We’ve all experienced that feeling of dread when you use your sink and the water keeps rising and rising and rising instead of draining.
Or you flush the toilet, and nothing happens.
While serious issues should be addressed by professional plumbers, there are ways you can try and clear the blockage yourself.
Plus, you can easily avoid clogs and obstructions by regularly maintaining your drains and plumbing.
Whether your shower drain is clogged or your toilet won’t flush, here are some drain cleaning techniques from the experts at Peak Sewer:
Signs and Causes of a Clogged Drain
Before you jump into draining cleaning techniques, it’s best to find out if you are actually dealing with a clogged drain and not another issue!
Here are some sure signs that your drain is clogged:
- Your toilet bubbles.
- Water backs up into your shower, bathtub, or sink.
- Water drains slowly in your sink, shower, or bathtub.
- You notice a weird or foul smell coming from your drain.
- There are puddles of water near your bathtub, shower, toilet, sink, or washing machine.
Drain clogs can be caused by a number of things, including:
The build-up of grease and food particles in your kitchen sink, hair in your bathroom drains, and flushing items down the toilet that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet.
How to Clear a Clogged Drain
If your sinks are draining slowly or you’re wading around in your shower, it’s time to clear away the clogs that are blocking your pipes.
Here are some ways you can clear a clogged drain before calling in a professional plumber:
Baking Soda and Vinegar
While this has been touted as a miracle fix for clogged drains, it doesn’t work for every situation – especially clogs caused by fat, oil, and grease.
However, it may be effective for less severe clogs.
Begin by pouring hot water down your drain, followed by equal parts vinegar and baking soda. Cover the drain for 20-30 minutes.
Finish up by pouring more hot water down the drain.
The chemical reaction created by the baking soda and vinegar applies pressure to the clog and eats away at the obstruction. In some cases, this may be enough to break down the clog and clear the pipe.
You can also try a salt, borax, and vinegar solution by pouring ¼ cup of salt down your drain, followed by ¼ cup of borax. Add in ½ cup of vinegar and hot water and leave for one hour.
Clothes Hanger or Drain Snake
For obstructions that can’t be broken down by a chemical reaction, you can try using a straightened clothes hanger (leave a little hook on the end) or a drain snake to remove the clog.
Insert into the pipe and move around to “hook” onto the clog to pull it out of the pipe.
You can easily buy a drain snake at your local department or hardware store designed to go further down your pipe.
In a pinch, you can try using your toilet plunger to release clogs from your drain pipes.
Give it a good clean before using it on your sink, and simply plunge the drain hole as you would your toilet.
Here are some tips for unclogging your drains using a plunger:
- When trying to unclog a double sink, be sure to seal off the second side to avoid a fountain of water and gunk.
- If your sink has a higher drain hole, cover this too.
- Ensure there is a tight seal around the plunger and fill up the sink with enough water to cover the plunger’s bell.
- Use sharp, quick plunges to clear the clog.
If you have a wet and dry vacuum, you can try to suck the clog out. Remember to set your vacuum to “wet” before trying this!
Create a tight seal around the drain with the vacuum hose and extend the vacuum arm. Turn on the vacuum to remove the obstruction.
Drain Steam Cleaning
What Products Do I Need for Drain Cleaning, Clearing & Maintenance?
If your drain is clogged, you may be tempted to grab a commercial drain cleaner to get the job done.
However, drain cleaners are toxic and can have adverse effects on your plumbing system and health.
Not all drain cleaners are created equally, and some rely on caustic chemical solutions to dissolve the obstructions in your pipes, which can lead to damage to PVC pipes and corrosion to older pipes.
They can also cause severe damage to your septic system by throwing off the balance of natural bacteria in your tank necessary for breaking down sewage.
So, other than the drain cleaning techniques mentioned above, what products are safe to clean your drain?
When natural drain clearing remedies do not work, we recommend the following safe and effective products:
- Unique Natural’s Super Digest-It Safe Drain Opener: This product uses a bacteria concentrate to safely clear obstructions without damaging pipes, toilets, and septic tanks.
- Biokleen Bac-Out Drain Care: This product treats slow drains and prevents clogs by combining natural live cultures, enzymes, and plant extracts.
- Earthworm Family-Safe Drain Cleaner: Using only water and enzymes, this drain cleaner breaks down organic material to clear away clogs.
- DrainOut Drain Freshener and Clog Preventer: This eco-friendly product also uses enzymes to safely clear drains.
Not only can these products help you remove obstructions from your pipes, but they can also be used regularly to prevent clogs!
What Tools Do I Need for Drain Cleaning, Clearing & Maintenance?
It’s always a good idea to have the right tools on hand should your drain become clogged!
Here are some essential tools you can use to clean, clear, and maintain your drains:
Most homes have a plunger for the toilet, but, as we mentioned above, this can also be used to clear away clogs in your sinks and bathtub/shower.
