A clogged bathroom drain is one of the more common of all household plumbing problems. With dirt, soap, and hair running down the drain several times a day, it doesn’t take long for that gunk to clog the pipes beneath your sink or tub. Fortunately for the DIY homeowner, trouble shooting a clogged drain is easy to do.
If water backs up every time you use your bathroom sink or tub, the clog probably is close to the drain opening itself. Before calling a plumber, try the following cleaning techniques first:
- Remove the drain stopper and clean off trapped hair and soap scum. Drain stoppers can be pried up easily with the fingers.
- Look down into the drain for more obstructions. Look inside the drain for more trapped hair and soap scum. Use a tweezers to grab visible bits of hair. For clogs deeper in the drain, a bent wire coat hanger works great.
- Flush out with hot water amp; plunge. To loosen up remaining bits of soap scum and other debris in the drain pipe, pour a gallon or two of hot water down the drain. If the water won’t drain away, use a plunger to move the clog and hot water through the drain pipe. Stuff a rag into the overflow outlet (that’s the oval shaped hole in the sink beneath the faucets) to increase the suction. Repeat until drain runs freely.
This simple technique is usually all it takes to unclog bathroom drains in both the tub and sink. If the drains still aren’t working, the probably may be deeper in the drain pipes. For the sink, the culprit may be no further than the sink drain trap. (This is the “half-S” shaped pipe located under the sink.) Cleaning out the drain trap requires a bucket, a channel-type pliers, duct tape, and a wire brush.
- Place the bucket beneath the drain trap.
- Loosen the slip nuts on the trap. Wrap the ends of the pliers with duct tape to prevent damaging the slip nuts. Use the pliers to loosen the slip nuts, and then finish unscrewing by hand.
- Remove the pipe and clean. using the wire brush and hot water. Replace the trap and tighten up the slip nuts with the channel-type pliers.
If the clog is in the tub, clearing out debris that are beyond the reach of hot water and a plunger means using a plumber’s snake. A snake is a spring steel cable with a crank on one end. Plumber’s snakes can be found at hardware stores or rental shops. They range in length from 15-25 feet and are the tool that rooter companies use to clear out the lines in your home.
- Remove the drain stopper.
- Insert the snake into the drain. Turn the crank clockwise, gently pushing the cable through the drain. Once it hits an obstruction, stop and fill the tub with a few inches of warm water.
- Back out the snake, clean off the debris and try again, repeating until the drain pipe is clear and the water drains on its own.
From my own experience as a landlord, these three simple techniques will almost always do the trick of breaking lose a drain clog. If however the drains still won’t work after all this, then the problem is probably more serious than what a DIY homeowner can handle on her own. As such, it is now recommended to call for a trenchless plumbing services who have the right equipment, knowledge and skills in fixing the issue.