Drain Cleaning: Do It Yourself Or Hire A Professional Plumber?

blocked-pipes-image-1You try to take a shower and end up ankle-deep in murky water. You brush your teeth, and the sink does not drain. We have all been there. There is nothing enjoyable about a clogged drain or pipe that is blocked. Luckily, there are quite a few drain cleaning solutions that can have things running smoothly again right away. How can you know to phone the local plumber in or whether to tackle the problem yourself? Here are several hints to assist you to make your choice.

Taking The DIY Strategy

From hair to grease and beyond, blockages and many clogs are easily resolved at home, using a number of DIY techniques. These work especially well on soft blockages that are close to the surface of the drain. These options may be for you if you know what is obstructing your drain, or you want to try a quick fix before calling a professional.

Corrosive Drain Cleaners 

The first thing, when faced with a clogged drain that a lot of people do, reaches for the drain cleaner. There are several drain cleaners on the market that use substances that are corrosive through soft clogs near the surface of the drain to power. These cleaners commonly come in liquid form and feature highly concentrated bleach, lye, or potassium hydroxide. Some drain cleaners contain two parts that are combined when poured into the drain, creating a gas that is trapped inside the plumbing by a thick foam. The foam is designed to coat the insides of the drain pipe, removing the substance causing the clog. Chemical drain cleaners can be very convenient and user-friendly. Most of them just need you to pour them into the clogged drain, wait awhile, then rinse with warm water. The disadvantage to chemical drain cleaners is that they’re generally unsuccessful on more tough clogs, or on blockages that occur further down the sewer line. The corrosive nature of the products also makes them potentially dangerous if they come into contact with your skin, eyes, and even lungs if their fumes are inadvertently breathed in by you. Take care to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, if you decide to use a chemical drain cleaner and take proper caution to prevent injury.

The Natural Approach

blocked-pipes-image-2A safer (but equally effective) option to chemical drain cleaners comes from combining ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. Would you remember construction volcanoes for the school science fair by combining vinegar with baking soda to make an “eruption” This technique builds on that same principle? First, pour a cup of dry baking soda down the drain. Afterward, pour vinegar down the drain. Any kind will do, although white vinegar and apple cider vinegar work great. When you pour the vinegar down the drain, you’ll want to cover the drain opening with some sort of drain stopper or a rag. The mixture of vinegar and baking soda will cause a chemical reaction, creating a foam which will rise up through the drain (just like the volcano). Covering the drain will keep just as much of the foam inside the pipe as possible, where it can unleash its cleaning power. Let the foam do its thing for about 30 minutes, then by pouring hot water down the drain flush it thoroughly. It may take multiple programs, but this method often makes your drain clean and flowing smoothly. Using baking soda and vinegar is amazing should you be buying natural alternative to corrosive cleaners, or when you need a drain cleaning solution on the fly.

Clearing The Trap 

A third DIY option demands a little bit more work on your part but is well worth it in case you are faced with some foreign material caught in your sink drain or a big hair clog. The first thing you will wish to accomplish is clear out the area under the sink. Then, place a bucket (you can use a pot in a bit) under the sink conduits to catch any water or other debris that might fall out of the sink trap. Then, and use pliers to loosen the alloy slip nuts finish removing them by hand. You are able to generally jump the pliers, and only turn the slip nuts, if you’ve got a plastic trap. It’s possible for you to use your hands to knock any blockage from inside the “elbow” of the trap into your bucket. If the clog is higher up near the drain (as is frequently the case with hair clogs in toilet sinks), you’re able to straighten a wire hanger and use that to pull the clog down through the conduit. Only put the elbow back on once the blockage is not unclear and re-tighten the slip nuts. Dispose of the water and debris in your bucket (don’t pour it back down the drain), and voila as good as new!

Sharon Collins