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What’s The Best Way To Unclog Drains In Your Home?

Every one of us will face the dreaded drain clog at some point in our lives. It could be caused by flushing a great deal of toilet paper, allowing hair down the shower drain, or dumping grease down the garbage disposal, but whatever the source, knowing how to unclog a drain is essential so you can get your plumbing back in working order.

To identify the best methods for unclogging various drains—such as toilets and sinks—we spoke with a plumbing expert, who offered his clog do’s and don’ts. Here’s what he suggests.

Put Down the Drain Cleaner

When you notice your drain is clogged, your first reaction may be to reach for the drain cleaner bottle under your sink—I know most of us have a bottle of drain cleaner on hand, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. However, experts recommend that you first try to clear your drains with a plunger or drain snake.

Most drain cleaners work by causing a chemical reaction inside your drain pipe, often using hydrochloric acid. These reactions typically produce heat, which can cause irreversible damage to the pipe itself. This is especially true if the cleaner does not dissolve the clog quickly or entirely, because the liquid chemicals will sit on top of the clog. In contrast, the chemical reaction is concentrated on one small section of the pipe. While using a drain cleaner now and then isn’t the end of the world, you’ll be doing your plumbing (and possibly your wallet) a favor if you reach for the plunger first.

How to Unclog Your Toilet

You’ll have to unclog a toilet at some point in your life. But don’t worry! When you have the right tools, unclogging a toilet is simple. First and foremost, if the bowl isn’t draining, resist the urge to flush the toilet once more. You may believe that doing so will help push the clog down the drain, but in reality, it usually results in the toilet bowl overflowing and creating a bigger mess for you to clean up. Instead, grab a toilet plunger, which should have an extension flange at the end of the bell. This plunger style makes creating a proper seal in the toilet bowl much easier (and you can also use it on other drains by flipping the flange up into the bell).

To plunge your toilet, ensure there is water in the bowl and angle your plunger, so the bell forms a seal over the drain. Don’t use too much force on your first push—there’s likely air inside the bell that might cause water to spill out of the bowl if you plunge too quickly. Yuck. Once the air has been expelled, and a good seal has been achieved, proceed to push the plunger several times. This back and forth action in the drain should loosen a clog. After a minute or two of plunging, you’ll hear a draining noise that indicates your efforts were successful.

You should avoid flushing any chemicals down the toilet drain, especially if you have a septic tank. This can interfere with the natural breakdown of materials in your septic tank and harm the environment if released in the drain field or back up into the yard.

How to Unclog a Sink Drain

If your kitchen or bathroom sink is clogged, there are a few options for flushing it. The simplest first option is to boil water in your tea kettle and then pour it down the drain. Often, the hot water is sufficient to dissolve the soap scum or grease that is causing the clog.

Another option is to make your own drain cleaner out of pantry staples; combine equal parts vinegar and baking soda and pour it down the drain, causing foam to form and fizzle. Because the reaction needs to occur near the clog, this works best if there is no standing water in the sink.

No luck? Then get a plunger—there are mini plungers designed for sinks, but you can also flip up the flange of your toilet plunger. Plungers are an excellent tool for unclogging sinks, not just toilets. Fill the sink with a few inches of water to create suction, then plunge up and down steadily. The clog should begin to dissolve after several plunges, and the water should drain.If you keep experiencing clogs and can’t figure out the cause, it’s time to call an experienced plumber. JR Putman Plumbing provides drain cleaning in Elk Grove, CA.

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