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How to Unclog a Drain

Edmonton Plumbing Tips: How to Unclog a Drain

"I love unclogging nasty, plugged-up drains!"... said no one, ever. It's no secret that dealing with clogs is an unpleasant chore. But if you've got a minor clog in your sink, bathtub, shower, or toilet, you can probably handle it yourself with some little patience and elbow grease.

If you want to know how, or have some questions about unclogging, Mr. Rooter of Plumbing of Edmonton has some tips below that will help you get the water flowing freely down your drains again.

When is a Clog Not Just a Clog?

Before we get started, we have to mention something. Usually a clogged drain is just that, but sometimes it's a symptom of a bigger problem such as a sewer system backup or broken sewer pipes. How can you tell? Keep watch for these signs of a serious issue with your sewer lines:

  • Visible sewage in low-lying fixtures such as the toilet, shower, or bathtub

  • Sewage smells coming from drains or noticeable in the basement or yard

  • Strange noises coming from pipes, such as grinding or screeching

  • Pooling water or sinkholes on the lawn

  • Sudden lush spots in the grass

  • Drains that have been unclogged clog right up again for seemingly no reason

If you notice these symptoms, drop the plunger and call the experts at Mr. Rooter right away. Sewer system backups can cause catastrophic damage to your house and even jeopardize the health of your family, so it's not worth messing around—it needs to be taken care of quickly and professionally.

How to Unclog a Drain

If you're pretty sure you're just dealing with a common clogged drain, let's get started! Follow the steps below and you'll be well on your way to banishing that disgusting clog so you can use your fixture again.

Step 1: Prepare the Area (and Yourself)

We have to be honest with you here: there could be some splashing. It only takes a moment to remove any items in the area that could get dirty and put down some newspaper around the fixture, which will make the cleanup faster.

You'll also want to get some rubber gloves, ideally the kind that go up to your elbow, and change into some old clothes that you don't mind getting dirty.

Step 2: Remove Standing Water

Before you get going, remove the standing water from the fixture—unless you’re dealing with a toilet, in which case you can thankfully leave the water right where it is.

Put on your rubber gloves, reach into the grimy water, and feel around with your hands for any gunk you can scoop out, like a big clump of hair or food particles. If there's a drain cover, you'll probably need to remove it so you can reach down into the pipe a few inches and fish out anything that's blocking the water.

If you pull something out and the water begins draining normally, problem solved! That was easy.

But if standing water remains, grab an old container that you don't mind sacrificing and use it to bail as much water as possible out of the fixture. If the fixture in question is a sink or bathtub, check for an overflow drain and, if there is one, make sure it's clear of debris then plug it up with a wet rag to help build pressure while plunging.

Step 3: Choose the Correct Plunger

Almost everyone has had to use their common household plunger at some point, but many people don't know that there are actually different kinds of plungers. A bathtub or sink plunger is cup-shaped so the plunger can fit over a relatively flat drain and form a seal, while toilet plungers have a ball or bell shape with a flange that can form a seal in the toilet bowl.

Step 4: Get Busy Plunging

Got the right plunger? Good! Place your plunger cup over the drain hole and start plunging away. Don't be discouraged if nothing happens at first. It takes a lot of hard work, but plunging can usually loosen a clog if you have patience and keep at it.

It may also be necessary to partially fill the fixture with hot water to help the plunging action. If it's a toilet with no water in the bowl, you'll definitely need to add enough water to partially cover the plunger before you start.

Step 5: Try a Drain Snake

For particularly stubborn blockages, give snaking a try. You can get a simple tool called a drain auger (or drain snake) at your local hardware store. Then it's time to go fishing. Lower the snake into your drain until you feel the blockage, then push it through the clog until there's no more resistance and pull the snake up—hopefully with the clog attached.

Step 6: Call Mr. Rooter

When you've tried everything and nothing has worked, give our friendly plumbers at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton a call. We have years of experience with unclogging difficult blockages in all types of fixtures, and we can get your plumbing system in perfect working order quickly and efficiently. We offer 24/7 emergency services, so call us any time, and we'll be at your door with a smile as soon as we possibly can.

Should I Use Baking Soda and Vinegar to Unclog My Drain?

In a word: no. If you're looking for homemade, eco-friendly drain cleaners, you've probably come across a suggestion to pour baking soda and a cup of vinegar down the pipe to avoid using chemical products. We don't recommend this for a number of reasons, but the most compelling one is that it just doesn't work.

A mixture of baking soda and white vinegar does create an explosive reaction in a closed environment like a sealed bottle—but your pipes are not closed, so the gas will simply escape without doing much of anything. Doing so will just add to your clog problem.

Rely on Mr. Rooter to Deal With Nasty Clogged Drains

Unclogging a drain can be really hard work, and not every homeowner is up to the task. That's okay! Call Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton today at 780-429-3600 , or request a job estimate online, and we'll tackle that clog so you don't have to!