We have all been there, as the drains in the shower and sink get blocked all the time. We never care what all liquids get flushed down the sink or how many hair strands get stuck in the shower drain until we see that they have clogged the drain. Time-to-time cleaning and clearing of drains is required so that they do not accumulate the barring agents over time to finally block one day. The problem of drains congesting can be more severe than you think, and ignoring what goes in your drain may lead to obstruction in the path of water through the drain. And, as you may already be aware, stagnant water invites the growth of mosquitoes which carry diseases that can make you and your family very ill. The diseases like yellow river fever, dengue and malaria are some common ones that can spread as quick as fire if mosquitoes get proper conditions (here accumulated water) to breed. So, how to fix a clogged drain at home?
The common culprits of drainage obstruction in kitchen sinks are either fat, oil, or grease from the food that we eat, or large food particles that get thrown in by accident. Whereas, the usual guilty-party causing obstruction in bathroom drains are hair that we lose while bathing or the soap and scum that goes down the drain all the time.
There are some practices that you can swear by if you want to clear a clogged drain. These practices are simple and helpful as they will make sure you never face this problem in the future. Below are the practices:
- Wipe the grease/oil from the pots and plates with a paper towel before you place them in the sink for washing.
- Pour hot, soapy water down the drains from time-to-time to remove any accumulated fat, oil, or grease.
- Avoid dumping any food particles in the sink, clean the food off the plate in the dustbin, and only then place the plate in the sink.
- Use a waste basket to dispose off hair, cotton swabs, plastics, cigarette butts, personal products, and other trash to prevent the shower drain clogged with hair and other solid materials.
- Soap buildup can clog the drain pipes and can become so severe at times that it corrodes the pipes. You can prevent this from happening by pouring some hot water in the shower/tub drain after you shower.
- Use a drain sieve or filter on all the drains in your house so you can at least collect all the solid matter that might get stuck in the drains (3).
You may experience a clogged drain one time or the other because of any of the reasons explained and may ignore these reasons until it is blocked. This can happen due to ignorance or lack of knowledge regarding clogging of drains. So, if one of the drains in your house is jammed, you may think that it is one of those house repairs that can not be performed by you and requires help from a plumber who is experienced in resolving such issues. While a plumber will definitely solve the problem, there are some ways that you can try and use to unblock those drains, so you can get back to using the sink, shower or the toilet. These methods are inexpensive and very easy to perform without any expertise. You have to try these home remedies for clogged drains because it will give you a chance of saving on plumbing expenses as a plumber will charge at least $100 just to come in and check what is wrong. And the best thing, you have nothing to lose. Even if you are unable to unclog the drains, you can call the plumber any time for help.
How To Clean A Clogged Drain?
1) Washing Soda
This method should only be used to unclog the kitchen drain because they usually get clogged due to oil or grease accumulation. This makes a very useful drain clog remover to clear a clogged sink drain. In a container, take 3 gallons of hot water and dissolve 1 pound of washing soda (sodium bicarbonate) in it. Pour this mixture down the drain and wait for an hour for it to work. Do not pour anything down the drain in this time, as it will hinder the cleaning process (4).
You have to be careful while performing this activity because hot water can cause severe burns. To avoid this, you must use a metal container with a wooden or plastic handle to provide proper insulation to your hands. Hold the container over the drain, and pour the mixture slowly and right into the drain so that none of the hot water falls out (5).
A simple plunger has a rubber suction cup attached to a stick which is usually made of wood, but there are new electric plungers available in the market now which work like a vacuum cleaner. The suction cup works better in these type of plungers. The basic function of a plunger is to apply pressure when you push it on the drain and then suction when you pull it back. This sucks out any large objects which may be obstructing the drain. Make sure you use a thick layer of petroleum jelly on the edge of the rubber suction cup so that it doesn’t let any air to pass through. Place the plunger over the drain opening and pump to remove anything from the drain and release the blocked water. After you are done with unblocking the water flow, pour some hot soapy water down the drain to clean the drainage pipe from the inside (6).
3) Metal Wire
You can also use a piece of a long wire in your bathroom, especially in the shower or a clogged bathtub drain which has a lot of hair accumulation. The concept behind this is like fishing. Just like a fish, you fish for the stuck hair strands and remove them. For this, you will need a piece of wire long enough to hook the hair strands inside the drain and pull them out. Bend one end of the wire to form a hook, and insert it in the drain. Move this wire inside the drain in a circular motion to hook all the hair strands. If your wire is small, bend it from the side you are holding it too so that you accidentally don’t drop it in the drain. Once the circular movement is smooth, you can the pull the wire out of the drain. You will notice a bunch of hair at the end of the wire, and this number is probably more than you expected. Dump this bunch in the trash and pour some hot water down the drain to finish the process of unblocking the clogged shower drain. To avoid the same problem in future, install a sieve or a screen on your shower drain which will prevent any hair going inside your drain (7).
