Clogged drains are one of the most common problems in kitchens and bathrooms. Fortunately, clogged drains are also one of the easiest home repairs you can tackle. And that’s because most often, the cause of the blockage is due to food waste, hair, or soap residue.
My name is Kenneth Ferreira, Broker for Ramona Property Managers, and today I’m sharing tips, tricks, and techniques that will save you time and money when it comes to clogged drains. If you’re a tenant, you’re more than likely responsible for the cost of unclogging a drain, so before calling your manager or landlord, give the following methods a try.
Boiling Water and Dish Soap
This is the simplest and least expensive option. Obviously, it’s the one you should attempt first. Bring 2 liters of water to a boil, then add a couple teaspoons of liquid dish soap. Take this mixture and carefully pour it down the drain.
This method works especially great on grease clogs because it warms the grease back to a liquid, allowing it to flow freely out of the pipe. It may take a few tries, but you’ll be astonished at how well this works.
One thing you should keep in mind though, is that boiling water can cause damage to plastic pipes. So if you have PVC pipes, skip this step and try some of the following methods.
Use Baking Soda and Vinegar
This is a tried-and-true approach for unclogging drains.
Pour 1/3 cup of baking soda down the drain, then add 1/3 cup of vinegar. Every science class through out known world has done this, but all the bubbles and fizzing never get old. The fizzing action is what makes this method so effective in removing the grime that’s clogging your drain. For best results, allow it to sit for about an hour before flushing it out with hot water.
Baking Soda and Salt
Another highly effective combination is baking soda and salt. These two natural compounds can often do wonders, especially when it comes to clogged drains!
In fact, this simple DIY method is not only effective against blockages; it’s also excellent against foul drain odors. Just combine ½ cup of each, and pour the mixture down the drain. Let it sit for a few hours, and follow with a pot of hot water. These compounds combined produce a strong chemical reaction, which has the potential to clear most blockages.
Mix Hydrogen Peroxide & Baking Soda
Yep, you can also use hydrogen peroxide to unclog your drain. Mix 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide with a spoonful of baking soda, and pour this mixture down your drain (baking soda goes first).
Once again, you will notice a fizzing action, which means it’s working! Soon enough, the obstruction will be broken up, and your drain will be cleared.
Some of our favorite soft drinks are quite corrosive. And while this makes them unhealthy, it does make an excellent drain cleaner!
The best soda for the task is regular Coca-Cola (not the diet version). You want it to be as harsh as possible. Gently pour it down your clogged drain, and allow it to sit for a few hours. The cola will begin dissolving the blockage quickly and may even be able to completely dislodge it. After a few hours, just flush the drain with some hot water.
…and we drink this stuff…
Use A Plunger
First things first. There are two types of drain plungers.
For toilets, you should use a flange plunger. For sinks, showers, and tubs, you should use a cup plunger. If your drain is completely clogged, remove the drain stopper, and fill the sink with enough water to cover the plunger’s suction cup.
Then proceed to plunge using the same motions as you would with a toilet. The abrupt changes in pressure on both sides will eventually get the blockage dislodged and carried away.
Use A Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool
This thin piece of flexible plastic with tiny barbs up and down the sides costs around $5 and can save you hundreds in service calls for clogged drains. Several companies make a similar tool and you’ll see it called a hair snare, a drain cleaning tool, a stick drain cleaner and a drain opener.
This method is very effective in removing obstructions caused by hair or food particles. When you’re finished, just pour some hot water down the drain.
Whatever you call it, everyone who has a sink and/or bathtub needs a Zip-It in their arsenal of DIY tools.
Remove and Clean the Drain Trap
I hate this method – which is it’s last on the list. It can get messy and always smells wierd. Regardless, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, and this might be the only way to get it done.
Clogs can sometimes form in the drain trap which is typically located beneath the sink, inside a cabinet.
First, clear the area and place a bucket underneath the drain to capture any water or debris that may fall out. Then, carefully remove the P-trap from the drainpipe and clear out anything that’s been lodged in it.
Once you’re done, simply reattach the P-trap and run some hot water through the pipes for a few minutes to complete the process.
Here’s a couple of tips to avoid blockages from recurring. Perhaps the most essential preventive strategy is to avoid dumping harmful items down the drain, particularly fats and oils, coffee grounds, food scraps, and hair.
It’s also a good idea to replace your standard drain stopper with one that prevents unwanted materials from going down the drain in the first place.
You can also pour in equal parts vinegar and baking soda on a regular basis, generally once or twice a month, to keep your drains running clear and smelling fresh.
In my house we are always throwing lemons, limes, and oranges down the disposal. We have a small kitchen herb garden, so unused fresh herbs go down to.
There you go. A few simple ways to save yourself some time, money, and some aggravation.
Till next time.