A clogged drain can disrupt your day. Brushing your teeth or washing your breakfast dishes isn’t easy when water won’t go down the drain. Luckily, you can often unclog a drain yourself and avoid calling a plumber. Here are three methods to try.
Unclog a Drain With a Plunger
Plungers are not just for toilets. Use a plunger with a plain, bowl-shaped head to loosen a clog in a kitchen sink or tub drain. Begin by filling the sink or tub with enough water to cover the head of the plunger. Then, position the plunger over the drain, fully covering the drain opening. Plunge up and down using swift motions. Keep the plunger handle straight up and down as you work.
Remove the plunger. If the water goes down the drain, you’re in the clear. If not, try re-positioning the plunger and trying again with more force.
Remove Blockages with Hot Vinegar
Chemical drain cleaners sold at the hardware store can do more harm than good. They can lead to leaks and corrosion, especially in older pipes. A safer, more eco-friendly alternative is to clean your drains with white vinegar. This works well with blockages caused by soap scum or grease.
Start by warming about 1 cup of vinegar on the stove. You want it hot, but not boiling. While the vinegar is heating, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow it with the hot vinegar. The mixture will bubble and foam. Let the solution work its magic for about 10 minutes, then rinse it away. With any luck, the drain will now be clear.
Use a Drain Snake
Plumbers often unclog a drain with a long, auger-like device called a drain snake. These professional drain snakes are not suitable for use by the average homeowner. However, most hardware stores sell smaller plastic or metal drain snakes. They look like long, flat tubes with barbs on the sides.
Drain snakes work well for removing clogs caused by hair and other solid debris. To use one, fill your sink or tub with water. Then, push the snake down the drain. Turn it a little, then pull it back up. Remove any hair or debris caught on the snake. Repeat this process a few times until you no longer see debris on the drain snake. Follow up with some baking soda and vinegar, as described above, to remove any lingering grime inside the drain.
One of these methods will likely clear your drain. If one approach doesn’t work, give another one a try. Call your local plumber if all three methods fail to unclog a drain. The blockage may be further down in your main drain pipes. A plumber with the right equipment and experience needs to remove deep-down clogs.