There are few things that are more of a pain than realizing your drain is clogged. Whether it’s your sink, toilet, or shower, it’s a problem that often needs to be taken care of immediately so as to avoid flooding or further damage/backup. Because of the sense of urgency in this particular situation, many people feel the need to take matters into their own hands. Whether or not you believe yourself to be a plumber at heart, you need to be very careful before taking any steps in regards to your drains as to not cause further damage. There are some definite do’s and don’ts when it comes to not only unclogging your drains but also preventing clogs and damage in the first place.
Install a drain filter – Installing a drain filter or drain trap is an easy way to keep drains clog-free. This device will catch any large items, such as food or hair, and will make cleaning easy by trapping these items before they go further down your drain.
Run some hot water down your drain – If you see a clog starting to take place, try running a little bit of hot water down your drain. This likely won’t help solve the problem permanently, but it may dislodge any small items that are stuck.
Run cold water while your disposal is running – This is a good step to take every time you turn your garbage disposal on to help prevent clogs and help your food get flushed down the drain more easily. Keep the water running for a minute or so after you’re finished to help get rid of any particles that may have been left behind.
When it comes to the don’ts of drain clogs, the steps you take before the clog are just as important as what you do after a clog has already started.
Before a Clog
Put oily, greasy foods down the sink – While it seems like it should be ok to put oils or grease down the drain because they’re liquids, the fact is that these will eventually harden and congeal, causing clogs in your drain.
Put non-food items or food waste down the drain – Drains and garbage disposals are delicate appliances. While some things may seem ok to put in your garbage disposal and flush down the toilet, if you’re questioning whether it will be ok or not, it’s always safer to err on the side of caution. Band-Aids, cotton balls, cigarette butts, paper towels, animal bones or skin, egg shells, hair, etc. are all big no-nos. If only you could see some of the things we’ve dug up in people’s drains! Sometimes you have to wonder what they were thinking.
After a Clog
Put boiling water or vinegar down the drain – While it is probably ok to run some hot water down your drain if you notice the start of a clog, avoid pouring boiling water or vinegar down your drain. This may help to slightly unclog drains; however, it will eventually trigger more damage by causing your drains to rust and/or break.
Use chemicals or acid cleaners – This is the first thing many people think to do as soon as they notice a clog. These may provide a short-term solution but in the long run, they will end up causing more harm than good. The corrosive nature of drain cleaners will begin to eat away at the clog, but likely also your pipes. Many times, they won’t even work! Liquid drain cleaners may get the job done when your drain is slow but not If it’s completely stopped up.
If none of the above methods work, or if you just think you may be out of your league with a clog, it probably means it’s time to call a plumber!