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It happened again.

No matter how many times you ask your spouse or your roommate to be mindful of their long hair, you’re dealing with a dreaded drain clog. You want to be able to take care of this yourself, but also want to make sure you’re doing an effective job. You know, of course, that this won’t be the last time this happens.

Wondering how to clear a clogged drain, and when to call an expert? Read on for our recommendations.

What Can Clog a Drain

Drains clog when items that don’t dissolve well in water bind to the walls of drain pipes. Common clogging agents include:

  • Dirt
  • Skin flakes
  • Hair
  • Grease
  • Soap scum
  • Food
  • Offset pipes
  • Tree roots
  • Small objects
  • Mineral buildup

Have you figured out what is blocking your drainpipe? You’ll need to keep the type of clog mind while devising a strategy to clear your blocked drain. Not all clogs will respond to chemical or flushing treatment and will require additional snaking or physical unclogging with the right tool.

DIY Tricks to Unclog a Drain

You can fix this! Once you have identified the source of the clog (or have a vague idea), you can try one or a combination of these fixes in order to clear your plumbing.

Wire Hanger or Snake

Untangle and clear out hair from a drainpipe with a homemade snake. Use a straightened-out wire hanger with a 90-degree angle hook to locate the clog and drag out any unwanted material.

Remember not to push the clog further down to where the wire hanger cannot reach! If you need to follow up with a plunger, give it a try. Your efforts might be more successful after it’s been wire-snaked.

If you want to get fancy and don’t have a wire hanger to spare, head to the store and pick up a hand-operated drain snake. You can get one for $10-$30. It may save you the hassle, and provide additional length to reach deep into the clogged pipe.

Plunger

A cup plunger has a suction cup attached to a wooden handle. The rubber creates a seal around the drain and increases the pressure force of the plunger.

Plunge for 30-second increments to loosen the clog. This may need to be repeated over the course of 15-20 minutes. Once plunged, run the water to flush the remaining material out of the drain.

Remember– never use a plunger if you have used a chemical drain cleaner. These chemicals can splash up from the force of the plunger and cause serious injury or burns.

Boiling Water

Hot water can sometimes break up materials into a flushable amount. Dirt, grease, and soap buildup requires heat in order to unstick from surfaces.

Take your kitchen kettle and heat your water to a boil. Once it reaches a rolling boil, pour it directly down the drain into the blockage. Carefully follow with plunging, if necessary.

Don’t worry if this takes more than one try! It can often take multiple kettles and repeated plunging in order to clear a particularly stubborn clog.

Chemical Drain Cleaner

As a last resort, pick up a bottle of chemical drain cleaner. Drain-cleaning chemicals are potent, and not very good for the environment.

You may need to wear protective eyewear in gloves before handling your bottle of chemical drain cleaner. Follow the instructions printed on the bottle, and flush with water as soon as the instructions allow.  Do not follow with plunging.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

As a safer alternative to chemical drain cleaner, baking soda and vinegar can create a chemical reaction that clears tough clogs.

Combine one cup of cleaning vinegar with one cup of boiling water, and set aside. Once you have done this, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain. Give the baking thirty seconds to settle and cover a large portion of the problem drain.

Following the baking soda, pour down your vinegar and hot water solution. Once the vinegar and baking soda combine, the mixture will bubble and fix. Let this reaction fizzle in the drain for about an hour.

After an hour, follow with a kettle’s worth of hot water. The heat and liquid should flush out any remaining material.

When to Call a Plumber

If your DIY attempts haven’t cleared your clog drain, it’s time to call in a professional. It’s not worth losing access to your kitchen sink or high-traffic bathroom. A clog in a vital area can keep you from the things you’d rather be doing, and derail your routine.

Anytime a clog is causing water to spread is a time to call in a plumbing service. What starts out as a little bit of water can quickly grow into serious, expensive water damage.

Additionally, a serious clog can result in burst pipes or serious leaks. Make sure you know when to take it seriously!

The Experts on How to Clear a Clogged Drain

If you are experiencing an increased amount of clogs and aren’t sure if your methods are helping, it might be time to call in the professionals. A professional plumber will have more tools, experience, and patience in handling even the toughest of clogs.

For more expert-level information on how to clear a clogged drain, as well as other useful household suggestions, send your questions to My Guys Plumbing, Heating & AC. There’s no need to deal with standing water any longer!

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