The weekend is here with chirping birds and bright sun. Nothing can stop you from enjoying the day... until you notice the sink water isn't draining.
You grab the plunger, give it a few gos, but still the clog remains. Luckily, you keep a drain snake under the sink. After trying to locate the clog, the problem remains unchanged. As your frustration continues, you've exhausted all options -- or have you?
Before calling a plumber, try these techniques to relieve the plumbing problem:
- Clog Comprehension
- Plunger Practice
- Chemical Clearing
- Toilet Removal
By understanding these strategies, you may be able to avoid overpaying for a professional while solving the plumbing problem.
Before attacking a stubborn drain, it's important to reflect on what's most likely causing the blockage to occur. Different types of material require different tools to most effectively remove the clog.
For example, if you notice the drain backup has occurred in the shower, hair build-up is probaby the culprit. In this situation, a snake (commonly referred to as a “Zip It”) is most valuable because it's infused with tiny barbs. Even if the original snake didn't work, this version could yield better results.
It's also important to understand the size of the drain. If the drain is 15 feet long, a shorter drain snake may be ineffective. With drains, it's difficult to know where exactly the buildup is, so a good rule of thumb is to use a snake that's longer than the drain. You should also use a snake that has a relatively sharp corkscrew end to power through the blockage.
Plunger work isn't always as easy as it seems. Subtle best practices can be the difference between success and failure for unclogging your drain.
- Use the right kind of plunger. A plunger with an extension flange is best for toilets. This round extension provides a seal over the toilet hole.
For sinks, bathtubs, and showers, use a cup plunger. This plunger is flat on the bottom. In whichever case, the rubber end of the plunger shouldn't
have any slits, cuts, or openings.
- Adjust the water level before plunging. If too much excess water is around the appliance, you'll simply make a bigger mess. However, water is necessary for creating that vacuum seal, so ensure that the water level is high enough to submerge the cup on the plunger.
- Remove all of the air in the plunger cup. Air in the plunger cup causes a collapsing effect and doesn't help suction. Reduce this effect by ensuring that the plunger cup is filled with water. This will make it impossible for air to get trapped in the cap.
It's also important to ensure that the seal around the cap is tight. Any air leaking underneath the cap greatly reduces suction power.
- Plunge. As easy as it may be to take out the frustration of this process on the plunger, a correct plunging method is the most important step. When going to plunge, use vertical movements for the greatest possible suction. A tilt-in movement may also cause a slip in the plunger seal, which would remove all power.
Note: Never use chemical treatment before attempting to plunge. Plunging after the use of chemicals could result in chemicals getting onto your skin or in your eyes.
Chemical treatment can be useful for breaking up certain types of backups like food and grease. However, chemical treatments can vary depending on the type of clog. Whenever using chemical cleaners, read the instructions carefully and fully.
Since chemical cleaning is dangerous, some home remedies are recommended to get the same effect without the risk. Use boiling water or baking soda and vinegar.
Before taking your bathroom apart, see if the sink and tub are also backed up. If everything is clogged, it may be a blockage in the waste line.
If this is the case, turn off the water to avoid home flooding. When looking at your toilet, you'll notice that it's held in by two bolts on the bottom side of the trim caps. Remove these bolts.
Once the bolts are removed, lift the toilet and place it gently to the side. Roughhousing with the toilet can cause a break in the seal or extensive damage to the exterior.
At this point, the waste drain should be exposed. Clean the sealing ring and inspect your drain. If the clog isn't visible, try using the snake again to find it.
If you go through these measures and are still left searching for the blockage, it's time to call a plumber. As humbling as it may be, sometimes drains get the best of us.
Calling a professional to solve the plumbing problem reduces the risk of causing further damage to your bathroom, but if you want to give the do-it-yourself route a go, download our Plumbing Maintenance Checklist: