An obstructed drain is always a problem and can seem complicated if you do not know what to do. A study by Direct Energy revealed that clogged toilets and Kitchen sink drain results when dirt, skin flakes, hair binds, cooking grease trapped onto drain pipe walls, and several other elements can pose a difficult problem in the home.
Fixing clogged drains isn’t going to be fun, it’ll smell bad, and you should be ready for the mess.
The good news is: We've put together proven tips to help you learn how to unclog a drain and get your plumbing and drainage system functioning properly.
In this informative article, you will how to:
- Identify a clogged drain.
- Clean a clogged drain.
- Avoid future blockages.
- Understand your responsibility for unblocking public and private lines.
So what basic steps do you need to take if you experience a clogged drain? This is one of the major concerns that homeowners have. Let’s discuss it.
1). Identify what is wrong
If the water in your toilet or bathroom does not drain away properly, it is likely to be the result of a clogged drain. If your toilet is completely clogged, check out our article on how to unclog a toilet.
2). Stop using the drain
This may seem obvious, but do not throw more water down the drain! This will only make the problem more difficult to solve.
3). Safety first
Before tackling the blockage, make sure you stay safe by wearing full protective clothing (including gloves, goggles, and coveralls). And always remember to remove and wash your protective clothing after completing the work.
That said, let’s now talk about the best ways to handle a clogged drain.
Before you begin, make sure you have a set of pipe rods, which can be rented or purchased at most DIY stores. Once you have put on your protective clothing, follow the steps below.
1. Remove the lid
First, lift the inspection cover over the drain. If the lid is rusted off, use a screwdriver to scrape off the rust. If your manhole has a handle, attach a string or wire to it, then open the lid.
Use a rod with a piston attachment to dislodge the obstruction -- it can take several minutes of twisting and turning. If not, try using a standard kitchen mop handle even though this is unlikely to be as versatile as a goal drain rod does.
On the flip side, you can use the plunger. A report by Consumer Reports shows that you can use biological cleaners and a plunger to clear under sink clogs.
“The report further revealed that Biological cleaners, such as Citra-Drain and Zep, use enzymes or bacteria to chew through clogs. It doesn't pose a health risk to humans, and they're likely to harm septic systems because they don't kill beneficial bacteria. But they're very effective when it comes to quickly removing clogs.”
3. Rinse with water
Once you have dislodged the blockage, flush the drain with water to remove the remaining debris. Unlocking a drain can be a difficult process that is best avoided.
Here are some tips to prevent future drainages:
- Watch your drains: By checking your drains regularly; you should be able to take the start of all minor blockages before they get worse.
- Dispose of waste properly: Remember to dispose of waste in the correct manner. Never rinse items such as face wipes, diapers or cotton wool as they may block drains.
- Keep your drains clear of plants: If possible, try to keep clear drains of flowers and plants. If your garden is particularly green -- try the drain fitting guards to help prevent plant material from falling in and causing blockages.
- Rinse before loading your dishwasher: Always rinse plates and cutlery before loading your dishwasher. Any excess food will end up in the drains and could build up to cause a blockage.
Find out your responsibilities as the homeowner or occupant and the person to contact if you are having a problem with a public drain or sewer.
Method of Unblocking pipes:
i). Unblocking by pump: Recommended for small plugs, its efficiency is proportional to the strength of the user.
ii). Unlocking by ferret: For small and medium plugs, the ferret goes everywhere in the pipe and allows to eliminate the plug.
iii). Unclogging by acid: For small and medium caps, acid does wonders. In less than a quarter of an hour, the acid will completely dissolve the cork. The only disadvantage is that the pipeline can be thinned.
iv). Unloading by truck pump: Recommended for large caps, it is a hydro-pump truck that sends a jet of water at high pressure in the pipes. Its action is extremely effective and performs a thorough disgorging and scrubbing of the pipeline.
The importance of the cap depends on the diameter of the pipe and the nature of the plug itself (hair, food scraps, toilet paper ...).
Pro Tip: Avoid throwing anything into your pipes and maintain them regularly.
Flushing is a effective method of cleaning a clogged drain. Flushing helps to unstop a slow running sink and you don't have to use toxic chemicals or even seeking the help of a plumber.
However, if the task is beyond you, you might want to get some help from a qualified plumbing company near you.
The right plumbing company doesn’t do this for money. In fact, most of the work they do is to carry out the maintenance of sanitation networks for the direct needs of communities, municipalities, companies, and individuals in order to ensure the durability and the flow of the works, but also to avoid odors.
The ideal plumbing company will also ensure the cleaning of the wastewater columns, garbage disposal ducts, building rubbish bins on behalf of Condominium Trustees, maintenance of lifting pumps, cleaning of lagoons and rhizospheres.
Principle and operation of pipe cleaning
The cleaning head is the working tool for the implementation of pressurized water, especially for the cleaning, stripping, and cleaning of pipes.
