Indoor plumbing is wonderful as long as your pipes flow smoothly. However, slow drains are quite common. If you continue to use the sink or tub in question, it will soon become completely clogged. Until you clear the blockage, your bathroom is useless.
You might instinctively reach for chemical drain cleaning products, but using such harsh products can damage your pipes over time. At the same time, you may hesitate to call a plumber. Fortunately, there are some alternative drain cleaning tips you can try besides chemical cleaners. These tips work for most ordinary clogs.
- Remove gunk at the surface of the drain: You can do this by hand or with a straightened metal coat hanger with a small hook on the end. You’d be surprised at how much nasty stuff accumulates right where you can reach it.
- Empty the trap: Most sinks have an exposed “trap” below the basin. This u-shaped pipe is a common spot for clogs to develop. Place a bucket beneath the trap and remove this section of plumbing with a wrench. Empty the contents into the bucket, rinse it out with a garden hose and reinstall it.
- Melt the clog with boiling water: Boil a gallon of water and pour it slowly down the drain. If the blockage is comprised of grease and soap scum, it should melt away.
- Dissolve the blockage with baking soda and vinegar: If boiling water alone doesn’t do the trick, give it some extra power with baking soda and vinegar. First, pour one-third cup baking soda into the sink and wash it down with one-third cup vinegar. The chemical reaction produces fizzing that helps dissolve clogs. Let the concoction sit for at least one hour, and then flush the drain with boiling water.
- Force the clog out with a plunger: Block the overflow hole with a damp rag. Rub petroleum jelly on the plunger’s rim to create a tight seal, and then start plunging. Use forceful thrusting motions for a minute or two. Finally, turn on the hot water to see if the sink or tub will now drain.
- Suck up the obstruction with a wet/dry shop vacuum: To maximize suction, block the overflow hole with a damp rag and use a rubber attachment on the vacuum. You may need to modify an old plunger to do this. Use the highest suction setting to pull the clog out of the pipe and into the vacuum bag.
- Break up the blockage with a plumbing snake: Feed the metal cable into the drain until it hits the obstruction. Then, turn the handle to hook the clog. Twist the clog around to break it up. Remove the snake from the sink, and flush it out with hot water.