How to Clear a Clogged Drain

When you have friends coming over for dinner and you find out that your drain is clogged, it can be frustrating! We hear you. One of the most common calls we receive is to unclog drains. Today we’re going to uncover how to clear a clogged drain. Oftentimes, your drain just needs some help clearing. Other times, the root of the clogged drain could be a bigger problem. After this article, you’ll know what you can do when your drain is clogged.

Clear Your Clogged Drain

Up until now, you may have read numerous DIY solutions to clearing a clogged drain. So, what option will you try out? Luckily, there are several options to choose from. As always, if you prefer to save time and energy, calling your local plumber may be the best and quickest way to resolve your problem.

A photo of a man with his head resting on his hand, frustrated with his clogged kitchen drain.
Firstly, let’s uncover some of the options that you can tackle on your own:
  • Plunger: Often the first tool people reach for with clogged drains. It’s usually the quick fix! Place the plunger over the drain and create a suction. Push the plunger up and down to loosen up the clog. *If you’re using the plunger for your sink, always disinfect it first! 
  • Hot Water: This is NOT for people who have PVC pipes** Boil up as much hot water as you can. Pour it all down the drain to break up the clogged materials.
  • Baking Soda + Vinegar + How Water: First, pour boiling water down the drain. Then measure 1 cup baking soda and pour it down. Next, pour 1 cup of vinegar down the drain. It should fizz and bubble. Wait about 5-10 minutes. Pour boiling water down the drain again a few times.
  • Dish Soap + Hot Water + Plunger: Lube up the pipes with dish soap! Mix ¼ cup of dish soap + 1 cup of hot water. Pour it down your drain. Chase it with hot water. Plunge the sink with a sanitized plunger.
  • Drain Snake: Insert the long, flexible tool into your clogged drain. If you need assistance, look up how to use it properly online.
  • Garburator: If you have a garburator, do NOT put your hand down your drain. It’s possible that you have something lodged in there.
  • P-Trap: If you’re a handy person, inspect your P-trap (elbow-shaped pipe under your sink). You may have some materials stuck in there.
Photo of one of our customer's kitchen under sink to show how the pipes look when newly installed

Usually, trying out the plunger and/or baking soda and vinegar does the trick. If you’ve tried all three options and are still having a problem with your water draining properly, you may need to call your local plumber.

How to Avoid Future Clogged Drains

Now that you know how to clear your clogged drains, let’s explore several things that should never be flushed or poured down the drain. Additionally, when you have multiple people living in a household, it can be difficult to keep track of who’s flushing or pouring what down the drain.

In this photo you can see a very full P-trap with citrus peels clogging the drain

As you are aware, there are numerous things that should not be poured down the drain. Sunday morning, in many households, is bacon and pancakes for breakfast. 

What do you do with your bacon grease?

  1. Pour it into the toilet
  2. Pour it into the sink
  3. Pour it into a glass jar/aluminum can
  4. Drink it

Which is your answer?

A photo of a glistening pan of bacon grease and crispy bacon

#3) Pour it into a glass jar/aluminum can! You got it! The reason why you shouldn’t pour grease or oil down the drain is that the fats solidify and stick to the insides of the pipes. As more things get poured down the drain, the fats will cling to passing scraps. The next thing you know, it’s been 2 weeks of neglecting to clean your drain and your sink is clogged and rancid. Not only that, you’re damaging your pipes and can affect the city’s sewer system.

If you’re finding this interesting, check out this blog post by The Spruce Eats about “How to Dispose of Used Cooking Oil”.

Friendly Reminders

  • Always use a strainer to catch scraps and other debris. Dump it all into your compost.
  • When cleaning oily pans and bowls, use hot water. Flush your drain with hot water after to break up the oils.
  • Preventative maintenance: Annual drain cleaning by your local plumber can prevent bigger problems down the road.

AVOID Pouring/Flushing There Items:

The list below applies to sinks with or without a garburator and toilets:

  • Grease and oil
  • Coffee grounds
  • Eggshells
  • Fruit peels and seeds
  • Meat, bones, and fats
  • Starchy foods: pasta, rice, bread…
  • Hair and fur
  • Non-degradable items down the toilet or sink: baby wipes, “biodegradable” wipes, paper towels, q-tips, and feminine hygiene products to name a few.
Photo of an enormous clump of hair that has been overdue of removing. Remember this cause your sewage or main line to clog which can cause expensive repairs!

You know what can and can’t be poured down the drain and you’re tried several of the options above but you’re still experiencing clogged drains – Call a professional plumber for help. It’s likely that there’s another problem that is clogging your drains.

How to Clear Your Clogged Drain: Summary

To conclude this blog, clogged drains can often be fixed easily when you keep up with regular maintenance and know-how. When your plumbing problems are neglected, they can lead to costly repairs. As long as you know what can and can’t be poured down the drains and how to clear a clogged drain, you shouldn’t have stressful situations on your hands. Again, if you’re experiencing stubborn drains that just won’t unclog, call your local plumber to handle them. With their expertise, your clogged drain will be resolved in no time!

Our licensed expert's tool bag on a protective cover on a customer's floor

Did you find this blog post helpful?
We would love to hear about which options you tried to unclog your drains. 
Did it work? 
What solutions did we miss? 

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