How to Unclog Any Clogged Drain

How to Unclog Any Clogged Drain

kitchen sink clogged and not draining.
kitchen sink clogged and not draining.

With an average national price of $327 to have a plumber make a house call, it’s in your best interests to handle a clogged drain yourself. Whether you’re a homeowner, renter, or business owner, a drain blockage can severely impede your daily life.

Keep reading to learn how to unclog any drain and keep your pipes flowing freely!

Clogged Drain vs. Clogged Main Sewer Line

The first step with clogged plumbing is diagnosing whether it’s simply a clogged drain or a clogged main sewer drain line.

Clogged drains are usually localized and only affect one particular drainage area. If only your sink drain, shower drain, bathtub drain, or toilet drain is backing up, the problem is most likely localized at the fixture’s drain.  Localized fixture drains can usually be rectified using methods outlined later in this article.

The main sewer drain line is a larger pipe typically 3 or 4 inches in diameter that is responsible for collecting all of a home’s wastewater and transporting it to the town’s sewer main or septic tank. It must remain free of debris, buildup or restriction to avoid a sewage backup. When a sewer line blockage occurs, it will usually affect more than one drain in the home or business at once. Telltale symptoms of a clogged sewer drain include water backing up from one local plumbing drain into another, a foul sewer smell, a gargling sound from your toilet or drains running very slowly even after being cleared.

How to Unclog a Sink Drain

Bathroom sink drain clogged with hair
Bathroom sink drain clogged with hair

Most sink drain clogs can be cleared relatively quickly and with little investment.

One of the biggest culprits of kitchen sink clogs is food and grease buildup, especially if the sink is connected to a garbage disposal. Adding a tablespoon of dish soap to a large boiling pot of water and pouring it down the drain can help clear fatty buildup and get things moving again.

Most people don’t think to use a plunger on a sink clog, but this can be pretty effective for more stubborn clogs. Often the suction is enough to dislodge a slight blockage.

A household drain snake is usually the last resort for more persistent clogs. Make sure you remove your sink strainer, feed the auger into the drain, and twist the hand crank until you reach the blockage. You can find these at most hardware and home improvement stores for around $30.

How to Unclog a Shower and Tub Drain

While food and debris are the biggest causes of kitchen sink drain clogs, hair and soap buildup are two leading reasons for bathroom sink, shower and tub drain blockages. Before you try any of the following methods, be sure to inspect the drain for visible collection of hair or other debris first. Often this debris can be removed, saving you from exerting further effort.

Once you’ve inspected for surface hair and debris, the pot of boiling water we used on the sink drain comes back into play, but this time without the dish soap. This method effectively clears out soap-scum buildup and other bath products that may collect in the drain.

Chemical-based drain openers aren’t nearly as effective as they claim to be and can be unsafe for the environment. Adding one cup of white vinegar to one cup of baking soda and pouring it down the drain before the boiling water will be as effective.

If the water doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to break out the drain snake again. There are plastic drain snakes that are gentler for use on sink and shower drains, but carefully using a metal one will do fine.

How to Unclog a Main Sewer Line

A blocked main sewer line is the most problematic of all, but there are a few things you can do to get them flowing freely again.

The first step is to remove the clean-out plug with an adjustable wrench. Be sure to stand clear as wastewater may come pouring out. Vertical clean-out plugs will require a bucket to be placed underneath.

Next, you’re going to be using the snake again. Using the same method outlined earlier, insert the auger into the drain and pull it back and forth to dislodge the blockage. Most household snakes might not have the reach needed to get deep clogs, so these problematic issues are where professional assistance will be required.

Common Sewer Line Drain Problems

These are most common sewer line problems found in pvc, cast-iron and terracotta sewer pipes.

  • Build-Up from grease, residue and scaling
  • Sag “Belly” in the main line
  • Cracks allowing soil to enter
  • Breach from roots

Sewer Cable Machine

Professionals use commercial grade sectional drain snakes such as the Rigid K60 to power through deep clogs. With multiple snake and auger diameters and lengths, these powerful machines can get to places a simple hardware store snake can’t. With 600prm of clog-busting power, these machines have the ability to break through the toughest blockages.

Hydro Jetting (Recommended)

The most powerful tool at a plumber’s disposal, a hydro jetting sewer cleaning machine, uses highly pressurized water to power through heavy sediments, soil, and deposits in the drain line. A hose is placed into the sewer line and muscles through the blockage. You can think of this as pressure washing the inside of your pipes!

The hydro-jet can also be used with a descaling agent to remove mineral scale and deposits from the sewer drain. Descaling your pipes with a hydro jet can ensure that your pipes will flow freely for years to come.

Expert Drain & Sewer Services

Whether you have a persistently clogged drain or need drain cleaning, you will want a plumbing service with years of both residential and commercial experience. Visit our website or call us at (813)-570-7257 to learn more about our services and schedule an appointment. Life doesn’t have to stop because of a sewer line blockage, so make the right choice and reach out to Choice Plumbing Tampa today!


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