Before the Plumber Arrives, Here’s How to Manage a Clogged Drain
While not every clogged drain can be cleared without professional tools, you may be able to make your plumber’s job easier and faster by loosening the clog a little.
Dealing with Minor Clogs
First, find out what’s clogging the drain by inspecting the drain with a flashlight. A stuck object such as a child’s toy is best pulled out with a claw grabber. For a hair or soap scum clog, just pouring a kettle of salty, boiling water down the drain may be enough to clear it.
If this doesn’t help, plunge the drain with an appropriate plunger. Toilet (flange) plungers have an elongated neck in the middle of the rubber cup, while sink/bathtub (cup) plungers lack this. To ensure an airtight seal in a sink, block the sink overflow drain with a rag and cover the drain opening completely with the plunger’s rubber cup. If the sink or tub is empty, add some water to increase the plunger’s suction.
Removing and cleaning the U-shaped P-trap in the pipe under the sink can also help. For your safety, do this only if you haven’t yet poured in a chemical drain cleaner. Place a bucket under the pipes first to catch draining water and debris.
Loosening Stubborn Clogs
For a clogged drain in a sink, pour 1/2 cup baking soda into the drain, followed by 1/2 cup vinegar. Let the mixture bubble for at least five minutes, then pour in a kettle of boiling water to wash the solution down. If the toilet is the problem, a closet auger designed for toilets can help you loosen the clog.
Chemical drain cleaners are available, but they’re not ideal. These products are minimally effective on clogs submerged in water and the caustic ingredients they contain can cause chemical burns and damage to your pipes. To protect yourself and your pipes, wait for your plumber to bring the tools and know-how to get your drains flowing freely again.
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