Here's How to Unclog Your Drains

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Every homeowner at one point or another needs to know how to unclog drains. Even though we all wish drains could unclog themselves, technology just hasn’t reached that point yet. One day, that dream will become a reality, but for now the average homeowner needs to know how to unclog drains.

That’s where Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in Louisville, Kentucky comes in handy. Our skilled plumbers compiled a list of the best ways to unclog your drain at home. Plus, we’ve included some of the largest culprits that cause this unpleasant occurrence. Once you pinpoint the signs, you can come up with a solution in no time.

Signs of a Clog: Here’s When to Unclog Drains

When your drains clog, it lets you know with a few different signs. These signs range in severity, but all are unpleasant to deal with. If you want to unclog drains, you need to be able to identify when there is a clog in the first place. When you notice any of these in one or more of your drains, you probably have a clog on your hands.

  • Unpleasant odor. Firstly, a clog usually comes with an unpleasant odor coming from the drain. Dirt, grease, hair, and other materials gather in the drain for long periods of time, which causes them to smell.
  • If there’s a clog in the pipes, they emit a gurgling noise. This is because air pockets try to travel around the clog, but are stopped. Only a small amount of air pushes through, and that causes the gurgle sound you hear.
  • Long drain time. Slow draining sinks, tubs, or toilets, usually mean a clog resides in the drain. Clogs block any water from traveling down the drain, which makes water drain at a slower pace than normal.
  • Because of smells associated with clogged drains, bugs congregate near sinks, toilets, and showers. Not only does this prove to be an annoyance, it can be a health hazard. If those insects find your food, those items become contaminated.
  • Water pressure. A clog in the main pipeline causes your water pressure to change. In most cases, the water pressure lessens. This is because clogs keep water from circulating through the pipe system. So if you experience low water pressure, you likely have a clog.
  • Ever flush a toilet only to see the water creep back up the bowl? These backups mean you have a clog on your hands. When you flush a toilet, the water is sucked down and immediately replaced by new water. A clog keeps the water in the bowl, but the new water does not stop, which leaves you with more water than the bowl can handle!

Unclog Drains After Learning the Common Causes

Certain materials in your drain cause clogs. Common causes plague every home from time to time, so it’s important to know what to avoid putting in your drains if you can help it. Of course, some things are unavoidable, but you can limit their frequency.

  • Dirt can find its way into your drain in multiple ways. In the sink, you wash your hands after gardening. In the shower, you wash away dirt and mud from a productive day outside. Either way, dirt and mud clog drains more than you think.
  • Cotton swabs. After you shower, you might clean your ears with some cotton swabs. Where do you dispose of those swabs? You should throw them into the trash can, but some toss them into the toilet, which causes it to clog. Cotton expands in water and that leads to particularly stubborn clogs.
  • Oil and grease buildup—with cooking oil in the sink and conditioner in the shower—clings to pipes. Even if these materials start out as liquids, they congeal as they dry. The oil sticks to the pipes and does not want to let go. To unclog drains, the substance must be scraped out and removed.
  • Small objects. If you have small children, you know they have no discretion when they stick something in a toilet or drain. From toys to paper, they shove anything that fits into the drain. Obviously, these items prevent water from flowing down the drain. They must be removed to unclog drains, which is labor intensive.
  • Food waste. Excess food in the drain blocks water, so make sure to dump any extra food on your plate in the trash instead of the sink. Even with a garbage disposal, some food items—like steak bones or eggshells—do not break down enough to flow through with ease.
  • Hair clogs all kinds of drains, but they most commonly clog the shower drain. Even if you think hair slips right down with water, it tends to tangle as it collects in the drain.
  • Toilet paper. Even things that are supposed to disintegrate in the toilet don’t sometimes. Too much toilet paper in the system cause clogs. To combat too much paper, use as little as possible.
  • Wet wipes. Not many people know that you should not flush wet wipes of any kind. That includes makeup wipes, baby wipes, or anything similar. They clog toilets more than regular toilet paper, so be sure to throw them away in the trash.
  • Maybe you think soap helps unclog drains, but that isn’t the case. Actually, soap builds up more than you think. It seems like soap bubbles simply flow down the drain without issue, but over time those suds dry and build upon themselves the more you use soap. Of course, we can’t stop soap, so this issue is bound to happen over time.
  • Mineral buildup. Finally, the water itself causes clogs over time because of mineral buildup. All water contains minerals. Some water—hard water—has more than others—soft water—but after long periods of time, minerals build up in your drains. Usually, this does not cause huge blockages, but it does change water pressure.

How to Unclog Drains

The sources of blockages in your drain vary, as do the symptoms, but several solutions to unclog drains are available to combat each of these issues. Most of these are at-home solutions that require items you likely already own or are easy to obtain.

  • Snake or auger. One of the first ways to unclog drains comes from a drain snake. Otherwise known as an auger, these tools are long pieces of metal or plastic that hook onto the clog and offer leverage for you to pull out the block. You can purchase one at any hardware store, or you can improvise by bending a wire hanger.
  • A plunger removes clogs from toilets with ease, but did you know they work on your sink or shower drain too? The only difference in technique stems from how you prep the area. If there are two drains, you must plug the drain without the clog with a wet cloth. Otherwise, all that gross stuff will fly out the other side.
  • Vinegar and baking soda. Ever want to make volcano in science class? Here’s your chance! Oddly enough, the combination of vinegar and baking soda unclogs drains because the bubbles made by the reaction course through the clog to break it down. You have to cover the other drain like with the plunger, but it works! Just be sure to rinse the pipe with boiling water afterwards.
  • Boiling water. Speaking of boiling water, try it on its own to see if that knocks the clog loose or melts it. If you don’t want to take the extra steps involved in the vinegar and baking soda solution, try this option to see if anything shakes loose to unclog drains.
  • Drain maintenance. Maybe you want to know how to keep drains from clogging in the first place. While you can’t prevent every clog, there are things you can do to keep them from happening often. Be aware of items you place in any of your drains. Additionally, steer clear of chemical cleaners. They only damage your pipes and lead to corrosion.
  • Call a professional. If all of these at-home fixes don’t unclog drains for you, call in a professional to help solve the issue. Sometimes, clogs are so far down in the pipeline, homeowners physically cannot get to them without the help of a plumber. In other instances, the issue may stem from a larger issue that requires the expertise of a professional. Either way, some cases simply need a trained plumber.

Contact Us to Unclog Drains

Your home deserves to have drains that remain clear and clean for you to live comfortably. No one wants to deal with a clogged drain, especially out of the blue. These easy, at-home solutions provide peace of mind to homeowners who just want their sink, shower, or toilet to work like it should. Even if you are caught off guard by a clog, you can identify the problem and fix it with these tips.

Jarboe’s Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling wants homeowners to know that they can unclog drains of any type. Even when clogs get too large to handle on their own, homeowners can rely on Jarboe’s reliable, trained plumbers to get the job done quickly and efficiently. In Louisville, Kentucky, place your faith in Jarboe’s. They treat homeowners right. Call us today for more information on our plumbing services. We offer free estimates and you can schedule a maintenance check on the phone.

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