At some point, you’ll likely find yourself trying to figure out how to unclog a drain. Your first instinct might be to call a plumber. But the solution to clogged drains is often a quick and fairly simple process that most people can manage on their own.
If you want to save some money on plumbing, handling your own drain cleaning is a great place to start. Here are some helpful tips to get your clogged sink drains working like new again.
Clogged drains are usually the result of a foreign object or debris getting stuck in a drain pipe, or built-up residue that chokes off the flow. The cause of a clog and the fix for it may vary depending on what kind of sink it is. For example, a kitchen sink clog might present different challenges than other sinks in the home because of the nature of what goes into the drain.
But wherever they are in the home, it’s important to fix clogged drains as soon as you find them. If the problem goes unfixed for too long, water can begin to back up. And no one wants to have to fix water damage. The more drain cleaning techniques you know, the quicker you can resolve the problem.
One of the easier and more affordable ways to fix a clogged sink drain is with boiling water, so it should be one of the first things you try:
It might take some patience and a little practice, but a plunger can be another cost-effective solution for fixing clogged sink drains:
Although any plunger will likely do the trick, you may want to invest in a mini-plunger designed specifically for clogged sink drains.
If the hot water and plunger haven’t helped to remove your kitchen sink clog, the problem may be your garbage disposal, if you have one. Here’s how to check:
Home appliance maintenance can be tricky, so when it comes to checking your garbage disposal, you’ll want to watch out for safety hazards and be careful not to damage the mechanism. For example, you should cut the electricity to your garbage disposal before making any repairs.
Often a sink clog can be remedied with drain cleaner, which is available at your local hardware or home improvement store. But you could also try a homemade drain cleaner, like vinegar and baking soda:
A variation on this technique is to combine baking soda with salt and pour it down the drain. This homemade drain cleaner would need to sit for several hours, though, and then be flushed with boiling water.
A drain snake is a simple tool that can be used for drain cleaning. It’s a long, flexible metal cable with an auger, or drill, on the end for breaking up clogs. To use a drain snake:
You can purchase either an electric or hand-powered drain snake. Or you can use plastic clog removers, which are long and thin with little teeth on the sides to snag debris that may be built up. The best choice for you will depend on both your budget and your level of experience using plumbing tools. Or, in a pinch, you could also try using a straightened wire coat hanger instead.
Most sinks have a P-trap, a curve of the drainpipe that’s usually in the cabinet underneath the sink. To see if this is the source of your clog, you’ll want to:
As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the same applies when dealing with a clogged drain. Even if you’ve become a pro at using homemade drain cleaners, you’d much rather not have the problem at all. Luckily, there are several things you can do to avoid clogged drains:
Most of us can’t fix every problem that arises in our homes — like flooding from corroded water pipes or a broken water main — but even learning how to regularly unclog a drain with baking soda can save some time and money on more extensive measures and expensive plumber fees. What’s more, standing water leaves deposits of scum on the sides of the sink, which requires more water to clean, which doesn’t fully drain, leaving fresh deposits, and the cycle continues. When you fix clogged drains in your home, it helps reduce your overall water consumption and may lower your bill.
There are also environmental benefits of regular drain cleaning. Less water consumption means less energy used in water treatment, so if your power comes from fossil fuels, that’s less carbon emitted into the atmosphere. Plus, using DIY cleaning supplies that are environmentally friendly helps not only our planet but also your plumbing, which can be harmed by powerful chemical drain cleaners. Many tasks can be done in an eco-friendly way — there are even natural remedies for pest control!
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