A blocked drain is a major nuisance. It can cause a huge mess and may even result in sewage backups.

There are several ways to clear a blockage safely and effectively. Chemical drain cleaners work best as preventative measures but don’t typically reach deep blockages. A power auger can provide extra clog-clearing muscle.


Clogged drains are one of the most common plumbing problems. Using a plunger is the most effective way to clear blocked pipes without caustic chemicals or direct contact with the pipe walls. However, it is important to know how to use a plunger properly. Otherwise, you may end up making the clog worse.

Before plunging, make sure that the drain is completely drained of water. It is also a good idea to cover the overflow hole of the drain with a rag or an old towel to prevent water from accidentally flowing back into the sink or tub.

A flange plunger is used to unclog toilets and a cup plunger is used for sink, shower and bath drains. If you’re not sure which type to use, consult the instructions that came with your plunger or ask a professional plumber for advice.

After covering the overflow hole, place the rubber bell of the plunger over the clogged drain and ensure that it is firmly seated on top of the drain opening. It is also a good idea to have a bucket nearby in case any excess water spills out of the basin. Once the bell is securely placed on the drain, start pushing down on it with quick thrusts. Be careful not to lift the handle too high as this could break the seal and cause the plunger to lose pressure.

Continue this process until the clog is cleared. If the plunger does not work, try pouring a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the drain. This can sometimes create a chemical reaction that breaks up the clog and allows the water to flow freely through the pipes.

If the clog is still not removed after plunging several times, or if you see signs of a serious drain blockage like water pooling in your home or bathtubs overflowing, it is likely time to call a plumber for help. A professional plumber will be able to identify the source of your clog and recommend a solution that is safe for your pipes. The longer a clog goes untreated, the more serious it will become and this can result in costly repair bills for your plumbing system.

Plumbing Snake

If plunging and cleaning the trap fail to solve a stubborn drain clog, it’s time for a specialized tool that professional plumbers use: a plumbing snake, also called a drain auger. Basically, it’s a coiled steel wire with a handle on one end that you push into the drain and crank to dig into the pipe.

As with a plunger, it’s important to work slowly and carefully, as using excessive force can damage the drain entrance or pipe. Once the snake is in place, uncoil the spring-like metal line and feed it down the clogged pipe until you feel resistance or see it wrap around or entangle with the clog. Then, crank the handle to break up a soft clog or dig deeper into a solid or tightly packed one.

When the snake is done, you can usually pull it out of the drain easily, though occasionally a piece of the wire may get stuck inside the clog and need to be retrieved manually. Once again, make sure to clean and reassemble the p-trap, and pour water down the drain to confirm that the blockage is indeed gone.

Some clogs are too big for even a plumbing snake. If you find that your drains are still slow or clogged after using the snake, it might be a sign of a larger problem such as an underground sewer backup, or a damaged or collapsed pipe. In these cases, it’s best to call in a professional, like those of the Glendale plumbers.

If you want to try a DIY solution, there are many types of plumbing snakes available from home improvement stores. You can also buy or rent a power snake, which uses an electric motor to drive the cable into the pipe and is able to cut through tougher clogs than a manual snake. These models are usually much easier to operate, but they require more electricity and can be dangerous if you don’t follow the manufacturer’s instructions. A flat tape snake is another option that’s similar to a regular cable snake but can be used in narrower pipes, and some are designed to push the clog forward instead of digging into it.

Baking Soda & Vinegar

One of the most popular DIY hacks for clearing clogged drains is to pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain. This simple solution has been recommended by numerous magazines and even some professional cleaners. But the truth is that this mixture does not actually clean your pipes, or at least it doesn’t do so very effectively.

Baking soda and vinegar produce a dramatic chemical reaction when mixed together, but this is not a good thing for your drains. The reaction is a byproduct of the fact that these two ingredients are at opposite ends of the pH scale: baking soda is a basic substance called sodium bicarbonate, while vinegar is a diluted acid called acetic acid.

When these two chemicals come into contact with each other they react to form water, sodium acetate (a salt) and carbon dioxide gas. Depending on how much vinegar is used, this can produce a considerable amount of carbon dioxide, which in turn makes the mixture fizz. While this is fun to watch and a great ingredient for science fair volcanoes, it is not very effective for cleaning your pipes.

The abrasive texture of the baking soda particles may help to remove some stuck-on grime, but this is not enough to break down most blockages. If your clog is caused by grease, it may be easier to cut through it using a commercial product designed specifically for this purpose.

Another issue is that the acid in vinegar can damage certain types of pipes, particularly older ones made from copper or brass. This is because the acid can cause the metal to corrode, leaving holes in the pipe that allow liquids to leak out of the drain.

If you really want to use this DIY solution, it is best to only use it when the drain is fully clogged and you are prepared to wait for an hour or so for the mixture to work. While you are waiting, heat a pot of boiling water and use it to flush the drain. This will prevent the baking soda from sitting on a hardened clog and forming a ‘fatberg’ that requires mechanical tools to break down and remove.

Hot Water

For some clogs, a little boiling water can do the trick. Boiling water will melt away grease and soap residue that may have accumulated in the drain. This is especially useful for kitchen clogs caused by fats and oils that can harden and narrow the pipe.

Similarly, pouring a mixture of baking soda and vinegar can help unblock the drain. Mix equal parts of each and pour down the drain, putting a stopper over it to concentrate the chemical reaction. Leave the mixture to sit for about 20-30 minutes, then follow up with a blast of hot water. This will force the baking soda and vinegar into the clog, attacking it from both sides. It can be helpful to use a snake before this step to dislodge any remaining blockage.

If you can’t get the clog to budge using these methods, try plunging again and/or removing the trap beneath your sink, cleaning it out and replacing it with a new one. If your clog still persists, consider using a wire hanger. You can make a rudimentary snake with one by unwrapping it and hooking its head down the drain. Then, wiggle it around the clog to see if you can catch and remove it.

A larger wire snake can also be helpful for getting rid of a stubborn clog. Plug in the power auger, position it over the clog and begin feeding several feet of cable into the pipe. Most models have a foot pedal switch, leaving your hands free to guide the snake. Once the clog is broke up or hooked, turn off the motor and pull out the snake.

It is important to prevent clogs as much as possible. Keeping an eye out for warning signs like slow-draining, foul smells and standing water can keep them from becoming a major headache to deal with. Staying away from acid-based liquid drain cleaners can also keep your pipes healthy. By making smart choices in the kitchen, such as storing fatty foods in the refrigerator until they are cold before pouring them down your drains, you can avoid most clogs altogether.