Many money conscious homeowners are trying to find ways to attend to home maintenance and minor repairs on their own, rather than spending hard earned money to have the jobs done by a professional. Some jobs, for example, plumbing repair, are best left to someone with training and experience to avoid costly mistakes. There are, however, plumbing tasks like unclogging drains, that can be do-it-yourself projects without disastrous results.
Clogged drains are a recurring and common problem. As a matter of fact, many plumbing businesses dedicate most of their time to clearing drains. With a little knowledge and some common household tools, a clogged drain can be cleared and expensive fees eliminated. Many drains in a home can become clogged. They include, but are not limited to tub drains, bathroom and kitchen sink drains, and garbage disposal drains.
Tub Drains, Usually a Simple Fix
Not surprising, many of the blocked tub drains are the result of an accumulation of hair at the stopper. Although the first inclination may be to grab the plunger, it will most likely be ineffective. The hair is wrapped in there tightly. The stopper needs to be taken out to allow you to access and remove the hair. Your first need to know which type of drain is in your tub. Most likely it will be the trip lever near the overflow plate or the lift and turn type located at the actual drain.
The trip lever stopper has a rod in the overflow pipe that is attached to the stopper. Sometimes, the stopper is actually inside the pipe while at other times the stopper is in the drain and worked by the connecting rod. Before you take your drain apart, try to pull the problem hair out using needle nosed pliers. Hopefully, that will end you problem.
If this is ineffective, you need to remove the stopper. Depending on its location, you may need to take off the overflow plate to remove the rod and stopper, or remove it from the tub drain. After you have cleaned off any hair and sludge, you can test the drain to be sure the water runs freely. Then simply put the pieces back together.
The lift and turn drain, also called the tip-toe drain, has a stopper connected to the drain which must be removed to clear the clog. Simply unscrewing the drain will get you nowhere; you must apply a little upward tension by slightly lifting it as you unscrew. Again, long nose pliers will be effective for pulling out the offending hair and debris. Check your efforts and make sure everything drains correctly.
If these simple steps have not solved your clogged tub problem, you may want to consider a professional who can use a snake. This long tool fits in the drain and twists around, removing clogs beyond the reach of your pliers.
When faced with a clog in your bathroom sink, or lavatory, you should first try using a plunger designed specifically for a sink drain. A sink plunger is a smaller version of a toilet plunger, with a domed rubber piece fastened to the end of a sturdy stick. When plunging, if you do not plug the overflow of the sink, you will not be able to create the necessary suction. Put a wet washcloth in the overflow to create a seal. Run water into the sink, place the plunger over the drain, and move it firmly up and down. Don’t be overzealous. Some lavatories have pipes constructed of plastic, and if their connections are not snug enough, they could pull apart with the pressure of the plunging.
If plunging fails, you will need to remove the p-trap (the section of pipe under the sink designed to catch things that may have fallen down the drain), the trip lever (connected to the small handle you pull to plug the drain), and the stopper itself. Put a bowl or bucket under your trap when you remove it, as there may be standing water. Be cautious if you have metal pipes- unlike plastic ones, they can become fragile over time and break easily. Clean out all areas, reassemble, and try your drain.
If these measures don’t solve your problem, contact a local plumber who handles drain cleaning. You have done everything a layman can do and can hire someone with a clear conscience.