The cleaning head performs a dual function:
i). The projection of water under pressure: The front jets prepare and facilitate cleaning work in the case of heavily clogged pipes.
ii). Propulsion: The rearward directed jets are dimensioned according to the flow/pressure torque and oriented according to the desired speed of travel and the work to be done.
So how do you know there’s a problem with your plumbing system?
You know that you have a problem with your plumbing system when some clues appear, such as:
- Weird noises.
- Unpleasant odors.
- slow and difficult evacuation.
And so on.
The situation can become frustrating and even detrimental to your quality of life.
And it doesn’t make sense to just sit back and watch the situation change on its own accord. No, you have to take the right steps and contact a plumber who can fix it quickly and safely.
Why use the services of a plumber?
If you are not a plumbing specialist, you may only perceive the symptoms of the problem. But it doesn’t stop there. How would you know if it is due to:
- A clogged drain.
- A leaking pipe.
- Dysfunctional sewers.
Remember that damaged piping can cause more leaks and damage to your house. Hence, the need to seek professional support.
More so, the congestion of a pipe may be a symptom of an underlying problem that needs to be addressed without delay.
A plumbing professional will be able to intervene:
- With the right equipment.
How do you know the right specialist to call?
If you are unsure about the professional who can help you, contact us by phone or online to get the information you need. You will know if the plumber is the specialist who can suit your situation or if you should rather call a general contractor, an electrician, a carpenter, etc.
What can a plumber do when the plumbing problem touches the foundation drain?
There are two (2) types of problems that can occur with foundation drains (also known as French drain):
- The pipes are blocked by the roots of the trees.
- They are engorged by iron ocher.
How can a plumber perform hose uprooting?
How can an outside pipe be blocked by roots? It is known that plant roots seek water. That’s one of the reasons the roots grow in that direction. It is enough that your external pipes:
- Show signs of condensation on the outer walls.
- Slightly ooze or
- That the seals are loose and cause water to leak.
When they reach the pipes, the roots are inserted through the cracks (even in the most microscopic ones), develop and grow until they completely block the pipe or cause it to break. If you have waited too long, you will have no choice but to replace them entirely.
How to locate where the foundation drain is obstructed?
If in the past you had to dig at random, which increased the costs of the intervention today, it is possible to do a complete inspection of your pipes with a specially designed camera.
There is more than one type of camera for this purpose. However, keep these things in mind when choosing a camera:
- Color or black and white images;
- Length of the semi-flexible stem of the file to which it is connected;
- Resolution of the image;
- Dimension of the camera;
If your pipes do not have openings for their maintenance, a trench will be dug on a corner of the building, the foundation drain will be cut and a camera will be inserted into each section to make a complete tour of the damaged drain (if no cluster blocks the passage of the camera).
But the camera also has many other uses:
i). Detect other alterations such as, for example, a major breach affecting a wall of the foundation;
ii). The ownership and distribution of sand and crushed material preventing water (rain or groundwater) from remaining near and infiltrating the foundations.
iii). Find out if the foundation drain(or French drain):
- Has aged badly;
- Is holed
- Contains earth;
- Is clogged with ferrous ocher;
If on its way, the camera detects a flow or other important problems, then you’ve no choice other than to excavate the area and fix it.
How can plumbers uproot the foundation drain?
If the process is not too advanced, the extraction of the roots can be done with the help of an electrical feeder. This ferret is made up of a thin, elongated, semi-flexible metal part with blades that can cut the roots, clean or reduce to pieces any clog that clogs the French drain.
Do solutions exist to the problem of pipes clogged with ferrous ocher?
Research is still underway to discover how to permanently eliminate iron ocher problems. The best solution, for the moment, is maintaining your pipeline.
The first time, the work will be a little more expensive.
Remember that you can request a quote from a plumber. Indeed, it will be necessary to dig, cut a section of the French drain, circulating a jet of pressurized water in the latter for effective cleaning, bleach to lower the pH in the event that the iron ocher deposit is of bacterial origin, check again to make sure there are no more ferrous ocher plugs, put ducts (chimneys) in place so you do not have to dig and cut again at the next maintenance.
Once the ducts (chimneys) are installed, the cost of a "foundation drain cleaning" should cost only one-quarter (¼) of the initial amount depending on which plumbing company you have chosen when you receive quotes from Plumber.
- Copper wire in the drains so that the iron deposits settle there. The role of this copper wire is somewhat the same as that of the anticorrosive anode in a water heater.
- Drains covered with water.
- Materials with large filtration openings to benefit the ocher composition away from the drains.
- The addition of lime to the backfill soil (when the soil is fine textured).
- Smaller distance between large diameter pipes.
- Lateral drains shorter.
9 tips for maintaining your plumbing system
1. Take advantage of the services of a plumber expert
The first advice we can give you to keep a plumbing system in perfect condition and save money may seem to be interested on our part but it is the most efficient and the least expensive: Call a plumber expert at the first sign of a failure of your system. You will avoid serious problems and disbursements.
