Have a clogged drain? Most of the time you can fix it yourself quickly and easily. Below are simple solutions — without using potentially dangerous and damaging chemicals — for common clog causes.
Usually caused by fat, oil and grease (also known as FOG) or food particles.
- Plunger – Fill sink with warm water and then use a rubber plunger (the flat-cupped, not flange type).
- Liquid dish detergent and hot water (hot water melts FOG, soap helps to dissolve it) – Boil a large pot of water and stir in a few tablespoons of liquid dish soap; slowly pour the mixture down the drain, then flush with hot tap water. Repeat if necessary.
- Salt and hot water (hot water melts FOG, salt acts as scouring agent) – Pour one-half cup of salt down drain, then follow with near-boiling water and flush with hot tap water. Repeat if necessary.
Bathroom Sink or Tub/Shower Drain
Usually caused by hair or gunk buildup.
- Wire hook – Wire hangers work great; use pliers to bend one end of a straightened wire hanger into a small hook. Remove drain cover, then use hook to remove hair, gunk, etc., from drain. (It’s not pretty, but it’s effective.)
- Hair clog snake or plumber’s snake (cable auger) – Can be found at hardware stores; similar to the wire hook described above but specially made for drain cleaning. (Also not pretty, but also effective.)
Usually caused by … well, we think you can figure that out. (Or if you have kids, maybe a doll or toy car!)
- First, if the toilet is overflowing or is about to, act fast! Either 1) shut off the water behind the toilet or 2) keep water from entering the bowl from the tank by taking off the tank lid and reaching in to close the open flapper. (And don’t worry, the water in the tank is clean.)
- Plunge! Use a flange plunger (not the flat-cupped kind designed for drains), placing it on the toilet drain and pushing down gently at first to remove air and avoid splashing dirty water on yourself. Once there’s a good seal, use some force and pump the plunger down and back up a few times. Then pull the plunger up sharply to break the seal. The water should rush down the drain; if not, repeat until it does so. (Pro tip: Rubber gloves recommended!)
FUN FACT: The word “plumbing” comes from the Latin word for lead, plumbum. (The first effective pipes used in the Roman era were made of lead.)