Got a clogged drain? Wondering how to unclog a drain? Going to take a stab at unclogging it before you call a plumber? Great! Just make sure you avoid the following common drain-cleaning mistakes!
1. Not Protecting Your Eyes or Skin
Think for a moment about the things that are down that drain. Then realize that you are probably going to experience some backsplash as you plunge your drain (which is a great strategy, actually – plunging the drain often works), and the stuff that is inside your drain may get in your eyes. Always wear goggles when poking around in a drain.
In addition to wearing goggles, you will want to check if there is any other outlet where dirty water may splash up when you are plunging the drain. For example, if you plunge one side of a double sink, water is likely to splash up from the second sink. Cover the other drain with a towel or paper towel so the dirty water is contained.
2. Using Chemical Drain Cleaners
I know you probably grew up using chemical drain cleaners, but it’s really not wise to do so for several reasons.
- They rarely work. Chemical cleans can turn grease into soap, but they don’t dissolve solid clogs.
- They are dangerous. Let’s say you pour chemical drain cleaners down the drain. It doesn’t work, so now you are stuck with a drain full of caustic, toxic liquid. You go online and read that you should plunge or snake the drain, but now you have all this toxic junk in there that will hurt you if it gets on you. That makes both snaking and plunging hazardous for you or for the plumber you end up calling. (Don’t worry; we’re trained and know how to protect ourselves. We deal with this every day.)
- It can corrode your pipes, especially if you have copper pipes.
- Never use chemicals to unclog drains. They present environmental hazards in addition to slowly eroding your pipes. Chemical drain cleaners also cannot remove solid clogs. If you want to use liquid options in between plumber visits to keep your pipes clear, ask a professional for eco-friendly recommendations.
If you want to pour something down your drain, try vinegar (which is a mild acid) or an eco-friendly, nontoxic drain cleaner. For preventative drain cleaners, we suggest BioClean.
3. Combining Bleach and Soap
This combination is toxic! Most drains have soap residue in them, and the combination of bleach with most soap products produces a very harmful gas that can cause lightheadedness and even brain damage.
4. Making Your Own Snake, Hydrojetter, or Auger Out of Household Objects
That coat hanger may be tempting you, but please don’t stick it down your drain. Go to the hardware store and invest in a snake. I know it’s a pain, but a makeshift snake or auger will tear up the inside of your pipes.
Oh, and using your garden hose as a hydro-jetter is more than just a bad idea. You won’t get good enough water pressure to make a difference, will probably get soaked when the water comes flying back out at you (with gunk from inside your drain – not fun), and you’ll make a mess hauling the hose inside the house. Trust us: we’ve seen it all before.
5. Using Equipment You Have Not Been Trained to Use
If you did indeed head out to the hardware store and were tempted by the professional grade augers and hydro jetters, we feel the need to warn you that there’s a reason those things are labeled for professionals only. They can break pipes or hurt you if improperly used. Be smart and leave those to trained plumbers.
6. Forgetting to Replace the Clean-Out Cap
If you discovered that the clog was deep in the pipes (it usually is), you may have opened up your clean-out cap and tried to go at it from that direction. If you do this, you must remember to replace the clean-out cap when you’re done, or you’ll end up with all kinds of debris getting into your pipes.
If the clean-out cap broke while you were prying it off, be sure to go to the hardware store and get a universal cap. Cover the clean-out with tin foil and a rubber band while you’re gone, and then use the universal cap when you get home. The round rubber stopper inside the universal clean-out cap will create a tight seal, protecting your freshly unclogged pipes.
7. Ignoring Bits of Wood on the Auger
If you used an auger and the auger comes out with bits of wood stuck to it, you should stop and call a plumber immediately. This is a sign that you have a tree root intrusion, and you actually have tree roots inside your pipe. How? It’s common for a pipe to crack, which leads to the leaking of water. Tree roots find the water and force their way into the pipe through the tiny crack, causing a much bigger crack in the pipe. After a while, the tree roots fill the pipe, causing a blockage.
Believe it or not, this is one of the most common incidences we come across. Tree root intrusions can cause some serious pipe clogging and damage! However, we have our own heavy equipment, so we are prepared to deal with the problem and get your yard back in good shape usually that same day.
Need a Charlotte Drain Cleaning Expert?
Give us a call at 704-269-1066 or use our online contact form. We’ll help you unclog that drain!
Quick question & answer: Are there any mistakes I should avoid making with drain cleaning?
Yes! With drain cleaning, avoid making the following mistakes:
- Do not forget to protect your eyes or skin
- Do not use chemical drain cleaners
- Do not combine bleach and soap
- Do not make a snake, hydrojetter, or auger out of household objects
- Do not use equipment you haven’t been trained to use
- Do not forget to replace the cleanup cap