Naperville Plumbing

Plumbing in Naperville IL

Drain Cleaning

Unclogging sink and bathtub drains is a common occurrence in our home. Mainly because there are 4 females with long hair. But what are the best ways to deal with a clogged drain and drain cleaning?

The first question is whether to use chemical drain cleaners? NEVER use chemically based drain cleaners, they are bad for the drains, bad for the environment and don’t usually work that effectively. Professional drain cleaners will never use a chemically based cleaner to clear a drain for these reasons.

Unclogging sink drains or bathtub drains is an ongoing battle if you live with people who have long hair. Hair is the biggest culprit with clogged drains. However, some clogged drains can be cleared by using a few inexpensive tools.

Here’s a little drain pipe 101 to help you understand how everything works. The bottom of the drainpipe has a curved section of pipe called a trap. The trap is the pipe under the sink and it’s shaped like an “U”, the trap for bathtubs is a different shape called a “P” trap, because it’s shaped like the letter “P”. The curves in the trap are there to “trap” some water in the drain line, and prevent sewer gases from coming up the pipe and into the house. The smell would not be good if it came in your house. These traps will get blocked with things like hair and soap scum in the bath room and cooking grease or food particles in kitchen drains.

One of the best household tools is a plunger or plumber’s helper. Before you use the plunger make sure there is enough water in the bathtub or sink to cover the bottom of the plunger, block the overflow outlet with a rag, put the plunger over the drain, and push down and up for five to ten times. The pressure will clear any clog and open up the pipe if it’s a minor clog. If it doesn’t clear, try plunging again – you might have just moved the blockage and now need to move it down the pipe.

If a plunger doesn’t unclog the drain, a “snake” – a long flexible steel cable wound on a handle – is the next tool to use. In a sink you feed the snake down the drain, and in a bathtub you feed the snake down through the overflow plate opening. Start by feeding about 3 feet of the snake into the opening, turning it as you push it forward. You will feel some resistance as you work the snake through the trap under the drain, and the turning helps to move the head through the trap. The snake should either break up the clog by pushing its way through it, or your turning will hook the end of the snake onto the clog and you can pull it out.

Once the snake is through the trap, move the cable back and forth through the drainpipe while still turning it. You usually feel the clog when the snake hits it. You will also want to run some water down the drain while moving the snake in the drain. Once the clog is gone, the water will run free. Repeat this process a couple of times to get the drain cleared out, since some clogs are more persistent than others.

Here are some tips on how to prevent future drain clogs.

  • Use strainers in all your drains to stop hair from going down the drain; it’s easier to clear out a strainer than to unclog a drain.
  • Keep small pieces of soap from going down the drain, don’t dissolve and wash away, they actually cause the drain to clog.
  • Every few months, pour a cup of baking soda in the drain then add a cup of vinegar. After the mixture has set for a few minutes, rinse it with hot water.