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How to clean/clear a drain

How to clear/clean a clogged drain:

Before attempting to clear a drain it may be important/helpful to know if more than one drain is affected. To do this check all the other drains by running water into them, keep the water running, it may take a few minutes for the water to back up and stop. Also during this process check the existing clog to see if the water you have running is coming up into that clog/standing water. If water is backing up into any drain(s) then that drain(s) is also affected/clogged. Remember to check the tub, the toilet (by flushing), the laundry, when checking to see if the toilet is flushing/draining fine you need to be ready to stop the water from overflowing; to do this, before flushing, remove the fragile toilet tank lid and set it aside. Now when you flush you will see the flapper in the tank lift up to allow the water to flow from the tank to the bowl. If the toilet begins to gurgle or back up you can simply hold the flapper down to stop anymore water from entering the bowl.

If your toilet is clogged and your tub or shower is clogged or if your toilet gurgles or backs up when you run water into another drain then you likely have a main drain line stoppage.

If the toilet alone is clogged, it often means excessive fecal matter and/or toilet paper or something fell into the toilet. If you can’t clear it with a plunger or a plumbers’ auger then the toilet may need to be remove from the floor turned upside down have the object remove. Then have the toilet reset. Always use a new wax ring.

If your toilet is affected from running water into any other drain then you likely have a main drain clog. This is usually caused by roots that have over time broken through into the clay pipe between the house and the city connection in the street.

If you have a main drain cleanout access pipe, remove the cover (with caution as it may empty out raw sewage). If the cleanout access pipe has standing water in it, then you can clear the clog/stoppage/roots from there with a plumbers snake.

If you’re main drain line cleanout access pipe is empty or water is flowing readily through it, then the clog is between the toilet area and the cleanout; in which case the line/clog may need to be accessed from the vent on the roof or by removing the toilet to run the plumbers snake.

When running the laundry/washing machine to check for a clog or stoppage be prepared to stop the draining cycle should water begin to back up and overflow anywhere, possibly into other sinks etc. remember, the clothes washer empties a large amount of water at a fast rate, so often it’s the first sign of a main line stoppage.

Slow or dirty drain: if you do have a main drain line stoppage, all other drains will contribute to the back up. Even though a bathroom/lavatory sink or a kitchen sinks’ drain may appear to be open and running, due to gravity any other drain connected to the system will cause water to rise in the lower drains such as the bathtub drain, shower drain, floor drains and toilets.

Laundry clothes washer stoppages or clogs are usually the result of lint build up in the drain over time.

Usually it’s easier to clear a drain stoppage from a cleanout access pipe if one exists, remove the plug with caution as it may spill out drain water.

A bathroom sink clog is usually a build up of hair in the trap or trap arm (dirty arm) if the drain has a cover remove it for drain cleaning. If you have a pop-up assembly with a rod that moves the drain stopper up and down you can remove that from under the sink just at the back of the vertical drain pipe right below the sink. Unscrew the cap that has a thin rod attached to it and goes into the back of the vertical drain pipe or pop-up assy. After you unscrew the cap pull it out of the drain pipe just enough to allow you to pull the stopper out of the sink above. Now, be careful not to lose any washers etc. that may be part of the pop-up assy. underneath the sink in the area of the cap. Loosing any nylon washers etc. or installing them incorrectly may cause leaking. Sometimes when you remove the drain stopper you can see the problem, usually hair or soap scum. In this case usually a small hand snake will do the trick. Be careful not to over-tighten or cross thread any parts when putting the pop-up assy back together.

For kitchen sink stoppages- often you can remove the cleanout plug outside the kitchen wall and have the line cleared/cleaned with a good professional electric snake.

For a two compartment sink, if one side is clogged and one side is open then the clog in the one pipe is before it connects with the pipe drain for the other compartment. Maybe you can see where the two connect right under the sink or often just inside the wall under the sink. If you need to take the drain apart to access the clog be sure to use pipe dope or teflon tape on metal treaded fittings to avoid future leaks. For plastic drain pipes you will just need the nylon washers that came with the plastic nuts.