How to Unclog a Drain

Peter Chambers

Jun 7, 2023


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Dealing with a clogged drain is a frustrating experience that homeowners will face. Whether it is a slow-draining sink or a completely blocked shower drain, addressing the issue as soon as possible is important to prevent further damage. While calling a plumber is an option, they can take a while to get to the problem and charge you the money you could save. To save you time and money, you can attempt to unclog the drain by yourself. There are a couple of simple methods to unclog a drain that can be done yourself with minimal hassle. 

The Classic Boiling Water  

When you have a minor clog with a build-up from grease or soap, some boiling water on the stovetop can do wonders. Start by heating a pot of water until it reaches a rolling boil. Carefully grab the pot and pour the boiling water down the drain that is clogged in stages. This allows the water to work through the pipes. The hot water will help dissolve and dislodge whatever is obstructing it and give it a normal flow again. 

Remember to be extra cautious when using boiling water to avoid burns. 

The Trusty Plunger

If you tried the boiling water method and it doesn’t solve the issue, you can try the plunger method. Make sure there is enough water in the sink or tub to cover the rubber part of the plunger. Position the plunger directly over the drain so it creates a sight seal. Apply firm and vigorous pressure by using an up-and-down motion for 20 to 30 seconds. The suction and pressure from the movement can help unclog whatever is blocking the drain. 

After you are done, run water down the drain to check if it can run smoothly. If it flows freely, you have successfully unclogged the drain— if it doesn’t, you can repeat this method a couple of times before exploring others. 

The Drain Snake 

You can use an auger or drain snake to unclog it effectively for a deeper and more stubborn clogged drain. When you use a drain snake, you will insert it into the drain until you feel resistance. Once you hit the blocked section, start to rotate the snake clockwise to break it up or grab the clog. Slowly start pulling out the snake while you bring the clog. It is important to clean up the debris from the snake, which might not be the most enjoyable part before you repeat the process. 

This method is best for hair clogs in a bathroom sink or tub. If you don’t have a drain snake, you can find inexpensive ones at a hardware store or consider renting a powered auger for the tougher jobs.

Natural With Baking Soda and Vinegar

If you prefer to take a natural approach, use a combination of baking soda and vinegar for an effective solution. You will take half a cup of baking soda down the drain and then pour half a cup of vinegar next. The mixture will produce a fizzing reaction that will dissolve organic blockages and clean more minor clogs. 

Typically you will let this sit for 15 to 20 minutes so it can fully get the job done. After you wait, you can flush the drain with boiling water to wash away residue. This method is not as powerful as others, but it’s safe and eco-friendly, so you can give it a try before resorting to chemical drain cleaners. 

Chemical Drain Cleaner 

When all else fails and you are looking for a last resort, you can try a chemical drain cleaner. However, it is essential to be careful while using these. The products should be handled cautiously since they have strong chemicals that can be harmful if not used properly. Follow the instructions carefully and ensure you have proper ventilation since the chemical smell is strong. They work by breaking down clogs with the intense chemicals that eat away at them. 

Avoid mixing different drain cleaning products since they can produce more harmful fumes. If you are dealing with a severe and persistent clog, you may need help from a professional so you don’t cause damage to your plumbing system. 

The Bottom Line

Having clogged drains is no fun. Trying to take a shower with the water building up around your feet is irritating and should be happening. If you are in a situation like that, try these methods to unclog your drains.  


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