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Unclogging Drains the Right Way

Despite your best preventative efforts, every homeowner has to face a clogged drain every now and again.  When you think of how often the various drains in the typical home are used, you’d think it would happen even more than it does.

The Plunger
Even though calling in a professional plumber will solve your clogs, it probably isn’t necessary for minor clogs.  Whether it’s in the kitchen, bathroom or laundry room, be prepared and keep it simple.

A standard-issue plunger is definitely one of the most unglamorous pieces of equipment you’ll use in your DIY efforts.  However, it is one of the simplest and most effective pieces of equipment you will use, and it works for most small to medium clogs in sinks, tubs, showers or toilets.

Creating Suction

The reason a plunger works so well is because of the vacuum and suction that’s created.  The stronger the suction, the greater chance you have of dislodging that clog and getting everything flowing freely once again.  You can increase the suction of your plunger a few different ways:

  • Cover it with water – If the clog is in anywhere other than the toilet, which already has water, cover the plunger cup with water.
  • Block adjacent outlets – If you’re plunging a double sink, or the sink has a small vent opening, they must be blocked before you start.  Use a wet washcloth and block the other openings to increase suction.
  • Coat the rim – Apply a layer of petroleum jelly around the lip or rim of the plunger cup before you start plunging.

Don’t Be Shy

Once you have the plunger over the drain and you’re all ready to go, it’s time to be aggressive.  Pump the plunger up and down with forceful strokes, and pay particular attention to your upstroke, as this is where most clogs become dislodged.

Aim for up to 20 good strokes, then take a step back and check out your handy work.  If the clog hasn’t broken free, give it another try.  Sometimes it can take a handful of tries before the clog is released.

The Snake

If your plunging efforts are unsuccessful and you have an auger or ‘plumber’s snake’, now is the time to put it to work.  Insert the snake into the drain and then feed it down into the line in search of the clog.

Keep feeding the snake down through the pipe until you come into contact with the clog.  The snake spins as it is fed through the pipe, and now is the time to use that spinning action to your advantage.  Spin the snake into the clog, then back toward you.  Continue this forward and reverse movement until the clog is cleared up.  You may want to let hot water run down the drain for a few minutes just to ensure it’s all clear.

If you don’t have a snake of your own, or feel like you’re losing control of the situation at any time, call a plumber.

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