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Drain Cleaning 101: A Comprehensive Guide

Picture this: you turn on the faucet to rinse your fruits or veggies and after only a few seconds, water starts filling the bottom of the sink. You don’t pay it any mind and you go about your day. Then, as you wind down after a long day at work and head into the bathroom to brush your teeth before bed, you notice the same thing happening in that sink. Now you start paying attention to all of the sinks in the house because you’re beginning to think you’ve got a problem on your hands.

There’s never a good time for a dirty or clogged drain, but unfortunately it’s an inevitable part of owning a home or renting an apartment. Not all slow drains require the skill and expertise of a trained professional — there are lots of things you can try on your own, first. But if any, or all, of the below fail, it’s a good idea to call in a plumber before things get even worse.

How Do You Know If You Need Drain Cleaning?

Here are a few key signs to be on the lookout for:

  • Standing or slow-moving water in the shower, tub or sink.

  • A toilet that isn’t flushing or on that takes a long time to refill after a flush.

  • Unpleasant odors coming from the drain.

DIY Drain Clog Procedure 1

It’s best to act right away when you notice a slow drain. After all, it will only get worse as more grime, dirt and debris flow down the drain. Here’s what you can do on your own, before you call in for back-up:

  • Step 1: Head into the kitchen (or wherever you might have baking soda and vinegar handy).

  • Step 2: Gather your baking soda and vinegar and head back to the affected drain(s).

  • Step 3: Pour ½ cup baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup vinegar. Let it sit for about an hour.

  • Step 4: After an hour is up, pour a pot of hot, but not boiling, water down the drain to help move things along and hopefully clear the drain.

  • Step 5: If the clog persists, repeat steps 3 and 4 multiple times.

DIY Drain Clog Procedure 2

If the above doesn’t get things flowing again, it’s time to try another tactic — a drain snake. If you don’t already have one on hand, you can purchase one for relatively cheap at a local home improvement store. Then, proceed with the following steps:

  • Step 1: Stick the end of the drain snake down into the drain opening and turn the handle that contains the coiled up snake.

  • Step 2: You’ll want to push the snake down into the drain until you begin to feel resistance. Hint: this is likely the spot where the clog is located and you may need to apply some pressure in order to get the snake down into the area of the clog.

  • Step 3: Rotate the snake around and through the clog until you feel like you are able to continue feeding it freely into the pipe. Rotating the snake will help spin the clog away or at least you’ll be able to pull the clog up out of the drain as you retract the snake.

  • Step 4: Run warm water down the drain to clear out any remaining debris and to make sure the drain is now unclogged.

If neither of these options do the trick, your best bet is to call in a professional. Never, we repeat, NEVER, use a chemical drain cleaning solution to clear a clogged drain. These products contain harsh toxins that can damage your plumbing system or worse, make you and your family sick.

Tips For Preventing Clogged Drains

  • Never use your toilet as a trash can. Always keep a separate trash can in the bathroom for all other items besides toilet paper.

  • Install hair and debris strainers in the shower and tub drains and remember to clean them out regularly.

  • Avoid pouring kitchen grease and cooking oils down the drain.

  • Only grind small, soft food particles in the garbage disposal and make sure you wash them down with plenty of water.

  • Remember to clean your drains monthly. Use the above mixture of baking soda, vinegar and hot water.

Trust your drain cleaning services to the professionals with adequate training and experience at Love Plumbing, Air & Electrical. Call (803) 302-3350 or complete an online form to schedule your annual drain cleaning appointment in Columbia today and enjoy the benefits immediately!