How to Unclog a Drain with Household Products

There’s nothing worse than a thoroughly clogged, backed-up sink. For many, the first instinct when encountering one of these pesky clogs is to reach for the chemical-based drain declogger. However, for many Phoenix homeowners, this may not, ultimately, be the best idea. The harsh chemicals used in these de-cloggers can harm eyes, skin, and lungs if accidentally exposed, and in some occasions, even damage your home’s plumbing. Besides, why jump straight to potentially harmful chemicals when there are so many other methods for handling common household clogs? Handle your clogged sink with a bit of elbow grease and a big of help from the plumbing & drain professionals at Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing.

Common Household Clogs

Before you can tackle your household clog, you’ll need to identify what you’re dealing with to know how to best approach the issue. While clogs come in nearly endless shapes and sizes, some of the most common drain clogging forces found in households throughout the United States include:

  • Hair
  • Soap and cleaner residue
  • Grease, fat, or oil
  • Dirt
  • Food scraps
  • Hygiene products
  • Mineral buildup
  • Small objects

Your kitchen plumbing and bathroom plumbing may face unique challenges while handling your and your family’s daily routine, but both are susceptible to these clogging elements all the same. Fortunately, identifying the cause of your most recent clog can not only help you handle the issue at hand but may help you find ways to avoid those sorts of clogs later on.

5 Easy Ways to Remove Clogs

While chemical de-cloggers shouldn’t be how you tackle your clogs, there are plenty of other ways to approach a number of household plumbing blockages on your own. Many of them require little more than elbow grease and a few household products that any kitchen or cleaning supply cabinet is likely to already have on hand. These methods are often effective and cause far less damage to your plumbing than chemical cleaners.

1. Use Boiling Water

If you’re dealing with a simple grease, hair, dirt, mineral buildup, or soap residue clog, you may just need to apply a bit of heat to dissolve the blockage and send it on its way. This is the easiest approach to knocking out clogs, and therefore should usually be your first attempt at fixing the issue - unless you happen to have PVC pipes in your home. Repeated application of boiling water could cause melting or damage to PVC pipes, so it’s best to avoid this method if your plumbing is PVC-based. To unclog your drain with boiling water:

  • Using either a kettle or a pot on your stovetop, bring half a gallon of water to a boil
  • Pour the boiling water directly into the clogged drain’s opening
  • Turn on the faucet to check if the water is draining properly
  • If water still does not drain, repeat the process

If the clog fails to disperse after you’ve used a second half-gallon of boiling water, it’s time to try a different approach.

2. Examine Your Garbage Disposal

Garbage disposals are notorious for causing clogged kitchen sinks. If boiling water hasn’t solved the issue and your kitchen sink is equipped with a garbage disposal system, this should be your next step. The most straightforward fix is to turn on the disposal for a few seconds to break up and disperse the clog - likely food scraps. However, if your garbage disposal is dysfunctional, you may need to take the additional step of hitting the reset switch at the bottom of the unit before it starts.

If your disposal still won’t turn on and simply emits a low humming sound, it may be jammed or broken. Never, ever put your hand inside the drain to repair your garbage disposal. In fact, to ensure the job gets done right and you aren’t posing a serious risk to your own safety, it’s best to call in a team of professionals like those at Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing to check out your garbage disposal if you suspect it’s broken.

3. Use a Plunger

If boiling water doesn’t work and the garbage disposal doesn’t seem to be the issue, you may be dealing with a deeper clog. While plungers are traditionally reserved for toilet-related blockages, you’ll find that these tools work just as well on sink drains when clogs become an issue. This is a great way to deal with clogs in sinks or tubs with standing water in the basin. If there is no standing water, fill the basin with hot water (around halfway up the basin), place the plunger over the drain opening to create a seal, and then firmly pump up and down several times. Remove the plunger to see if the water is draining. If, after a few attempts, the clog still isn’t dispersed, it’s time to try yet another method.

4. Baking Soda and Vinegar

If you must resort to using chemicals to resolve your clogging issue, choose baking soda and vinegar instead of big-brand de-cloggers. Most homes will already have both baking soda and vinegar in the cupboard, which means you can save a bit of money while taking this route as well. To clean your drains with this method:

  • Remove any standing water from the basin
  • Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain
  • Pour one cup of white vinegar down the drain
  • Quickly place a drain stopper over the drain
  • Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes
  • Remove the drain stopper and let hot water run down the drain

Repeat as needed to remove a clog. However, like other home de-clogging methods, this method isn’t guaranteed to handle your household plumbing problem. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives out there if even the classic baking soda and vinegar solution fails you.

5. Clean the P-Trap

If you have easy access to the pipes under your sink, it may be worth your while to roll up your sleeves and give the p-shaped pipe there a good cleaning. This is a likely spot for small objects to end up, such as children’s toys, jewelry, and other foreign objects, which food scraps and other debris can accumulate over time. Simply put a water-catching bucket beneath the PVC pipe, disassemble it, clean it, and put it back as it was. This solution is hands-on but easy enough to do on your own.

Call in the Plumbing Professionals in Phoenix

There’s usually no harm in trying to unclog sink blockages yourself, but it’s important to know when you should call in the professionals. If cleaning the p-trap, using a plunger, creating an experimental drain volcano, and applying boiled water and elbow grease hasn’t solved your blockage, it’s time to call in a team who can investigate your clog and use more specialized approaches.

If all of these methods fail you, it’s time to call in Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing professionals. With the best tools and intricate knowledge of household plumbing needs, our technicians can resolve even the most mysterious clog in no time. Whether you need a plumber’s snake for your drain or you’re dealing with a severe external issue such as invading tree roots, we have your back. Contact us today to learn more about our plumbing services and what we can do to help you resolve and prevent clogs within your home.