Let’s be honest: Trying to figure out how to unclog a drain is among the top five worst parts of adulting. Afterall, drain clogs can range from mildly annoying and a tiny bit gross to toss-your-cookies-level stinky and expensive to fix.
And far too often, the reason for this pesky household problem is hard to determine:
- Tree roots can wind their way into your sewer lines, creating blockages and cracks.
- Physical obstructions—garbage, toys, cooking grease, menstrual products, too much toilet paper—can clog your drains.
- Simple, typical wear-and-tear can also cause your debris difficulties.
No matter the cause, there are a lot of ways to fix your drain issues. Two of the most common are snaking and hydro jetting. We’ll talk about which one’s right for you, but first let’s figure out if you even need to go that far.
Clogged Drain? Try This First
As Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith River Valley & Southwest Missouri’s most trusted plumber, we like to strike a good balance of easy, effective, and—whenever possible—inexpensive. Before trying more drastic measures, there are a couple ways to DIY a clogged drain.
- Break out the plunger. Back to basics! Cover the drain with the cup of the plunger, and push down on the handle to force the air out. Then, without breaking the seal, plunge up and down quickly and with a good bit of force for about 20 seconds.
- Try a homemade drain cleaner. Chemical drain cleaners are a big no-no in plumbing, because they can corrode your pipes and lead to more expensive issues in the future. Try a natural fix instead, using one-part baking soda to one-part vinegar. Pour your mix down the drain and wait about 30 minutes. Next, pour hot water down the drain to flush out any broken-down debris. Finally, turn on the tap and let the water flow for about a minute to make sure you’ve cleared everything out.
- Remove and clean the p-trap. The p-trap is the curved piece of pipe beneath your sinks and toilets. Using your hands or an adjustable wrench, remove this piece of pipe and inspect it for clogs. If you find a clog and can remove it… problem solved!
Still Clogged? Time to Break Out the Snake
A snake, or drain auger, is a coiled spiral with a handle on the end. It works the opposite way of a plunger—pushing into the clog to drive it further down the drain, which slowly breaks up the debris. As the clog breaks down, some of it goes down the pipes, and the rest can be pulled out with the hooked end of the snake. Some snakes even fit as an attachment on an electric drill, which gives more power and force to hook onto and break up the clog.
While it’s pretty easy to snake your own drain, there is definitely a right way to do it. Following these steps can help you improve your chances of success.
- Get the right equipment. Make sure you have the right snake for the drain you’re trying to unclog. Not all snakes are created equal—a toilet auger is different than one for the kitchen sink.
- Protect yourself. Change into clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, get some old towels at the ready, and put on some gloves and safety goggles. You don’t want any of the clog getting into your eyes or all over your hands—especially if you’ve used chemical drain cleaner recently.
- Start snaking. Push the end of the snake into the drain, and turn the handle to help the auger sneak down toward the clog. Keep pushing until you feel resistance. You might have to apply some pressure to get around the twists and turns of your pipes.
- Attach to the clog. Rotate the snake against the clog to break it up, while also allowing the tip to entangle the object. If you don’t feel the snake breaking up the clog and decreasing the resistance, try pulling out the auger. It’ll probably bring the clog out with it!
- Remove the auger and check your work. Pull out the snake from the drain. Run hot water at full force for a few minutes to flush the pipes and make sure it’s really unclogged.
Breaking Up a Clog with a Hydro Jet
If none of your DIY attempts clear your clog, it’s time to call in the big (water) guns.
Hydro jetting uses a high-pressure hose to blast water into your pipes, cleaning every surface. Instead of just cleaning the bulk of a clog, hydro jetting can make your pipes look and function like new. Hydro jetting works for extreme blockages and is a longer-term solution to your clog problems than the drain snake.
Of course, hydro jetting is a job for Northwest Arkansas, Fort Smith & Southwest Missouri plumbing experts. Typically, professional plumbers will start with a snake, since most clogs are relatively minor. But hydro jetting may be the best option for clogs in multiple drains or severe clogs that continue to recur. Your plumber will use video inspection equipment to identify the source of the problem and the right tools for the job.
The Best Solution for Clogged Drains: Prevent Them
The best way to fix drain clogs is to avoid them all together! Don’t use your drains as a garbage can. Never put starchy or fibrous foods, fats or greases, eggshells, coffee grinds, or bones down your kitchen disposal. Keep huge toilet paper wads and menstrual products away from your toilet pipes. And clean your hair out of the shower drain on a regular basis.
Ready for some help?
No matter how massive your clog—or what it’s made of—we can handle it! Give us a call today.