4) Baking Soda And Vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar work similar to the solution for a blocked drain which included the washing soda. It is just that this method is a strong solution to clear a blocked drain. You will require one cup of baking soda, one cup of vinegar, and a container with an insulated handle for this method. Pour the baking soda into the container and heat up the vinegar in your microwave for 2 minutes. Pour it into the container with baking soda and pour it down the drain. Do not keep your face over the drain when you are performing this and make sure you hold the hot container away from your body to avoid any burns. Wait for 5 minutes once you have poured this mixture so that it loosens all the dirt/grease/scum, and pour 2 liters of hot water down the drain to cleanse and make your drainage pipes as clean as new. You may have to repeat this process 3-4 times if you haven’t cleaned your drainage pipes in a long time. You can also make it a routine to clean your pipes with this method to avoid their blockage later (8).
5) Removing The Stopper
This method can only be used in the drains which have been installed with a stopper to trap any solid particles and prevent them from going further into the drainage pipe. This one of the best home remedies for a clogged tub which usually has some stopper. Some of them are designed to be lifted, while others are designed to be turned. You will also find that a lot of them need to be disassembled. Whatever the method is, it will be mentioned in the user manual of the drain stopper. Just follow the instructions in the manual to open the stopper, and clean it thoroughly before putting it back in place. You can also clean the drain from the inside with the wire (refer to the 4th point) before you put the stopper back just to be sure none of the particles escaped the stopper and crept into the drain. After you are done putting back the stopper, pour hot water down the drain (9).
Do’s And Don’ts To Avoid Clogged Drains
- Keep a wastebasket in the bathroom in which you can dump the hair bunches, cotton swabs and other solid materials that you use in the bathroom to avoid the drains from blocking.
- Do not shave over the sink because all the hair strands will fall in it and when you turn on the water, they will all accumulate in your drain to clog it. Shave above a towel/paper towel so you can later dump the hair in a trash can (11).
- Vegetables with stringy quality will promote the blockage of drainage pipes and continuous dumping of such food products in the sink will ultimately lead to blockage. The vegetables like potato, asparagus, corn husks, artichokes, carrots, etc, are some vegetables you must avoid throwing in the sink (12).
- Wipe your plates and pots before putting them in the sink because the grease on them will go down the drain when you wash them and will create a problem later when the accumulation is so high that it leads to clogging of your drains.
- Dry pasta and rice will expand when it comes in contact with water, so if you let these food items down the drain, they will expand as soon as you pour water in it and will create an obstruction (14).
- Egg shells, coffee grounds, bones, seeds, etc. will also promote blocking of the drains so avoid throwing these things in the sink (15).
- Whenever you use the sink for washing plates and pots or whenever you shower, pour some hot water down the drain after you are done. This will loosen and wash away any grease or scum that has been stuck inside the pipe (16).
- Brush your hair away from the sink in the bathroom, and also avoid washing away the hair from the hairbrush on the sink. This will create an unnecessary accumulation of hair in the drain, and after a while, you will see that water has been accumulated (17).
- Clean the sinks or any other drains regularly using one of the methods mentioned above in the article. This will ensure that even the little clogging agents are removed from the drainage pipes (18).
- This one is very important if you want to keep your pipes intact. Do not pour hot water in you drainage system if the pipes are made up of plastic, as very hot water can cause the plastic pipes to crack. This is usually the case with bathroom pipes because kitchen sink drainage system is made to withstand hot water (19).
- Install a drain screen or a mesh or some kind of stopper on all the drains which catches at least the solid particles that have the potential to block the water flowing from the drain. While buying a stopper, make sure that you buy the one that can easily be removed by you and doesn’t require dismantling. This will save your time and also the plumbing cost (20).
Regular cleaning of clogged drains is always the better option as you don’t want to deal with an icky blockage. This will not only help you keep your home clean and save the unnecessary plumbing costs, but it will also stop any mosquitoes from growing in the water accumulated because of blockage in the drains. Apart from this, make it a point to not let anything down the drains except water because you will not know how and when the accumulation is happening inside the pipes and what the cause is. So, it is always good to avoid putting anything in the drains that don’t belong there. Another mantra you need to swear by is pouring some hot water down the drains after using them, as this releases the materials stuck inside the pipes and washes them away, thus preventing any blockage. You should be good if you follow the steps mentioned above to fix a clogged drain, just remember, be responsible because clogged drains equal to unhygienic conditions.
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