When your drains are clogged, it may not seem like an immediate issue. But if you leave them for a while, you could end up with odors, pooling water, burst pipes, and other stressful and messy situations.

Mild clogs are often easy to clear on your own. Here are some tips to clear your outside or inside drains.

What Are the Types of Indoor and Outdoor Drains?

You have three main plumbing systems to transport water to and from your home. Potable water is the clean water that comes into your home for drinking and bathing. Sanitary drainage is the water that’s taken out of your home from your kitchen or bathroom sink and toilet. Storm drainage is the outdoor drain system for stormwater and weather-related drainage.

These drains can be clogged with regular use and items like:
  • Animal fat, oil, and grease
  • Soap
  • Hair
  • Food debris
  • Mineral buildup
  • Foreign objects
  • Tree roots, moss, leaves, and dirt

6 Ways to Keep Your Drains Clear

Major clogs or plumbing emergencies should be handled by professional plumbers, but you can address minor clogs or slow drains on your own. Here are some ways to clear your drains:

  1. Pour Boiling Water Down the Drain
  2. If your drain is slow and not fully clogged with standing water, boiling water may be enough to dissolve fats and oils that are taking up space in the pipes.

    Start by boiling about a half-gallon of water. When it’s ready, carefully pour it into your drain until it’s all gone. After that, run the tap with hot water for several minutes.

    Most household drains can handle boiling water but don’t use this method if you have PVC pipes. The high water temperature can be enough to melt the pipes, creating bigger issues.

  3. Use Dish Soap
  4. For minor clogs or slow drains from oil or grease buildup, dish soap can be enough to get the water flowing. Don’t go overboard with the soap, however. Just an ounce or two should be enough to clear your drain. If you use too much, you’ll create suds that won’t drain quickly, leading to more buildup.

  5. Use a DIY Method
  6. If you’re like most homeowners, chemical drain cleaners are the go-to for clearing slow or clogged drains. This method can be effective, but it comes at the cost of corroding your pipes. Drain cleaners are also highly caustic and can present health hazards.

    Fortunately, you can get the same results with baking soda, vinegar, and boiling water at home. Just mix one cup of each and pour it down the drain, followed by boiling water (unless you have PVC pipes). Give it some time to clear the drain.

  7. Try Drain Unclogging Tools
  8. If you’re not having luck with these remedies, a plastic drain-clearing tool can work for thick debris clogs. These tools are easy to find at your local hardware store and inexpensive. They’re usually available in 26-inch or 36-inch options.

    To use the tool, insert it into the drain as far as you can get it, then pull it out slowly. You may need to twist the tool slightly to capture the debris on the barb.

    Some people use a wire hanger in this way, but that’s not as safe as a plastic drain tool. You can damage your pipe if you go poking around blind, or worse, you could end up with the hanger stuck in your pipes.

  9. Take Apart the P Trap
  10. If your clog is more serious and you can’t get it with the plastic drain cleaner, it may be deeper than the tool reaches. If you’re comfortable with minor plumbing tasks and can reach the P trap, you can take it apart to see if there’s a clog.

    Begin by placing a bucket under the P trap. Loosen the plastic nuts that hold the trap together with large tongue and groove pliers or a dry cloth rag. Remove the trap’s elbow and check for debris that may be causing the clog.

    If you can access it, clean it out and reassemble the pipe. After everything is put together, test the drain to see if it flows freely.

  11. Try Plunging
  12. Plungers are good for removing clogs by breaking them up with a suction action. You do need to prep your sink or tub before plunging, however.

    For bath sinks, take out the stopper with pliers and remove the stopper lever nut. Once you remove the sink drain stopper, replace the lever and nut and plug the overflow drain hole with a cloth rag.

    For a double-basin sink, block one of the drains with a wet cloth rag to create a seal. Tubs have an overflow drain cover you have to remove, then plug the hole with a cloth rag.

    No matter what type of drain you have, you must run water until there’s an inch or two of water. Place the plunger over the drain and ensure the plunger lip sits flush on the bottom of the sink or tub. Move the plunger up and down firmly without breaking the seal to try to loosen the debris.

If you have a slow drain or tough clog, we can help! Contact us at JW Plumbing, Heating and Air to schedule your appointment!

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