Tips & Tricks for Dealing with Plumbing Clogs at Home

Your kitchen and bathroom sinks do a great deal of work around your home. However, when they get clogged or not running at their optimum, you notice right away. Typically, clogs happen because of built-up debris in your pipes. These particles can include everything from crumbs or hair to dirt, grime or grease.

Although stores sell a variety of different chemicals that can clear your drain or toilet, these strong substances can cause damage to the pipes. Additionally, they may not clear the pathway, but rather move the clog further down the pipe. This can eventually create a larger backup over time.

While you can achieve some success with the chemical approach, sometimes it is only a temporary fix or doesn’t work at all. Unfortunately, you’re left with plumbing pipes with harmful pollutants.

If all of this sounds all too familiar, there are other means at your disposal for removing drain clogs without harsh chemicals. Not only do these methods work well, but they also help to prevent them from forming in the future.

Boiling water

Try attacking your clog with boiling water. Hot water alone won't do it since boiling water is the key to dissolving any organic matter. Boil three or four cups of water and then mix a cup of baking soda in it. Pour the solution down the pipes and allow a few minutes for it to work.

Vinegar and baking soda

When boiling water alone won't clear a sink, you can try using vinegar and baking soda. Pour half a box of baking soda down your drain and then pour half a cup of vinegar down the sink and then stop up the drain with a metal stopper. This combination produces the "volcano" effect you often see in school projects. Wait 30 minutes before pouring boiling water down the drain.

Plunger or hand plunger

When your toilet doesn't flush due to a clog, there is typically a blockage due to a large amount of toilet tissue. If your sink is completely plugged and becomes so clogged no liquid will flow through, both of these situations may require a plunger. First, you want to make sure you have the right kind of plunger, one that is cup-shaped, not flanged.

Remove any metal strainers in your kitchen sink or metal stopper in your bathroom sink. Fill the sink halfway full with water, then place the plunger over the drain and make sure you have a firm seal. Use sharp, fast plunges to remove the clog. Check periodically to see if the sink is draining. You may have to repeat a few times before it finally clears.

For a clogged toilet, you’ll similarly operate the plunger. Place the plunger over the toilet opening. With sharp, fast plunges in the opening, continue until the clog releases and the water goes down the toilet.

Small hand-operated drain snake

If the plunger route does not work, it’s time for an auger or snake. These handheld drain snakes are available from hardware supply stores. They use a long, spring steel wire to "snake" into drains. Once up against a clog, they can be twisted to catch and remove debris. The steel wire design allows them to bend around most pipes.

Be Prepared

While these home techniques can be effective in removing sink clogs, consider hiring a plumber if you encounter anything unexpected other than the ordinary clogs. Large plumbing problems require professional expertise so that they can resolve it properly without any further damage to your plumbing systems.