The first step to Drain Cleaning 101 is to keep items that clog out of them. For toilets, that means only flushing toilet paper, water and human waste. Kitchen sinks should have drain catchers to keep food scraps from running down the drain with the dishwater. Showers and tubs should have drain catchers to stop hair from tangling and making big blockages. With great care, the drains all around your house will be clear and problem-free.
Sadly, if you’re here, the instruction for clog prevention is too little and too late. If you want to find out how you can safely and effectively get rid of drain obstructions around the house, read these crucial tips:
Skip The Store-Bought Cleaner
The moment that you notice a slow-drain or a persistent clog, you will be tempted to walk to the corner store to buy a bottle of liquid drain cleaner, but you should resist that instinct.
One of the main problems with liquid drain cleaners is that they can damage the insides and the outsides of your plumbing system, especially after repeated use. Most bottles of store-bought liquid drain cleaner will contain hydrochloric acid. The corrosive chemical is included to break down any organic matter in a short period of time. It’s very hard on PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes. The substance generates a lot of heat, which can make the material soften, melt or warp.
Hydrochloric acid can slowly degrade the quality of your fixtures. Unless you pour the contents very carefully into the drains, the chemical will gnaw at materials like porcelain and stainless steel. While the side-effect is not as hazardous as warping pipes, it will be an unpleasant visual that can’t be easily fixed.
As if the worry of damaging your pipes and fixtures is not enough, another sensible reason to avoid harsh chemical cleaners is that they are bad for the environment. They can contaminate landfills and water sources.
As an environmentally-friendly alternative, there are enzymatic drain cleaners that use concentrated enzymes and bacteria cultures to break down build-up inside of pipes. Since they don’t use corrosive chemicals, they will not be as quick or impactful as other products. They aren’t designed to dissolve clogs in an afternoon — they’re designed for routine cleaning to combat slow and smelly drains.
If your drain smells foul or works slowly, we have an eco-friendly drain maintenance program that can clear away persistent odour and build-up.
Do A Natural Cleanse
Instead of a harsh store-bought cleaner, you can improve slow-moving drains or combat clogs with ingredients that are already available in your kitchen. A popular cleaning method is pouring vinegar and baking soda down the problematic drain and leaving them alone for twenty minutes to clear out the build-up. After you’ve let the two ingredients sit, pour a kettle of hot water into the drain.
It’s important to know that this combination will not solve a stubborn clog. The fizzing combination of baking soda and vinegar may sound effective, but it won’t dissolve items like food scraps, grease or strands of hair.
The method is best used for clog prevention. Vinegar is known for its general disinfecting and odour-eliminating capabilities. Pouring it down the drain with baking soda can eliminate some of the clinging bacteria that make your drain smell bad. Following the ingredients with hot water will rinse away some of the debris caught in the drain. Cold water won’t remove items that have congealed to the sides.
Any clogs made from grease or fats will need an alternative natural remedy to get the water draining properly: hot water and liquid dish soap. Dishwashing detergent and liquid dish soaps contain surfactants, which make it easier to wash away fats and oils. These are the same ingredients that environmental activists use to clean animals caught in oil spills found in bodies of water. If it can handle crude oil, it can definitely make progress with butter or bacon grease.
The method is easy to practice. Grab your bottle of dish soap sitting by the sink and pour some drops into the basin. Turn on the hot water tap until the suds go down the drain, moving the grease, fats and oils down with it.
Use A Plunger
Plungers will be your most useful DIY plumbing tool at home. It is ideal for clogs where water is standing still or draining at a very slow pace.
In Drain Cleaning 101, you need to know that there are two kinds of plungers that you should have stored away in your supply closet: a sink plunger and a toilet plunger. Having separate plungers is important for sanitary reasons — the toilet plunger should not be touching any surfaces in your kitchen. It’s also important because the types of plungers are customized to be effective with certain fixtures:
- A sink plunger has a flat bottom to fit over the flat drain
- A toilet plunger has a protruding flange to fit in the descending drain
Place the plunger directly over the drain so that the rubber cup forms a tight seal. Use both of your hands to pump the handle up and down in steady thrusts, until the water makes its way down the drain. If you work at the task for several minutes and nothing seems to be changing, you should call the drain cleaning experts in Toronto and the GTA to tend to the problem as soon as possible.
Snake The Drain
When it comes to shower and tub drain clogs, a hot water rinse won’t be enough. Unless you’ve used a diligently drain catcher, you will have a clog of matted hair strands and soap scum. The best way to get the tangle out of the plumbing is to catch it with a drain snake and pull it out of the drain.
If you want to be handy, you can purchase a drain snake/auger at a hardware store. The price of the tool depends on its size and difficulty. A thin stick will cost under $10. A handheld drain snake will be around $20. Automatic drill augers will be much more expensive. To avoid any DIY disasters, go with the straightforward choice of a stick drain cleaning tool or a handheld drain snake.
The first step to clearing this drain is removing the cover to get a better entrance. If there is a grated cover, carefully unscrew it and set the pieces aside for when you’re done. Slowly lower the end of the snake down the drain, until you feel some resistance — rotate the handle so that the tip of the tool snags onto the hair clog. Gently withdraw the snake, pull off the contents and put them in the wastebasket.
When you’ve finished clearing the clog, do a natural rinse of vinegar and hot water. This will tackle the bacteria and lingering odour. Then, put the cover back over the drain. Purchase a drain catcher to get loose hair and other obstructions that can drift down there. It’s an affordable device that will save you from doing this messy job.
Be aware that drain snaking is not a pleasant business. Prepare yourself to be repulsed by the strong odour or the look of wet clumps of scum covered hair. If this seems too nauseating for a weekend chore, call us to do it for you — we can snake any clogged drain in Toronto or the GTA to get it working back to normal.
When All Else Fails, Call The Pros
Now you know how to rinse out a slow-moving sink drain, plunge a toilet drain and snake a shower drain, but you still won’t be able to fix every single clog you encounter. There are some situations that DIY can’t manage.
For instance, when you notice that you’re having trouble with several drains around the house, you should call up a plumber. Frequent clogs in multiple drains could be a sign that your home has a sewer drain clog that can’t be budged with a plunger or natural rinse. An expert will need to run a camera investigation to confirm the location of the obstruction and remove it using professional equipment.
Stubborn clogs could also point to a break or leak. A video camera investigation will locate common disruptions like root intrusion, corrosion or cracks. Once we find the problem area, we can repipe old and damaged drains so that your fixtures and appliances run properly again. Sometimes a slow-drain or a clog is not the issue — it’s the symptom of a bigger problem in the plumbing system.
Explore the website to find more handy tips for unblocking your drains and preventing any clogs from forming. If you’ve called up a plumber to clear out a blocked drain, don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Who knows? The answer to your question could save you a lot of plumbing trouble down the line.
The most important thing you should remember about clogs and slow-drains is to deal with them as soon as you can. Ignoring them won’t do you any good. If anything, they will build up in size and be much harder to clear when you finally try. The moment your drain acts up, grab your cleaning tools.