Clogged drains are not only unsightly, but they can spread foul odors and harmful bacteria throughout your home. Regular drain cleaning can eliminate these problems and keep them from recurring in the future.
Avoid harsh chemical drain cleaners, which can cause chemical burns to the skin and irritate eyes and noses. Contact Plunger Plumber or try these natural and effective drain-cleaning methods:
Boiling water is often cited as an ideal way to clear drains. However, if you’re dealing with the typical drain clog culprits of hair, dirt, oil, and soap scum that accumulate in your pipes, boiling water is more likely to push these elements deeper into the pipe. Additionally, if your sink has a pop-up stopper or is made of PVC plastic, the hot water could melt or crack it.
The best solution for these types of clogs is to remove the stopper or pop-up, then reach into the drain with your fingers (latex gloves are recommended) and pull out any solids. If this doesn’t work, then it’s time to move on to the next step.
A few cups of boiling water can help loosen up any accumulated grease and soap scum that’s narrowing your drain opening. This simple, inexpensive method is perfect for kitchen drains that are often clogged with fats and oils that cool down and harden in the pipes.
If you’re worried about scalding your hands, you can always use a pot holder or other device to protect your hands while pouring the boiling water down the drain. The boiling water can also be used in combination with other methods to make sure that your drain is clean and free of clogs.
If you’ve tried a few simple solutions and are still dealing with a stubborn clog, then it may be time to bring out the big guns — heavy-duty chemical drain cleaners. Most grocery and hardware stores sell a variety of commercial chemical products that are designed to dissolve blockages in most drains. However, these chemicals can be extremely dangerous if not handled properly and should only be used when nothing else is working.
Baking Soda & Vinegar
Baking soda (or sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar are two kitchen staples that can be used to clean your drain. The combination creates a fizzing reaction that breaks down and dislodges gunk that has collected in your drain over time. It’s an easy, inexpensive, and environmentally friendly alternative to commercial corrosive drain cleaners.
To use baking soda and vinegar for drain cleaning, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda down your drain. Then pour in 2 cups of white vinegar. Allow the mixture to fizz for about five minutes. Once the bubbling has stopped, flush your sink with boiling water. The hot water will wash away any loosened gunk and dissolve any remaining clog. Repeat as needed until your drain is unclogged.
It’s important to note that baking soda and vinegar are not designed to break down serious or hard-to-reach clogs. This is because the chemical reaction created by the combination does not produce enough pressure to force a tough clog out of your pipe. The bubbles that form may help to loosen some of the grime in your drain, but they are not strong enough to remove a thick blockage of grease or hair.
However, the reaction can also produce a lot of carbon dioxide which is not good for your pipes. It can rob your pipes of their natural protective coating, which makes them more susceptible to damage and clogs. It’s best to only use this DIY drain cleaner as a last resort when you are unable to clear your clogged drain using other methods.
For most people, baking soda and vinegar is an effective drain cleaning solution. However, if your clog is particularly stubborn or difficult to treat, it’s best to contact a professional plumber for professional drain cleaning services. A professional will have the equipment necessary to handle even the most severe clogs without damaging your pipes. They will be able to identify the source of your clog and recommend the best course of action. They can also provide suggestions for preventative maintenance that will keep your drains running smoothly in the future.
Degreasers are powerful solvent cleaners that can cut through tough grease, oil, and grime. They are available in both water-based and strong chemical solutions and come in a variety of forms including liquid, aerosol sprays, and wipes. The best type of degreaser for your needs depends on the type of surface or equipment you are cleaning and the level of contamination that needs to be removed.
For example, if you are working with large machinery that produces heat or electrical sparks, then choosing a high flashpoint degreaser that can quickly evaporate to prevent flammability will be important. In addition, if you are working on an insulated surface such as an engine block or transmission, then using a nonflammable degreaser that is also capable of breaking down insulating materials will be critical.
If you are using a solvent-based degreaser, then it is important to follow the directions on the product carefully to minimize any health risks. Most solvents will produce toxic fumes that can irritate skin and eyes and may also cause other health issues if ingested or inhaled. Some will also pose a fire hazard and should never be used near open flames or sparks (e.g. from welding).
Water-based degreasers are safer and have a lower impact on the environment. They do not contain the harmful chemicals found in solvent-based products and are generally a better choice for use around food. Water-based cleaners are also effective in removing light gunk and oil stains, mildew, and food spills.
While some types of water-based degreasers are safe to pour down the drain, others should only be disposed of in a specific waste collection container or at a household hazardous waste collection center. Pouring a degreaser down the drain can pollute the surrounding environment, contaminating nearby waterways and wells.
In general, all types of degreasers should be used in a well-ventilated area and with gloves or protective eyewear. The label on the container should indicate whether a product is water-based or solvent-based. If the list of ingredients includes petroleum or mineral spirits then it is a solvent-based degreaser and should only be used in well-ventilated areas. Spent degreasers should be recovered into drip trays and stored in airtight containers.
A drain snake also called an auger, is a useful tool for getting to the bottom of a clogged pipe or tub. Unlike a plunger, it has a helix-shaped hook that fits down a drain. A hand crank moves the hook through a pipe, and the corkscrew end snags or breaks up clogs. Plumbing snakes can be purchased at most home improvement stores. Some types are designed specifically for bathroom sinks and others for tub or shower drains.
Before using a drain snake, make sure you are wearing protective clothing and safety glasses. If you have a caustic drain cleaner, flush the pipes with water first to prevent splashback.
Start by removing the cover on the drain. Then, remove the p-trap from the tub drain or unclog the trap arm on the sink. If you are snaking a shower drain, access the overflow drain instead of the floor drain.
Push the cable of the plumbing snake down the drain and crank it by hand. As it goes deeper into the pipe, if the sharp end of the snake encounters something that snags or breaks up, turn the handle to pull it back up. Repeat this step until the clog is removed.
If a clog is too large or stubborn, call a plumber. Drain snakes can only pick up and dislodge small objects like hair or food scraps; they cannot cut through obstructions that are solid or located too far down the pipes.
Once you have pulled out the drain snake, run water in the tub or sink to confirm it is fully clear. Also, remove the snagged items from the snake and dispose of them properly. Finally, wash the drain snake to remove bacteria-laden debris and hair that is contained in the spring and the drum. Also, don’t leave the snake wet or it will rust.