Do it yourself!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

How To Unclog a Drain

There is nothing like waking up on Sunday morning to a clogged up sink. There are certain things that we take so much for granted. I guess it would be worse if all of the commodes were stopped up. If you are one that likes to try to take care of these things yourself here are a few tips or ideas that might help.

It seems like plumbers charge double on weekends and it seems like these things happen on weekends about 80% of the time. If you can figure out some way to put them off until Monday you’ll probably save over $100. Although, sometimes it’s worth every penny of what you spend to get it fixed quickly.

The first thing to try is a plumbers helper. Many times this will do the trick. If it does it is probably just a quick fix and a good indication that you need to do some maintenance later. They also make cans of compressed air that work just like a plumbers helper.

The next thing is a snake.It seems like the first thing plumber do for a clog is to run a snake down the vent pipes. These vents work on the same principle as putting your finger over the end of a straw. If it stops up the vacuum won’t let the water flow. The main trunk line runs from one side of the house to the other catching the drainage from all of the drains. If you know where it drains to, the street or the ally, you can start at the low end or the high end. Just outside the house on the low end there will be a clean out where you can run the snake in from that direction. If your house is 80 feet wide or deep a 40’ snake should reach any clog even if it happened to be in the very center. You may have to take a little plumbing loose to get the snake to make all of the turns to get to the clog if you try to reach it from inside the house but once you reach it it will usually break through it unless it is something very solid like a bottle cap or toothpaste lid. They also make an attachment to put on the end of your water hose that when pushed up in the pipe and the water turned on will swell up securing the hose and shooting a small diameter stream of water under high pressure through the pipe. These two work well together. If the snake breaks the clog the high pressure stream of water will wash it away.

Last are the chemical treatments. I am hesitant to use these except as a last resort because of the risk of damage to surfaces and certain pipes. They also produce fumes that can be harmful.  Everyone needs a regular drain maintenance program to keep the drains flowing freely.This can be done by introducing bacteria into the pipes that dissolve the organic materials that can build up and stick together along with certain inorganic materials to cause complete clogs. With these products one usually has to treat the system for 2 or 3 days in row at first and then once a month or so to keep the drains flowing freely. They definitely do some good. If your plumbing has been ignored for several years your whole system may need to be roto-rooted before beginning a maintenance program.

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