Have you run into a clog, but are unsure of whether you should fix it yourself or call a plumber? Some clogs can be fixed with easy do-it-yourself style methods, while others will require some tools, and still others will require a professional touch. Today we will touch on a few of the more common types of bathroom clogs and how they are rectified. We will introduce some unclogging methods that can be done by a layman with no knowledge of plumbing, and let you know when a clog might be out of your hands.
There are a couple of variables at play when determining whether you can unclog a toilet yourself or not. The first is the location of the clog. If it is too far down the drain pipe, the only choices may be to use an augur (which most homeowners don’t have – you can rent one or buy one at a hardware store) or to call a plumber and get them to hydro jet your system. The second variable is the composition of the actual clog. If it’s too densely packed, or a single large piece (for instance you somehow got an entire turkey stuck in your kitchen sink drain) then no amount of DIY unclogging is going to work and it’s recommended to hire someone to unclog your toilet.
Clearing Sink Clogs
If the clog is in a sink, there are three general locations that it can be in: above the trap, in the trap, or past the trap. If you do not know what a trap is, it’s the curved arm of the drain pipe that comes directly out of an appliance. This “traps” some water in it to keep gases, rodents, and other Bad Things from coming back up out of your drains.
A sink clog above or within the trap is usually a DIY unclogging scenario. For an above-the-trap situation, you should start by removing the drain stopper. Once this is removed, you can usually access the clog directly, by using something like a Zip-It, or even a bent coat hangar. The general idea is the catch the clog from the bottom and pull it up out of the drain.
If the clog is within the trap, you will probably need to open up the trap. They are usually held together with a nut that can be turned with channel-lock pliers. Open it up, remove the clog, and while you are down there maybe hit the whole area with a wire brush to clean it out.
For a clog that is past the trap, if it’s too far to reach, you will need to call a plumber or rent an augur to snake out the drain. There are many types of augurs available, from simple hand-worked augurs to mechanically operated units. Choose the one that fits your budget (most places will let you rent the tools) and bring it to your clogged drain. You can either go in from the drain hole, the trap, or maybe even the clean-out on your main drain if the clog has formed that far down.
Toilet Clogs and Other Methods
Toilet clogs are much the same, except that they are usually messy situations that most people will call a plumber for anyway. Snakes are usually used in this situation, and going in through the toilet drain can even give you access to snake out the entire main drain of the house, if the augur is long and strong enough. If you buy an augur, keep in mind that it’s a good idea to use separate augurs for toilets and sinks. This probably doesn’t need much more explanation.
There are some other methods you may try. One that works in clogs that aren’t too far in is to pour a mixture of one part vinegar, one part baking soda into the drain and let the fizzing action clear it out for you. This one simple method may actually save you some money some day, if you employ it in the right situations. Remember that the mixture is going to expand and fizz violently, so don’t pour too much down the drain.
That’s about all we have time for this week, but check back next week for more great plumbing advice. As always, if you found this post useful, share it with your friends on social media.