Solutions For A Clogged Drain: A Guide To Understanding How Drains Are Unclogged

by Diane Barnes

Drains get clogged. It's a common problem for homeowners. Most of the time, if the clog is minor, you can handle the problem yourself. There are a few different methods that you can use to free up the drain. The most common solutions involve pouring a liquid down the drain and letting it slowly dislodge whatever is blocking the drain.

The next step, for those persistent clogs, is to use a tool such as a drain snake or compressed air. This is something that you should usually leave to the professionals.

Let's examine each solution and see how it works:

Natural Remedy

A popular natural remedy is to use vinegar and baking soda. This is good for minor clogs. It is a safe alternative to lye based cleaners. Some people like this because it does not pose a risk. You won't get burned if you spill some of it on you. It is also not harmful to inhale, unlike some lye based drain cleaners.

The combination of vinegar and baking soda does two things. The first is that it helps to remove soapy residue and grease. The second reason that the two work well is that they expand in the drain. This helps push the clog away.

Heavy Duty Liquid Drain Cleaners

If you have exhausted the natural remedies, then it is time to look into heavy duty drain cleaners. These are lye based. The lye will dissolve the clog. Be careful, though, because lye is a very dangerous chemical. It causes burns if you touch it and it can also damage your lungs if inhaled.

In the old days people used to mix sodium hydroxide with water, creating lye, and pour it down the drain. You had to be very careful when doing this. It would burn your skin and the vapors were poisonous. Now, commercial drain cleaners have formulated the drain cleaners to be less caustic to the skin and less harmful to breathe, but it is still something you need to be careful about.

Drain Snakes: The Professionals Choice

These are the tools that most drain cleaning professionals use. While you can buy these tools at home improvement stores, it is best to leave them to the professionals. If you are not skilled in using these tools you can damage your pipes. Another reason to be cautious is that too much force can cause the snake to break off inside the pipe, which will require a major repair job.

A plumbing snake is normally metal. It is operated by turning a crank that feeds the snake though the pipe. This front of the snake cuts through the clog. This is the method of last resort. It is used for the toughest clogs.