First, block the overflow holes with wet rags. Overflow holes are drains in adjacent sinks. Also, remove the pop-up drain plug.
If you donít have any water in your basin you will want to add three or four inches of water to help flush out the clog once the plunger has loosened it.
Next, try using a thick layer of petroleum jelly around the rim of the plunger. This will help create a tighter seal and produce greater suction.
Then force the plunger-handle down powerfully several times. After plunging for a minute or two, quickly yank the plunger off. Then stop to test whether the water will drain from the sink. Repeat this four or five times, or until the clog is cleared. Then when the drain is clear, run hot water to flush away any remaining particles from the clog.
If the clog remains, remove the trap below the sink and snake out the drain line with a cable auger.
With a few quick tips and a little upper body strength you wonít have to worry about harsh chemicals or calling out the plumber.
NEVER USE THIS METHOD AFTER ANY COMMERCIAL DRAIN OPENER HAS BEEN USED OR IS STILL PRESENT IN THE STANDING WATER.
More Plunger Information!
If all other sink and toilet drains are open the blockage is probably local.
1. Check the stopper for accumulations of hair, soap and other foreign material. If a plain rubber stopper is used the accumulation is probably on the grate in the drainpipe just below the stopper.
2. Some mechanical stoppers can just be pulled out, others can be lifted, turned and raised, still others require disassembling the unit. Take the stopper out and remove all hair and foreign material.
3. If the stopper will not come out you have a more difficult problem. Remove the trap below the sink as described in Step 4. Also remove as much of the pipe to the bowl as possible. Now with a wire with a short hook, clean the hair out by working both from below and above the sink.
4. After the bowl drain is free, remove the bottom of the trap below the lavatory by turning the two large nuts. The nuts are on the pipes to so turn them counter-clockwise as you look at them from the pipes. Remember to put a bucket under the trap to catch the water, which accumulates in the trap. Clean out the trap with hot soapy water.
5. Insert a plumber's "spring snake" into the drain pipe and turn it as it goes into the pipe. There is usually a hook on the tip which will catch on whatever is in the pipe. If and when you feel it catch, pull it back out. Do not try to push it through. Usually a plumbing fixture is within 5 or 6 feet from a vertical pipe so if the snake goes through to this pipe you can feel it on the snake and the system should drain.
To make minor repairs, the following inexpensive tools should be available.
- As we mentioned first on the list is the plunger
- Adjustable wrench
- Plumber's "spring snake" (auger)
For drains that are hard to negotiate you will need:
1/8" diameter stainless steel cable. Twisted strands, not braided.
Needle Nose Pliers
When the drain has sharp turns that are too tight for a plumbers snake (i.e., some bathtub drains), simply bend several individual wires (not strands) out in different directions from the center of the cable so that when rotated the strands will snag hair in clogged drain.
Fish cable as you would a plumbers snake twisting as you push gently to advance into and around elbows, etc.
When you feel the clog, just twist the cable until you feel some resistance and withdraw slowly to extract hair.
Repeat until the big wad comes out, maybe two or three times.
To avoid clogged drains in the future:
Use a drain strainer to trap food particles and hair;
Collect grease in cans rather than pouring it down the drain;
Pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain weekly to melt fat that may be building up in the drain; or weekly put some vinegar and baking soda down your drain to break down fat and keep your drain smelling fresh.
For grease buildup, dissolve 1 lb washing soda in 3 gal boiling water and pour down drain. To avoid burns from boiling water, hold water container close to drain and pour slowly and directly into drain. For heavy grease buildup, use a commercial drain opener. Exercise extreme caution when using and follow label instructions exactly. (Commercial drain openers can also be used to clear hair buildup from bathroom drains.)
Baking Soda and Vinegar. Pour 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Add 1/2 cup white vinegar and cover the drain if possible. Let set for a few minutes, then pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to flush it. The combination of baking soda and vinegar can break down fatty acids into soap and glycerin, allowing the clog to wash down the drain. DO NOT USE THIS METHOD AFTER ANY COMMERCIAL DRAIN OPENER HAS BEEN USED OR IS STILL PRESENT IN THE STANDING WATER.
Salt and Baking Soda. Pour 1/2 cup salt and 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain. Follow with 6 cups boiling water. Let sit overnight
and then flush with water. The hot water should help dissolve the clog and the baking soda and salt serve as an abrasive to break through the clog.
Mechanical Snake (and Garden Hose). A flexible metal snake can be purchased or rented. It is threaded down the clogged drain and manually pushes the clog away. If used in conjunction with a running garden hose, it can even clear a blockage in the main drain to the street. First crank the snake and feed it into the pipe. Next withdraw the snake and flush the pipe by inserting a garden hose with the water turned on full.
We hope these Quick Tips help with you drainage problems!