woman using plunger to fix clogged drain

What to Do For Your Clogged Drain

Here's a hint: Don't use drain cleaner!

You know the warning signs. You turn on your water and the sink takes a little longer to drain, then water starts pooling up, and before you know it you’ve got a clogged drain on your hands. It may be tempting to reach for that big bottle of thick liquid with lots of chemicals to fix the problem, but drain cleaner is probably the worst thing you can pour down your drain. They have extremely harsh chemicals that will damage your pipes over time, leading to costly repairs down the road. Instead, try these DIY ideas to unclog your drain and learn when it’s time to call in the professionals.

DIY Tricks to Unclog

If you just have a small clog, it can likely be fixed by a few simple solutions. So, before you call the plumber, try these ideas.

  • Hot water – Loosen up gunk that’s stuck in your pipe with very hot water. Heat up a large pot of water and pour it slowly down the drain in two or three stages, allowing the hot water to work its magic for 10-15 seconds before pouring again.
  • Baking soda and vinegar – Bring back your science fair memories of making volcanoes with a baking soda and vinegar concoction. Mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar and immediately pour it down the drain (you want the fizzing to mostly happen in the pipes). The chemical reactions will help to loosen up gunk, hair, and grime that’s built up in the pipe. Let it sit for at least an hour and then flush the drain out with hot water.
  • Snake or auger – A plumber’s snake or auger is a tool used to break up clogs in pipes. There are many different types that you can find at your local hardware store, but in general, you’ll feed the snake’s cable through the pipe and turn a handle that keeps the snake spinning throughout the pipe. Once it hooks onto the clog, you can pull it out and throw the mess away.
  • Plunger – Cup plungers (often the common plunger that people use on their toilets) work best on smaller clogs. Place the plunger completely over the drain and turn on the sink to let a small amount of water gather in the sink. Begin plunging up and down until the plunger becomes easier to plunge, which means the clog has loosened up.

When to Call A Professional

If none of your DIY attempts worked to unclog the drain or if your drain is exhibiting any of these signs, it’s time to call a professional plumber to prevent any further damage to your pipes and home.

  • Black sludge – If you start to see black sludge appearing from any drain in your home, call a plumber ASAP. The sludge is a mixture of different materials that get flushed down drains including soap, hair, skin cells and more, which creates a breeding ground for bacteria and a major health hazard.
  • Strange sounds – Hearing weird sounds in any plumbing area is a red flag. Clogs can accumulate over time and it can release gurgling sounds. These clogs can also accumulate agents that direct gas up your into household pipes, so call an emergency plumber right away to protect your home and safety.
  • Flooding – Slowly draining water is a clear sign of a clogged drain, but if it continues and starts overflowing from the sink, it can cause flooding and major damage to your home. Call Mason Mechanical’s emergency line right away to stop the flooding in its tracks.
  • Foul smell – If your drain is starting to emit strong odors, you should call a professional. Smells are often associated with bacteria, so get the drain cleared soon to prevent any health hazards.
  • Frequent clogs – Do you have a drain that keeps clogging over and over? Even if you’re able to unclog it every time on your own, frequent clogs can indicate a larger problem with your pipes or valves. Schedule an inspection from a plumber to get it checked out.

Prevent Future Backups

Of course, the best way to avoid a clogged drain is to maintain it properly in the first place. Clean your drains monthly with the baking soda and vinegar combination to break up any clogs that are building up before they get too big. Avoid putting the following down your drains (or toilets):

  • Grease, fats or oil
  • Eggshells
  • Pasta, rice or potatoes
  • Bones
  • Stringy or fibrous foods
  • Coffee grounds
  • Feminine products
  • Tissues and paper towels
  • “Flushable” wipes
  • Hair (get a stopper to catch them)

Even with preventative measures, plumbing issues can happen, so always have the number of a reliable, experienced plumbing company on hand. Let Mason Plumbing take care of all your plumbing needs. We deliver prompt service all over the valley with a local team, fully stocked trucks, and respectful plumbers.