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Removing Clogs From Drains
A clogged drain is a household plumbing emergency that is very annoying to deal with. Usually, it starts as a minor clog, which if unattended to will progress into a major clog and plumbing damages that might be costly to repair. Drain cleaners, a plunger and plumbing snakes are enough to take care of most drain clogging.
This article will cover the causes of drain clogs, the best types of drain cleaners and the ones suitable for getting rid of different kinds of drain clogs.
Signs Of Drain Clogs
If your drain has clogged, you will notice several signs indicating so. The signs of a clogged drain include the following:
- Flood of water around the area of clogging
- A slow water drainage
- Corrosion on the drain
- Sewage backup
Causes Of Drain Clogs
Here are some of the most common factors that can contribute to your drain getting clogged.
Soap residue is one of the most common causes of laundry and bathroom drain clogs. Most traditional bar soaps are made of grease or fat and the minerals in water (hard water especially) combine with fat or grease in the soap and leave behind a hard residue known as soap scum. The scum reduces the diameter of the pipe, slows down the movement of water through the drain and eventually clogs the drain.
Replacing your traditional soaps with soap-free washes can help prevent this type of drain clog.
Food waste is a common cause of your kitchen drain clog. Therefore, if your kitchen drain clogs often, it is probably because of food particles like vegetables, eggshells and bone fragments going down the kitchen sink and clogging the drain. This happens regardless of whether you have a garbage disposal or not.
Simply throw your food leftovers into the trash and keep food particles away from your kitchen sink to prevent the drain from getting clogged.
Lumps of Hair
Human hair and animal fur can easily block the drain of your bathtub, shower or bathroom sink. Both hair and fur can combine with grease from soap and other sticky substances to form a clog leading to a drain blockage.
You can put a perforated drain hair catcher in your bathroom drain to keep hair and soap scum from entering the drain, which will help prevent the drain clog.
Grease, Fat, and Oil
Grease, fat and oil are common causes of a drain clog, especially your kitchen sink drain. They go down the sink in liquid form, solidify and then form a clog in the drain pipes.
To prevent this type of drain clog, avoid pouring oil, fats and grease down the sink. Instead, pour them into containers, allow them to cool off and dispose of them in solid forms.
Toilet Paper Build-Up
Toilet papers should not clog your toilet when used in a moderate amount. However, flushing excess toilet paper down your toilet can clog the drain. This is because huge lumps of toilet paper take a longer time to get dissolved.
Ensure that you use toilet paper in moderation and also supervise how your kids use it to prevent this type of drain clog.
Flushing hygiene products like sanitary pads, cotton balls, diapers, tampons and wet wipes down your toilet drain can clog it. Unlike toilet paper and human waste, these hygiene products do not break down or get dissolved when flushed. For instance, when a tampon comes in contact with water it absorbs it and swells up instead of dissolving like toilet paper.
It is advisable to dispose of your hygiene products and dental floss into the trash.
Different Drain Cleaners For Your Drains
These are the most common types of drain cleaners used. They are quick, easy to use and most of these cleaning products are usually liquid formulations.
Chemical drain cleaners clear clogs by dissolving the substances causing the drain blockage. They are commercially available in household supply stores and come in different sizes and brand names. The choice is yours!
Types of Chemical Drain Cleaners
Acidic Drain Cleaners
This category of chemical drain cleaners works by exacting acidic effects on the clog to dissolve it. They contain sulphuric or muriatic acid that is powerful enough to break down tough drain clogs caused by soap, hair, food and even paper-based clogs. They exact their effects in about 15-30 minutes.
They are generally safe for drains with newer plastic or metal pipes like copper in sinks, showers and toilet drains.
NOTE: Ensure to use safety gear like safety glasses, rubber gloves, nose masks and protective clothes when handling acidic drain cleaners as they can burn and irritate your skin, eyes and lungs.
Enzymatic Drain Cleaners
Enzymatic drain cleaners contain enzyme-producing bacillus, bleach nitrates or peroxide. They are a little harsher than acidic drain cleaners. They are suitable for monthly use to prevent drain clogs and are usually used to clear a soft drain clog. They are also gentle and non-corrosive to both old and new plastic pipes, metal pipes inclusive.
These cleaners can take up to 24 hours or more to exact their drain clearing effects. They do not contain any toxic and harmful ingredients making them a good drain cleaning option.
Caustic Drain Cleaners
Caustic drain cleaners contain alkaline chemicals like sodium hydroxide. They work by converting the drain clog into a soap-like substance that readily dissolves in plain water. They are suitable for clearing sink, shower and bathtub drains clogged with food, grease and soap scum. They are unsuitable for getting rid of toilet clogs as they cannot handle toilet paper.
Moreover, they are less acidic and corrosive but require you to wear protective gear while handling as they can burn and irritate your eyes, skin and nose on contact.
Examples of Chemical Drain Cleaners
Liquid Fire Drain Line Opener
It is an acidic drain cleaner that contains sulphuric acid as the key ingredient. It is most suitable for clearing sink and toilet drain clogs. However, it is unsuitable for tubs, showers and drains with aluminium steel.
How to use Liquid Fire Drain Line Opener:
- Start by pouring 1 and a half to 2 cups of the drain cleaner down into the drain.
- Now, wait for about 15-30 minutes for the cleaner to work.
- Finally, flush the toilet continuously for about 3-5 minutes with cold water.
Professor Amos Superfast Drain Cleaner
It is a caustic drain cleaner made of Iye or potash that is gentle on plastic and copper drain pipes. This chemical drain cleaner is suitable for clearing sink, bathtub and shower drain pipes clogged with hair, grease, food and soap scum. It usually comes in a 32-ounce twin pack.
