It’s easy to take indoor plumbing for granted – until a pipe clogs and your sink no longer drains properly. When you’re faced with a clogged drain, your first instinct might be to reach for a bottle of chemical drain opener. However, this harsh product can eat through your pipes with repeated use.
Fortunately, there are safer ways to treat a clogged drain. All you need are a few inexpensive tools, and you should be able to clear the clog without help from a plumber.
Check Several Plumbing Fixtures
It’s possible for hair, food scraps, soap scum and other debris to clog a single bathtub or sink. But just to be sure, check other drains as well. If they are also clogged, this could mean the main sewer drain is clogged, or your septic tank is not functioning properly.
If you have multiple clogged drains, call a plumbing professional to diagnose the source of the problem. If only one drain is clogged, move on to the next steps.
Try to Clear the Clogged Drain Yourself
Every homeowner should have a few basic drain-clearing tools at their disposal. You can find these at your local hardware or home improvement store. Attempt to clear the clog with these tips:
- Check the sink trap: Kitchen and bathroom sinks feature a curved pipe that continually holds water to keep sewer gases from seeping into your home. This is called a trap, and blockages often occur here. Unscrew this section of pipe and dump the contents into a bucket. Reattach the trap and see if the sink drains better now.
- Plunge the drain: Plungers are useful for more than unclogging toilets – they also work with most tubs and sinks as well. If the drain has a pop-up stopper, remove it. Then, stuff a wet rag into the overflow drain. Rub petroleum jelly along the lip of the plunger. Run water into the sink and plunge firmly up and down several times in a row. Lift the plunger, see if the water is draining freely, and repeat as necessary.
- Use a cable auger: Also called a plumbing snake, this long, flexible steel cable is useful for clearing clogs further down the pipe. Remove the stopper from the sink and feed the cable down the drain until you reach the clog. Rotate the auger using the attached hand crank to help it loosen the obstruction. Then, continue feeding the cable as far as it will go. Once you think you’ve cleared the clog, wind the cable back up and dispose of any debris it retrieved.
Call a Plumber
If your attempts to clear a clogged drain prove fruitless, contact A-1 Septic Tank Service online or call us at (510) 886-4455 to schedule drain cleaning, septic tank pumping or other waste disposal services for your home or business.