How to Unclog a Drain and Prevent Drain Clog

Piper Plumbing » How to Unclog a Drain

Too many people are caught with a situation where their drains are clogged. It’s an incredibly common problem for millions of people each month and here’s why:

  • Primary causes of a clogged sink drain: Foreign objects (use a drain plug), hair, soap, grease, food, and dirt
  • Top reasons your toilet is clogged: diaper wipes, paper towel, foreign objects, toys (kids) and human waste
  • Top reasons your shower drain is clogged: soap, mineral deposits, trash, and especially hair
Sink Repair Los Angeles

If you’ve got small kids we all know they make moves in the blink of an eye. It’s not unusual for families with small children to call and ask how to unclog a drain after their child has put something down the drain. If it’s freely available to get dropped down chances are we’ve found it down the drain.

How to Unclog a Drain Do It Yourself Methods

We’ve heard of a lot of really crazy methods to unclog drains over the years but we definitely have some recommendations on how to approach unclogging your drain. Wearing appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is highly recommended such as eye, face mask, and gloves. Coming into contact with mold, waste products, dangerous chemicals, or bacteria can make your day miserable real fast. Pink eye is also the last thing anyone wants. 

  • Drain Clog Remover: You can generally find these plastic barbed wants for $5-10 from most hardware stores that’s great for clogged tubs, showers, and sinks. You simply pull up the drain plug, insert the drain clog remover tool until most of the barbs are below the surface, turn the drain tool around slowly to catch anything below (especially hair notorious for clogging sinks), and pull out the tool fairly slow to bring the detritus to the surface. Be warned, this often really stinks so your mask if you have one might be a welcome addition. Remove the debris before repeating the process a couple times, and when done run the water with soap to eliminate any nasty lingering odours in the formerly clogged drain. 

How to Unclog a Drain Using a Snake

If you’ve got a persistent drain clog that seems to be shifting but just is still very much there you might want to use a snake to unclog your drain. 

  1. Insert the snake into the drain and rotate the drum handle allowing the auger to move slowly down the drain. We recommend having a plastic bag ready to put hair etc into as it comes out.
  2. Keep pushing the drain snake all the way down until you find yourself pushing against some resistance but not you’ll more than likely encounter some pipe curves so give it a little extra push. It can be a little tricky for first timers but persistence here is key.
  3. Keep turning the snake through the pipe and you should notice it breaking up debris as it moves down through to the pipe clog. If you’re not feeling anything retract the snake slowly pulling up on the auger out of the drain pipe. Half the time the pipe clog will latch onto the auger.
  4. After the above steps you’ll want to run a generous amount of hot water to break up any remaining debris and use some soap to eliminate those persistent odors that often come. 

How to Unclog a Sink Using a Shop Vac

Believe it or not you can remove debris with a wet-dry shop vacuum. Before considering this method make sure your shop vacuum is designed to suck up water. Household vacuums are definitely not appropriate for this. 

  1. If you’ve got standing water in your clogged sink that just will not drain the shop vac can be a great solution. After you’ve verified your shop vac is rated for water make sure the sink is clear. You don’t want to then clog your vacuum while trying to unclog your sink.
  2. Once the sink is clear of any spoons or other everyday items hold the nossle firmly against the top of the drain with the end of the vacuum hose.
  3. Activate the vacuum and allow it to suck up anything in the drain. We’ve seen everything from spoons to aquarium gravel poured down the sink clogging the drain.
  4. Once the drain clog is clear add generous amounts of hot water and soap.  

When to Call a Plumber to Unclog Your Drain

If the above methods don’t seem like a fit or you’re in a rush no problem we’re here to help. The problem might be even larger than you thought and the problem you thought you had might not even be what you think it is. Here’s some examples of what you really should give Piper Plumbing a call:

  • Standing Waters Increasing – If you can’t get the water to go down the last thing you want to do is have disgusting drain water get into your home when it overflows. Water damage to homes is no joke and causes billions in damage every year. 
  • Persistently slow drain – some aggressive drain clogs frankly just need more aggressive tools. If you’ve gone to the trouble of removing a partial clog and it’s still just not draining fast enough you’ll want to call a licensed plumber to promptly remove the drain clog. 
  • The clogged drain returns – if you find yourself in a situation where your sink is returning it’s a good sign of a deeper problem literally. You might try to fix it again but chances are a plumber has the right tools to get it done completely the first time. 

Our drain cleaning services will have you back up and running fast.

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