Clogged drains can be a nuisance. And if left untreated, that minor nuisance can turn into an expensive repair.
A number of different things can cause drains to clog. Food particles, hair, grease, soap residue, oil and even a foreign object lodged in the drain can each cause a drain to clog. Before you have to call a plumber, there are steps to take that may get water flowing once more.
Bubbles Galore Baking soda has many uses in the home. This versatile product can be used dislodge items in drains. It is better to try baking soda when clogs are minor and water drainage is sluggish rather than waiting for the clog to get so bad that water is impenetrable.
When baking soda and common household vinegar are mixed together, they form a new chemical called carbonic acid. This acid immediately begins to degrade into carbon dioxide gas, which produces foam and bubbles in the process. This bubbling action can upset the source of a clog in a pipe and dislodge particles that may be causing the water backup. Keep your face away from the drain as the smell of vinegar mixing with the baking soda may be unpleasant.
Baking soda also can be mixed with salt and boiling water to break down grease that may be clogging drains. Repeatedly washing this mixture down drains can gently scour pipes and keep water moving steadily.
Plunge ahead If a clog is especially stubborn, you may need to use a plunger. A plunger works by forcing the energy you push on the plunger into the surrounding water, which then applies pressure against the clog. Repeatedly forcing water against a clog can move it along until it frees up the drain. Plunging can be messy, so wear old clothes when plunging. Make sure the head of the plunger is filled with water; otherwise, your work will be for naught. You may want to keep a separate plunger handy for sink work so you are not transferring bacteria and waste from a toilet plunger into the sink, especially in the kitchen.
Pop and fizz Colas are loaded with phosphoric acid, which is more acidic than lemon juice and is also corrosive. This acid will fizz in the drain and break through any greasy, stubborn residue. It's even effective at dissolving calcium deposits, which may be a byproduct of hard water.
Snake it Some clogs are more stubborn and require some extra elbow grease to fix. A pipe snake can push hair and other debris through the pipes until water can run free. They also can be used to pull the obstacle back up out of the drain. While there are snakes of various lengths, sometimes a small one that makes it just to the bend of the elbow trap can be sufficient. A snake is essentially a flexible piece of wire that is inserted in the pipe. It may have a coarse or wound end to ensnare a clog.
Call a plumber Unless you feel confident taking pipes apart to check for and clear out clogs and then reassembling everything, you may need to call a plumber if the clog will not relent. It may be lower in the system than at house level, especially if there are clogs in multiple sinks or appliances in the home.
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