Tips for How to Unclog a Drain Effectively 

Perhaps one of the most annoying things we have to deal with in our home, whether we rent or own, is a clogged drain. Unfortunately, having a clogged drain isn’t something we can avoid—it’s going to happen at some point. After all, we put so many things down our drains, such as hair, bits of food, and grease.

When you are wondering how to unclog a drain that seems completely impassible, you might be worried that you’ll have to call in a plumber. The truth is, in most cases you can get that drain unclogged on your own, and there are a number of ways to do it. Here are the most effective ways to unclog a drain.


How to Unclog a Drain Physically


Pull the Hair Out

It is most often the bathtub (and sometimes the bathroom sink) drain that gets clogged with hair, and when it does it can be quite the job to clean. You can clear a drain by removing this hair by putting on gloves and pulling it out with your hands. This can take a few minutes, but it works well. A wire coat hanger that is bent to capture the hair will also work well. And there is a tool called a hair clog remover that is designed to pull out the hair. It’s inexpensive and good to have on hand.


Use a Plunger

For sink and bathtub drains, a plunger will often work to remove a clog. You’ll need a cup plunger for this, rather than your usual toilet plunger. Simply position the plunger over the drain and push down hard a few times to dislodge the clog. You can use some petroleum jelly to help create a seal if you need to. For the bathroom sink and tub, you may need to block off the overflow drain to create enough suction. Keep in mind, this method will only work if the clog is no more than 3 feet past the sink trap.


Clean the Sink Trap

The sink trap is that U-shaped bend in the drainpipe beneath your sink. It will be made of metal or plastic, and it can be removed using a wrench. Be sure to have a bucket beneath the trap before you take it off as there will be water and sludge that will pour out once the trap is taken off. As long as the clog is in the trap or in the bottom few inches of the drainpipe coming down from the sink, you should be able to clean it out fairly easily.


Use a Wet/Dry Vacuum

You can use a wet/dry vacuum to unclog shallow clogs. It is ideal to use something to seal around the hole, so you don’t make a huge mess. Then put the nozzle of the vacuum over the drain hole and turn it on to its highest setting. Let the vacuum run for a minute or two. Then remove it and run the water to see if the blockage is gone.


Use a Drain Snake

Another physical option when wondering how to unclog your drain is to use a drain snake, which is also known as an auger. This is a tool made of a flexible metal cable that will travel up to 25 feet through your drainpipe, catching any clog or debris. Once you push it through the pipe, you can rewind the cable, pulling the clog out with it.


How to Unclog a Drain Using a Liquid

There are a few options when it comes to using a liquid cleaner to unclog a drain. Let’s take a look.


Store-Bought Drain Cleaners

Store-bought drain cleaners are highly effective at unclogging drains by using a mixture of live culture, bacteria, and enzymes to liquify the contents of the clog so they can wash through with hot water. These liquid cleaners take some time to work, and they only work on shallow clogs.


Baking Soda and Vinegar Drain Cleaners

An alternative to a store-bought drain cleaner is a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. This is a safe solution that can clean out a minor clog. Start by pouring boiling water down the drain. When that water has gone down completely, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow that by a solution of one cup of hot water and one cup of vinegar. Leave this to sit for at least an hour, then run hot water down the drain to clear it. If you need something stronger, use washing soda in place of baking soda.


Cola to Clean Drains

Another option when considering how to unclog a drain is plain old cola (Coke or Pepsi or any other type of cola). This beverage is acidic enough that a 2-liter bottle of cola poured down the drain can effectively clean out a nasty clog.


Caustic Sodas for Drains

You can also use caustic soda, which is much harsher and must be handled carefully to avoid chemical burns. However, it is effective at removing stubborn clogs. Wearing rubber gloves and eye goggles, mix 3 cups of caustic soda with a gallon of cold water (it will fizz), and pour it down the drain. Wait for 20-30 minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain.


Final Word

You should only need to clear out a clog occasionally. If your drains are clogging frequently, it may be because your home contains older pipes that are becoming brittle and clog easily. This may require replumbing. The other reason your drains may clog frequently is because the house’s plumbing is not properly vented, which may be due to blocked plumbing vents. If that is the case, you may want to consider contacting a plumber to determine if replumbing is necessary or determine if it is time to consider buying a new home.


At Centex we have plenty of experience in home building and buying, so feel free to reach out to our helpful team members or visit more of our site to learn more about hot to unclog a drain, other home maintenance tips, or where to find a new construction home near you.


Looking for more Foundation tips and learning? Return Home here.

Published 01.27.22

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