helpful tool to prevent the spread of odors, it is not abnormal for it to become clogged with food, minerals, oil, meat, or fat. A simple way to unclog a drain in your house is to remove and clean the drain trap. To prevent water damage to your cabinets, place a large bucket underneath your sink prior to removing the drain trap.

Next, apply a wrench to the pipe to carefully remove the nuts. Once the nuts are detached, use your hands to disconnect the drain trap from the other pipes. Shake the u-shaped pipe directly over the bucket to loosen food scraps and objects. Use a miniature brush or your fingers to remove small to large materials from the drain trap. Remember to wear gloves prior to disassembling the drain trap to prevent the spread of bacteria. Turn your sink on to run warm water through the pipe to eliminate additional contaminants. Once the drain trap is clean, use your wrench to connect it to the drain pipes beneath your sink. When the pipes are configured, activate your sink to confirm if the clog has been fixed.

Ways to Prevent Clogged Drains

Use Cold Water to Flush Objects Down the Garbage Disposal

There are a wide variety of causes behind clogged drains and they all primarily have to do with the substances that go down them. We spend moments throughout the day hovering over our sinks, using our bathrooms and showering. As a result, countless materials travel down our drains that cause buildup over time such as hair, oil, grease, certain food particles, paper products, and more.

To prevent clogged drains, use cold water instead of hot water when using your garbage disposal. Cold water maintains the form of grease and oil so that the garbage disposal can properly break it up. On the other hand, hot water melts and manipulates these substances, allowing them to stick to your drain pipes and cause buildup.

3 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Steps & Troubleshooting MethodsBrush Your Hair Prior to Taking a Shower

Other measures include brushing your hair immediately before taking a bath or shower to reduce the amount of loose hair running down the drain. It is not uncommon for long hair to become trapped in your sewer pipes after they are flushed. Excess grease and oil in your pipes will cause long pieces of hair to become stuck on the interior pipe walls. If the excess hair is not removed with a drain snake or a plunger, it will continue to collect and cause a clog in your shower or sink.

Wash Your Dog Outside

Depending on the type of dog you have, it may shed its hair. When the weather is warm, wash your dog outside to keep your drains clear from excess hair. Also, teach children in your home the importance of maintaining your drain system. The best way to prevent clogged drains is to be cognizant of what you’re putting in them. 

Things to Keep Out of Your Drains

Grease, Fats, or Cooking Oils

Vegetable oils, butter, lard, and dairy products can cause clogged drains by enabling other items to get stuck in the drain pipes as well. 

3 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Steps & Troubleshooting MethodsCoffee Grounds

When making your morning coffee, never put coffee grounds in your sewer because this substance works to clog your drain in the same way as grease, fats, and cooking oils.  

Pasta, Rice, and Bread

To prevent clogged drains when you are washing dishes, do not flush pasta, rice, or bread down the garbage disposal. These items will absorb water and start to expand in your sewer pipes.

Meat, Bones, and Eggs Shells

Garbage disposals aren’t meant to grind bones or eggshells, and meats cluster together with other items to clog the drain. 

3 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Steps & Troubleshooting MethodsPotatoes Peels, Celery, and Carrots

Fibrous substances should be avoided when using the garbage disposal. These vegetable tissues make it hard for your garbage disposal to properly break it up. 

Hair

Human hair, pet hair, doll hair, stuffed animal hairs, etc.—hair of all kinds can lead to a clogged drain in no time. 

Paper Products

Be wary of putting baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, napkins, cotton balls, and other paper products down the drain. Although these items are known to be flushable, they can cause clogged drains because the objects take a long amount of time to disintegrate in your pipes.

Prescription Medications, Lotions, and Miscellaneous Objects

Avoid putting medications, lotions, band-aids, dental floss, cosmetics, razors, blades, rubber or latex materials, and other like-minded material down the drain. Not only does this cause blockage in your drain, but it also can be toxic to wildlife and seep into your drinking water.   

Toys

Although a given, toys are commonly the main offender behind toilet clogs. Make sure to discuss with your children what is and isn’t appropriate to flush down the toilet. 

Soaps

This may surprise you, but various soaps can clog drains faster than expected. This is largely due to the residue that builds up and causes other items to stick with it. Regulate the amount of shampoo, toothpaste, and other soaps down the drain to reduce the possibility of clogs.   

3 Ways to Unclog a Drain: Steps & Troubleshooting MethodsWhat to Do When Your Drain Clogs 

Ultimately, the best way to prevent clogged drains that result in costly repairs is by scheduling routine cleaning maintenance with a licensed plumber. This ensures your drain withstands whatever goes inside it. Clogged drains can result in much bigger issues if not tended to properly. 

The experts at ServiceMark are here to help keep your drains clog-free and running smoothly. We offer plumbing services such as drain cleaning, water heater repair, and water line replacement. Don’t let clogged drains disrupt the routine in your home. Call our team of plumbers by phone at (302) 367-7915 for routine maintenance or drain clearing and we’ll promise you a 1-year clog-free guarantee. If that same drain ever clogs up again within 1 full year—no matter the reason—we’ll come back and unclog it again for free! 

ServiceMark has been your trusted expert for quality maintenance and drain clearing services since 1951. Our experienced plumbers receive more than 100 hours of technical training each year and can be counted for knowledgable, reliable plumbing service. With 24-hour service, seven days a week, and no emergency fees, we’re here when you need us the most.

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