How to use Professor Amos Superfast Drain Cleaner:
- Just pour few ounces of the cleaner down the drain.
- Wait for about 15-30 minutes.
- Finally, pour hot water down the drain to keep it clean.
CLR Build-Up Remover
This chemical drain cleaner is suitable for minor drain clog problems like slow running drains. It does not work on already existing and severe drain clog problems. Therefore, it only helps prevent your drain from clogging.
For this cleaner to work, you have to use it at least once a month and use it when you start noticing your drain running slow.
Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver
This chemical cleaner is best suitable for clearing a drain blockage caused by grease or oil. It works on mild drain clogs and not tough ones. Unlike most chemical drain cleaners, it is non-caustic, biodegradable and safer to use.
How to use Green Gobbler Drain Clog Dissolver:
- Simply pour it down the drain and flush it out with hot water after a few minutes.
CLR Power Plumber Pressurized Drain Opener
This non-chemical drain cleaner is a 7-inch can full of compressed air. It is easy to use and deals with a drain clog like a plunger. It works on a variety of drain clogs.
How to use CLR Power Plumber Pressurized Drain Opener:
- First, fill up your blocked sink with water.
- Now put the spray nozzle into the water, press it and allow the gas to expand into the water.
- The gas and water will push the clog further down the drain.
Hair Clog Blaster
This drain cleaner is suitable for clearing out drains clogged with hair like your shower, bathroom and bathtub drains. It uses sodium hydroxide and sodium hypochlorite, which work by effectively dissolving the hair clogs.
In addition, it is a strong chemical drain cleaner that is budget-friendly. Like most chemical cleaners, it requires protective gear while handling. Ensure that you strictly follow the instructions written on the bottle while using this cleaner.
NOTE: It is not suitable for clearing drains clogged by grease.
Drano Max Gel Clog Remover
It is one of the most popular and most used drain cleaners as it is very effective and affordable. This drain cleaner is safe to use and gentle on the PVC, garbage disposal, metal pipes and even septic tanks.
It comes in an 80-ounce bottle containing a formula that is capable of cutting right through standing water. It quickly dissolves all clogs, even the ones caused by hair and soap scum.
It is considered the best overall drain opener due to its excellent results.
Bio-Clean Drain Septic Bacteria
It is a chemical drain cleaner in a powder formula that uses a combination of natural bacteria and enzymes to get rid of organic waste clogging your drain pipes. It is also one of the best drain cleaners for your septic tanks as it is free of any harsh chemicals that can destroy your plumbing pipes. This makes it safe for all plumbing systems.
It effectively clears drain clog like soap scum, grease, food particles, hair and more.
Instant Power Hair and Grease Drain Opener
It is a heavy-duty drain cleaner that effectively dissolves hair and melts away grease clogs. It is an easy to use drain opener that comes in a 68-ounce bottle. In addition, it is safe for your septic systems and all types of plumbing pipes.
It has hundreds of positive reviews that point to how quickly it gets rid of tough clogs in kitchen and bathroom drains.
Physical Drain Cleaners
Physical drain cleaners include devices used to unclog a drain manually. They require you to use your mechanical strength.
Augers are either electronic or come with a crank. Their working end has a cone-shaped tool attached to it, which works to break down whatever substances are clogging your drain.
Augers are most suitable for use on clogs caused by soap build-up.
Drain snakes are suitable for drain clog caused by hair. There are two types of drain snakes, namely:
- Reusable Drain Snake: It usually has a crank on one end and a flexible tube at the other end.
- Disposable Drain Snake: These are mostly made of plastics and have no cranks.
It has a giant suction cup attached at one of its ends. The suction cup is usually placed over the drain. A drain plunger is more suitable for dealing with sink clogs than bathtub clogs.
NOTE: A drain plunger is different from a toilet plunger.
Homemade Drain Cleaners
These are DIY natural drain cleaners that have no chemicals, which are easily available and cost-effective. They consist of things found in your kitchen pantry and around your home. They include:
Baking Soda and Vinegar
These two substances work perfectly together to clear your clogged drains and equally help to prevent smelly drains.
How to unclog a drain using Baking Soda and Vinegar:
- Mix a cup of baking soda with 1/4 cup of salt and pour it down your drain.
- Follow it up with 2 cups of vinegar then cover your drain with the drain plug or duct tape.
- Allow the mixture to sit for about 15-30 minutes as it works on the clog.
- Finally, flush it down with a bowl of boiling water.
Dish Soap and Hot Water
This mixture is suitable for melting grease and oil drain clogs.
How to unclog a drain using Dish Soap and Hot Water:
- Simply mix 3 tablespoons of liquid dish soap in a bowl of hot water.
- Proceed to pour it slowly into your clogged drain. The hot water will dissolve the grease or oil while the dish soap pushes the dissolved oil or grease down the drainpipe.
Salt, Vinegar, and Borax
How to unclog a drain using Salt, Vinegar and Borax:
- First mix 1/4 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of borax with 1 cup of vinegar.
- Pour the mixture down your drain.
- Now let it sit for 1-2 hours.
- Finally, rinse the mixture off with hot water.
Why Call A Plumber To Deal With A Clogged Drain
You should not hesitate to call a plumber if you see that none of the drain cleaners mentioned above is working. Moreover, consider calling a professional plumber if you have a blocked drain that occurs frequently. This frequent occurrence might be an indication of a major plumbing system failure. Always keep in mind that using chemical drain cleaners in excess might cause ultimate damage to your drain pipes.