DIY Guide on How to Unclog Drains

Unclogging a toilet is easy, but what about sinks and showers? Sometimes you’ll want a landlord or plumber’s help, but you can also do it yourself with a few inexpensive tricks. Here’s a DIY guide on how to unclog your drains.

Check the garbage disposal

One of the most common causes of a blocked kitchen drain is a clogged garbage disposal if your sink has one. If all you hear is a low humming sound when you turn on on your garbage disposal, it’s most likely jammed. 

To unclog your garbage disposal, first, turn it off and unplug the unit. Next, insert an Allen wrench into the hole located on the bottom of the disposal. If it remains silent after being turned on, a tripped internal breaker might be the cause. Give the unit a minute to cool down, then, press the reset button located on the bottom of the unit. Your disposal should be functioning correctly.

Of course, not every sink has a garbage disposal despite their increasing prevalence, so you can always take the below steps to unclog other sinks.

Don’t use chemical drain cleaners. Their caustic ingredients are not environment friendly. Additionally, plumbers advise against using chemical drain cleaner products found in stores because their strong chemicals can damage your pipes. 

DIY Guide on How to Unclog Drains

Use a homemade drain cleaner

Instead, remove standing water from your sink. Pour about one cup of baking soda into the drain. Next, pour an equal amount of white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. Your homemade drain cleaner will bubble, and then the mixture will subside. Put a drain stopper in the drain and wait about 15 minutes. Lastly, run hot water down the drain so the sink’s blockage clears. Repeat if needed.

Use a sink plunger

In many cases, simply using a small sink plunger is an effective way to unclog a drain. To use a sink plunger, you’ll need to remove your sink stopper. Most stoppers will come out easily when you pull up and turn the stopper to the left. Put the stopper somewhere safe once you remove it.

Add about one inch of water to covers the drain – not nearly enough to be full of water. Place the plunger over the drain and apply force to create a strong seal. Plunge the sink for about 15 seconds. If you’ve done it right, the sink’s blockage should be cleared along with the water. If you want to inspect the drain, use a flashlight to see if a clog is visible. Add your sink stopper when finished. 

Disassemble and clean the drain trap with an auger

For this method, first, place a bucket under your drain trap to catch the water that will come out once the trap is removed. Then, use tongue-and-groove pliers or a pipe wrench to loosen the slip nuts at each end of the trap. Next, remove the slip-nuts and the trap. 

Dump the water in the trap into the bucket. Then, insert an auger cable into the horizontal section of the drainpipe, tighten the setscrew, and crank the cable. If the cable’s end gets stuck at a pipe bend, crank the auger and apply pressure. Work the cable into the drain until you feel you’ve worked through the clog, then remove the cable. Reassemble the drain trap and flush the drain with hot water from the faucet to clear any remaining debris.

Use a drain snake

You can find inexpensive drain snakes at most department stores, so they make for budget-friendly draining options. Push the snake’s end into the drain and turn the handle on the drum that contains the coiled-up snake. Continue to push more of the drain snake into the drain until you feel the clog. Rotate the snake against the sink blockage until you feel less resistance. Run hot water for a few minutes, and the drain should unclog.

Keep your sink unclogged

Maintain unclogged drains with a clean sink and save some money with a few simple steps. For example, use a kitchen sink strainer and drain stopper to prevent debris from entering the drainpipe. When using the kitchen sink, run cold water while the garbage disposal is in use. After using the garbage disposal, leave the water running for a full minute to ensure there are no blockages. Whether you’re using your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, or shower, it’s best practice to run hot water from the tap after using it to help keep the drain clear. 

What tips do you have for unclogging drains without help? Sound off in the comments!

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