Unclogging Drains and Toilets

It always seems that bathroom sinks are always getting clogged much more than other types of sinks which I suppose is due in part to people combing their hair over top of them. One the simplest things to do to unclog a sink is to take a look at the stopper and see if that’s clogged up at all. If that looks pretty good, it’s time to move to the trap underneath the sink. The trap is the bend in the drain line where water collects usually. Debris can also collect here from time to time which can slow down the water flow.

To take these off sometimes you may need pliers but a lot of times you can do it by hand by just unscrewing it. When you take it off you can dump the water out and take a look to see what you have in there. If that looks clear then you’ll have to move onto phase 3 and use a snake. To use this, you must first unscrew the compression fitting, which is where the piping leads into the wall. This allows you to run the snake straight into the drain. Insert the snake and it should go in easily until it fits an obstruction. Once it hits one, tighten the handle and just run it clockwise until you get around it then continue snaking down until you hit another obstruction and repeat the same clockwise process. One thing about using a snake is you never quite know if you’re getting rid of the obstruction you just have to continuously take it in and out to check.

Another tool you can use on a clogged drain is a plunger. For the plunger to work properly, fill the sink with water and set the plunger over the drain to cover it up. Seal the overflow drain with a rag while you plunge up and down. If you’re using a plunger on a kitchen sink with two drains or one drain and disposal, you should cover up one of the drains while plunging the other. Otherwise the second drain will release the pressure just like an overflow drain would.

To clear a clogged toilet, you use many of the same procedures you use on a clogged sink or tub but the tools are a little bit different. For instance, this is when you use the inside flange on a plunger, this will give a better seal to the shape of the bowl. If the bowl is backed up to the rim, you’ll want to bale out some of the water before plunging up and down for about two minutes or so. If the plunging has dislodged the clog, any water in the bowl should drain down to normal. You can test this by pouring in a bucket of water. If you flush the toilet now, you’ll run the risk of flooding the bathroom if the clog isn’t cleared. If it seems to be draining properly, then flush it. Flush it a few times to make sure that any debris gets washed down the waste pipes and out.

As with a clogged sink, the last step to bringing in a plumber is to bring in the heavy artillery. There is a special type of auger called a “closet auger” and it’s specifically designed to get to the trap in the toilet. Toilets also have a trap that’s built right into the bowl. The waste has to travel up the trap and then down and out. The closet auger already has a bend in it to match the first curve in the trap. I pull the coil back so that the tip is right at the end of the curve. Then I place the curve into the bottom of the toilet, hooking up into the base of the trap. Now I turn the crank on the end of the shaft to set the auger spinning. If I feel the tip bite into the clog I can either pull the clog back into the bowl and dispose of it or work the snake back and forth to try to break up the clog. And again once you’ve cleared the toilet, first check it with a bucket and not by flushing.