4 tips to unclog a stubborn drain


Clogged drains are a problem that every homeowner deals with at one time or another. There are ways to prevent some of these issues – like cleaning the hair out of the shower and watching what you put down the sink drain – but other times clogs are unavoidable. Whether the problem is with your sink, toilet or tub, it's important to know the proper way to clear out your pipes. Use these four tips to guide you when dealing with a stubborn clog.

1. Invest in proper tools
You never know when a clog is going to form, so it's best to have the proper equipment on hand. The Old House magazine recommended investing in a few affordable plumbing tools that you'll find at any hardware store or home center. These will make the unclogging process quick and easy.

First, you'll need a plunger if you don't already have one. These usually cost between $5 and $10 and can be used to clear clogs in just about any drain. It's also good to have a plumber's snake, also called a cable auger, in your home. This tool is just a long steel cable that can be used to dislodge clogs that are deep in the drain pipe. A 25-foot model is more than enough for your standard plumbing problems.

Lastly, it's also handy to have a chemical drain cleaner on hand, but the liquid shouldn't be your go-to solution. When you use one of these products, be sure to follow the instructions carefully and flush out your pipes thoroughly after use.

2. Plug overflow holes
Many homeowners skip this essential step when they're plunging a drain. Lowe's hardware explained that it's crucial to plug any overflow holes or adjacent drains when you're battling a clog. This is especially important with backed up sinks. Use a wet rag to securely block any holes where the air might escape. The point of a plunger is to break up the clog with air pressure, so if there's another route where the air can go, it's undermining the tool's effectiveness. Blocking the holes will ensure that all the pressure is forced down onto the blockage.

3. Create a better seal
If you're struggling to get a good plunger seal when unclogging a toilet, you might be using the wrong tool. Cup plungers, which most homeowners buy, are really only made for flat surfaces, like the bottom of a sink or tub. The best tool to unclog a toilet is a flange plunger, which is shaped specially to create a seal along the curved walls of the toilet. Using this type of tool will make your job a lot easier.

To optimize suction, Lowe's also recommended putting a thick layer of petroleum jelly around the rim of your plunger. It will help to create a tighter seal and put more pressure on stubborn clogs.

4. Know when to quit
You'll be able to clear the majority of household clogs with these tactics, but there may come a time that nothing seems to work. If that's the case, it may be time to call a plumber. You don't want to damage your pipes by trying any questionable clearing methods, so use the tools you have, then turn the job over to a professional.

When you invest in a TotalProtect® Home Warranty for your home appliances and systems, you'll be covered if there's ever a mechanical problem with your plumbing system. Save yourself an expensive bill from the plumber, and protect your home with TotalProtect today.  

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.