Just about everyone has had, or will have drain problems with their plumbing system. Over time your plumbing system collects hair, soap, toothpaste and other types of liquids and chemicals from bathroom and kitchen sinks and showers that cause you plumbing lines to build up. Below, are some helpful drain cleaning tips.
DO NOT buy drain cleaner liquids or drain cleaning gels at a grocery store. Generally, these drain cleaning products are successful on drains that are not clogged up completely. Sometimes they will slightly help for a quick fix for a day or two, but (as most people discover) they will not fix the true plumbing clog.
DO NOT put vinegar and hot water down your drains. Often, this old home tip does work, but more often than not, it is not the best route. Pouring vinegar and hot water down your drains might temporarily help solve your clogged drain problem, by disintegrating the build up inside the pipe, but it also damages your pipes and will be even more costly in the future. You never know what kind of chemical reaction you are going to get when vinegar mixes with chemicals that may be blocked in your drain pipe.
DO NOT start snaking your drains yourself. This can be very dangerous to your plumbing (and extremely expensive). A drain snake is made of a steel cable that if coiled the wrong way can snap and cut anything in the vicinity, including you! A snake can be rented from $50.00 – $70.00 and may seem like the cheaper route, but if you have never used one before, do not try this yourself. You may end up hurting yourself or tearing your plumbing apart from the inside out. There are plumbing professionals that work with this equipment every day, and they know how to properly control it, and not tear up your plumbing.
DO get your drains snaked by a professional plumber. Snaking a drain is usually the best option for removing debris and clogs in your plumbing. A professional will do the job right the first time and often prevent the clog from occurring again in the future.
DO get your sewer lines jetted out. Often, the problem is not in the plumbing drain lines but the sewer lines. In this case, it is best to get your sewer line jetted out with a high powered hydro jetter. You maybe able to rent this piece of equipment from the local tool rental store, but it is most likely cheaper to call a local plumbing professional that is experienced in handling the equipment. They will know exactly what your sewer lines need, and how much pressure to apply to get your drain flowing.
Helpful Drain Cleaning Tips
Always use non-toxic drain cleaners in your plumbing system
Between human hair, kids throwing small toys in toilets, and people dumping food down drains, pipes in your plumbing system getting clogs are inevitable. Conventional drain cleaners are the most caustic, toxic chemicals you can buy at the local grocery store. All you have to do is pick up the bottle and read the label, and you will see. These chemicals can be extremely dangerous, and too often, fatal.
Usually, the main ingredient of drain cleaners is either sodium hydroxide or sulphuric acid. These are extremely harsh chemicals. These are very dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to your health if swallowed or inhaled. Swallowing these poisonous chemicals can have a severe effect on many parts of the body. Often, damage will continue to occur in the esophagus and stomach for several weeks after the drain cleaner was swallowed. Death can occur as long as a month after the drain cleaner was swallowed by a person.
If it gets on skin, it can burn. If it splashes into an eye, it can cause blindness. If it mixes with other chemicals (this could be something someone poured down the drain), it can cause an explosive reaction potentially harming people in the home, others nearby and the plumbing system throughout the home.
These toxic chemicals are also very harmful to the water supply and the environment.
Do not risk trying to use these harmful chemicals. There are safer alternatives available. Try these non-toxic drain cleaners and de-clogger methods to safely unclog your plumbing .
1st Safe Drain Cleaning Method: The Plunger
A simple thing people should first try is using a plunger. The method is the same as in a toilet. Use pressure to push the gunk through. Often, people do not like the thought of using something that has been in their toilet, if this is the case, buy an extra plunger to have for use in the shower and sinks.
2nd Safe Drain Cleaning Method: Safe Home-made Drain Cleaners
Try using baking soda instead of the harmful, expensive drain cleaning chemicals.
You should Mix 1 Cup Salt, 1 Cup Baking Soda, and 1/4 cup cream of tartar in a bowl. Using 1/4 cup of the mixture at a time, pour it down the drain, followed by 2 cups of hot boiling water. Wait at least 90 seconds before repeating this method. The boiling water will change the chemical composition of the ingredients. Often, this makes it strong enough to break down grease and grime build up in your pipes. More often than not, this method will take few tries, but it usually will fix the plumbing problem.
Make Washing Soda Drain Cleaner
Pour 1 cup of washing soda over the drain and allow it to work its way down to the clog. Once the clog is loosened, use the baking soda method, above. Washing soda is more alkaline than baking soda, with a pH of 11. Warning: Never use washing soda if a commercial acid drain cleaner has recently been used in the drain, they will strongly react with each other. This could destroy your pipes, or even explode in your plumbing system. Also, do not overuse washing soda if you have PVC pipes. The caustic nature of washing soda will slowly damage the plastic in the plumbing.
3rd Safe Drain Cleaning Method: The Drain Snake
Often, the first things that plumbers turn to is the drain snake (auger). This is a tool that you manually insert and twist down the drain to loosen the crud and physically clean the drain. There are snakes available, for lite residential use, at local hardware stores. Typically, they range in price from about $15-$40. Warning: Do not apply too much pressure while using these devices. Too much pressure, or twerking them in the wrong way could destroy your pipes. This could cost you much more money in the long run. There have been cases where people have used these drain snakes the wrong way, and it ended up costing the homeowner tens of thousands of dollars because walls and floors had to be removed because water line replacement had to be done in the plumbing system. Always make certain you read the directions carefully before you start .
4th Safe Drain Cleaning Method: Pipe Removal
Often, the pipe directly below the garbage disposal is backed up, and it simply needs to be completely removed and flushed out. If there is PVC pipe under the sink, it’s fairly easy to take apart. Usually, it just has rings you unscrew, and that is it. Always make certain you put a bucket under the pipes, twist apart the main curved one, pull off and material clogging the pipe empties into the bucket. Then, you simply screw the pipe back on and everything is flowing properly again.