Keep one handy in your home! You should have two available: one for your toilet and one for other drains.
A cable auger, or drain snake, is a long, flexible steel cable fitted with a hand crank that can be used to dislodge clogs further down the drainpipe.
This type of auger is perfect if your tub, sink, or shower drain is clogged.
Closet augers are specifically designed for toilets. The end of the auger is bent at the perfect angle to fit through the curves of the toilet trap.
Drain Maintenance Tips
You can easily avoid everyday drainage problems by regularly cleaning and clearing your drains.
While this won’t 100% guarantee that you’ll never experience a clog, regular maintenance will help you prevent unwanted obstructions.
Run Hot Water At Least Once a Week
Hot water is a great way to break up grease that has accumulated along your pipes. To help keep grease from creating a clog, run hot water through your drains at least once a week.
However, if you use a garbage disposal, avoid clearing the drain with hot water – this can cause the grease to melt and coat the inside of the pipes.
Instead, use cold water to keep the grease in its solid form so it will break down and move through your drains easily.
Be Careful What You Put Down Your Drains
When it comes to disposing of grease, you have to be very careful not to pour it down your kitchen drain.
To properly dispose of grease and cooking oil, pour it into a can or jar to cool and throw it in the garbage when it is full.
Avoid Flushing Unflushable Items
In the bathroom, be mindful of what you flush down the toilet. There are things that should never be disposed of in your toilet as they can lead to clogs and sewage backups.
These items include:
- Baby wipes
- Paper towel
- Facial tissue
- Menstrual products
- Dental floss
- Cat litter
- Cooking grease
- Pets (seriously!)
Only toilet paper should be flushed down your toilet in order to properly maintain your pipes and avoid clogs.
Use a Drain Trap
Even when you are careful about what you dispose of down your drains, other substances such as soap scum, crumbs, and hair can make their way to your pipes and cause clogs.
Place a drain trap over your sink and tub opening to prevent clogs and blockages. Anything nonliquid that shouldn’t go down your drain will sit in the trap and can then be tossed into the garbage.
Clean Your Drains Regularly
Prevention and regular maintenance are the best way to ensure that your drains do not get clogged!
Apart from running your hot water every week and using safe drain products, you can also use the baking soda and vinegar method to regularly keep your drains clear.
In the kitchen, prevent built-up grease and oil by pouring a tablespoon of dish liquid into the drain followed by hot water.
When to Hire a Pro
Of course, there are times when your drain cleaning and maintenance efforts require the assistance of a professional plumber.
Ignoring your drainage issues can lead to expensive issues down the road, so it is best to contact the professionals as soon as possible.
Here are some instances where you should definitely hire a pro for drain cleaning in Edmonton:
When DIY Fixes Don’t Work
You’ve tried the vinegar and baking soda. Safe drain products aren’t working. The auger isn’t getting the job done.
While DIY fixes are great for more minor clogs, they are often not strong enough to clear out tough obstructions.
When your home remedies and efforts don’t work, it’s time to call in the professionals.
When You Don’t Have the Right Tools
Most homeowners have a plunger in their home, but how many have augers and other specialized tools?
Drain cleaning professionals have access to specialized tools such as different-sized plungers, longer augers, and different styled snakes for different needs – even ones with cameras!
Professional plumbers, such as our team at Peak Sewer, have the tools and know-how to help clear out stubborn clogs before they become expensive problems.
When Commercial Products Don’t Work
Most safe commercial products, such as the ones we mentioned earlier, are oftentimes ineffective against tough clogs.
Even if they can break through the obstruction, they don’t always clear the clog entirely.
And, yes, chemical drain cleaners are likely to get the job done, but even our professional plumbers view them as an absolute last resort due to the damage they can cause to your pipes.
Instead, we use the specialized tools we have available to clear out the clogs in your drain without risking damage to your pipes.
When You Don’t Know What’s Clogging Your Drain
There’s no way to know what is clogging your drain unless you know what was disposed of prior to the blockage.
Knowing what caused the blockage is essential in determining how to approach the situation.
Our professional plumbers can use special snaking tools with cameras to properly assess the situation and even locate lost items that accidentally made their way down your drain!
When There is a Bigger Problem
We talked about the typical causes of clogged drains, but sometimes a drain that is clogged can be the symptoms of a larger issue, such as a blocked sewer line.
Simultaneous clogs or backed-up drains in low-lying areas of your home can indicate a severe issue in your plumbing system and drainage lines.
If you are experiencing any of these signs, turn off any running water and the water supply to your home before calling in a professional plumber.
Drain Clearing Edmonton – Contact the Industry Leaders!
Peak Sewer’s honest, friendly, and knowledgeable staff brings years of experience to each job, big and small!
We offer 24/7 emergency services for sewer and drainage issues.
If you have a clogged drain or other plumbing issues, don’t wait! Contact the technicians at Peak Sewer today!