The drain is clogged.
They’re words you hate to hear. The good news is, some clogs can be fixed in very little time and all on your own! For more major issues (and clogs you just don’t feel like dealing with), don’t hesitate to call a professional plumber.
But if you’re facing a backed-up shower, a blocked sink, or another common clog, check out these simple steps to get things flowing freely again.
1. Shower Drain Backups
No one wants to stand in a pool of water while taking their shower, so a clogged tub drain is a particular nuisance. Shower drain clogs are most commonly caused by a backup of hair. Hair and dead skin cells have a habit of sticking to drain pipes and creating blockages. Other causes include:
- Soap scum
- Hard water that is full of minerals
It’s important to make sure items like soap caps, wrappers, and razor blade covers don’t fall down the drain too.
A common solution to a clogged shower drain is a homeowner’s plumbing snake. This will catch hair and other particles that have collected in the first foot or two of pipe.
A plumbing snake tends to fix most issues with clogged drains, but if you’re still having problems, try pouring boiling water down the drain or using non-toxic cleaners. We highly recommend choosing non-toxic solutions—like baking soda and vinegar—rather than harsh chemicals because they’re safer for you, the environment, and your pipes.
Some other solutions to your issue include:
- Using a plunger on the drain
- Using a hook or wire to pull out the clog
- Removing the cover and taking out the blockage by hand (Gloves are recommended.)
Note: While you may feel comfortable taking the drain apart to inspect the issue, this is not always an easy solution, especially if the clog is deeper in the drain than you expected.
Pro Tip: Avoid hair backing up in the shower drain by placing a hair guard over it.
2. Blocked Sinks
A blocked sink can be an issue in the bathroom and in the kitchen, making brushing your teeth or doing the dishes more difficult than it needs to be, but a blockage in the bathroom probably has a different cause than a blockage in the kitchen. A kitchen sink blockage is likely to be caused by food or grease. In the bathroom, a clog is commonly caused by hair or small objects, like toys or jewelry.
One of the first solutions many people turn to is a chemical cleaner to pour down the drain. We encourage safer methods first. Not only are they safer, non-toxic cleaners work just as well!
Just like in your shower, you can use a plunger in your sink, but make sure the basin is full of hot water before beginning.
If you feel more confident in your DIY ability, you can use a plumbing snake or auger (a long piece of cable designed to remove clogs) under the sink to unclog the drain. If it comes to this, we recommend calling a plumber to avoid more damage to your pipes. Small objects can be particularly difficult to remove if they have fallen too deep.
Pro Tip: Regularly use a garbage disposal in the kitchen sink to avoid the build-up of food.
3. Clogged Garbage Disposals
Garbage disposals are a great tool to avoid clogs in the kitchen sink, but sometimes they get backed up too, especially if used incorrectly. While a disposal’s job is to handle food that falls down the drain, too much can cause damage. Clogs in garbage disposals are typically caused by:
- Coffee grinds
- Vegetables peels
- Egg shells
Most homeowners know about using cold water plus dish detergent to clear minor blockages, but this method may not work on more serious issues. Before attempting any repairs or inspections on the garbage disposal, make sure it is turned off at the circuit breaker! And double-check that the power is cut off by turning the disposal on before sticking anything in it or doing any work around it.
Then inspect the disposal with a flashlight to see if you can determine the root of the problem. For lodged food, it’s recommended that you manually turn the blades.
If it appears the issue is caused by a foreign object, such as trash or jewelry, you won’t be able to clear it as you would food. Attempting to do so can cause more problems. Call a plumber as soon as possible to avoid damage to the machine.
Pro Tip #1: Always monitor what is going into your kitchen sink. Never put these items through the garbage disposal:
- Large pieces of food
- Trash or other foreign objects
Pro Tip #2: Always attempt garbage disposal repairs with care. If you’re uneasy or have questions, call a plumber.
4. Blocked Toilets
Everyone dreads the blocked toilet and the damage it can potentially bring to a home. Remarkably, one of the most common causes of a blocked toilet is too much toilet paper. If a large amount is flushed in one go, it can cause a clog. Other causes include:
- Flushed hygiene products
- Children’s toys
- Cat litter
The go-to method of many homeowners for unclogging a toilet is the plunger. This will fix most issues, but always make sure the plunger is covered with water before attempting. A plumbing snake can also be used.
Unfortunately, some blocked toilet issues are more complicated and cannot be fixed using a plunger or plumbing snake. Many clogs require a toilet to be removed for inspection, which most homeowners are not comfortable attempting. To avoid damage, call a plumber immediately if your toilet is backing up and the solutions above are not working.
Pro Tip: Don’t put anything in the toilet aside from toilet paper. Keep the seat down to avoid items falling or being dropped in.
Sometimes unclogging a drain is easy and doesn’t require much effort. Other times it can be more serious and require a call to your plumber. If you’re unsure or have a clogged drain that won’t go away, call C&W Plumbing 24/7 at 972-395-2597. Don’t deal with backed up pipes longer than you have to!