2. Avoid carelessness and prevent obvious issues
The majority of plumbing and water damage we face is due to negligence. Many of your plumbing problems and significant costs can be prevented.
Keep a regular eye on the failures of the components of your plumbing system. Inspect countertops by opening cabinets under your kitchen sink and bathroom sink for leakage or moisture.
Stretch your ear to check for any noise from your toilet tank to make sure there is no spillage as well as any seepage from its connection.
Inspect the flexible hoses connecting your clothes washer, especially if they are a few years old. Being able to inspect the connections and the underside of your dishwasher for leaks is an asset.
Inspect your water heater for leakage or rust and make sure you know where it is going. When the water supply piping is visible, inspect it.
Also, inspect walls and ceilings under plumbing fixtures and components for dark circles or moisture when possible. Also, make sure your drains are working properly.
This inspection will only take a few minutes but will ensure that your plumbing system is kept in good condition and at a lower cost.
3. Prevent the bursting of pipes by frost
If you have water pipes, both metal and PVC that run along an outside wall and are visible to you, inspect them in very cold weather.
If you leave your home for a long time in the winter or during a prolonged heating failure, take advantage of these few recommendations:
- Beware of lowering the heating of your home
- Leave your cabinet doors under your sink or sink to keep enough temperature in these confined spaces
- Let a trickle of water run down your faucets to prevent freezing of stagnant water in your piping
Also make sure your piping and fittings are well insulated in the unheated areas of your home and garage.
If you are closing your cottage for the winter, be sure to close the main water inlet and let the faucets run to completely empty your pipes. Remember to make sure your water supply is well insulated upstream of your main water inlet valve.
4. Check your water heater
Check for leaks and rust. From 10 years of age, you must seriously think about replacing it. You avoid major damage that will cost you thousands of dollars, especially if you live in a housing or condo.
5. Your washing machine or dishwasher hoses
Regularly check your washing machine and dishwasher hoses. The rubberized casings of your clothes washer dry out with age and show signs of weakness through external cracks.
You must change these guts at the first sign of weakness or every 10 years. The same goes for your dishwasher hoses, even if they are flexible metal.
Always choose quality materials, save a few dollars at the risk of causing damage for several thousand dollars is not a good economy.
6. Your outdoor faucets
Remember to empty your outdoor water supply ducts before winter, whether for your pool or garden hose, unless you have frost-free faucets. If you have an unheated garage that is supplied with water, consider also protecting yourself from frost.
7. Act quickly in case of emergency
Even if you take all the necessary care to avoid a leak or a water damage, a breakage can happen. Immediately close the supply valve of the defective plumbing element.
This valve is usually located close to the item to repair for example, under your sink or sink, behind your clothes washer, a hatch behind your bath supply or, above your water heater.
If you cannot stop the leak, turn off the main power of your home immediately. It is usually in the basement near the wall facing the street and the municipal power system.
8. Thaw frozen pipes
According to Reader's Digest, “frozen water expands in volume by up to 9%. And this expansion is spontaneous: going from 40 pounds per square inch to 40,000 pounds per square inch.”
More so, when you run out of water or have a very low water pressure in the winter on a particular component of your plumbing system and its pipe runs near an outside wall exposed to the cold, you probably have a problem with a frozen pipe. It is necessary to act quickly before undergoing a burst.
You need to identify where the frost is forming, usually in a closet or cabinet leaning against an outside wall when the plumbing is visible. These are cooler places that can be poorly insulated.
To help resume normal flow, open the valve on the section affected by the freeze. The most effective and safest way and the use of a hairdryer.
You must distribute the heat evenly up to the frozen part of the piping and be patient. Other heating elements such as a heating fan, or an electric lamp that emits a lot of heat can be used.
But be careful not to ignite flammable components surrounding your piping. The propane torch is to be avoided. The danger of fire is too great and you can damage your piping.
When the pipe is not visible, you must use the same means to warm the environment of your hidden piping. But you will have to redouble your patience.
If you are unable to restore water flow, call a plumber quickly to avoid having an exploded pipe and subsequent water damage.
To prevent pipes from freezing in the most at-risk locations, you can wrap your pipes with insulating foam covers that are available at low-cost hardware. Heating wire may be required in less accessible areas.
9. Prevent clogged pipes with a house cleaner
Make your own sewer pipe cleaner with homemade products at your fingertips. Pour equal parts of baking soda and vinegar into your tub or sink drain once a month.
You can also use two products that you usually find in your kitchen to prevent clogged pipes. Use half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of salt to mix and empty into your drain. Add boiling water.
These two methods are all as effective and less harmful than the products available on the market while being more natural and less toxic.
Other so-called eco-friendly enzyme products are coming onto the market and can help keep your ducts clean. These enzymes digest the accumulated dirt in your ducts but do not open an already clogged pipe.
In addition, experts do not unanimously agree on the real impact of these products on the ecology.