When you have a clogged drain, there are a number of drain clearance tools that can be used before turning to harsh chemicals or calling a plumber. Using any one or a combination of these tools could mean the difference between clearing that drain safely for free or paying a hefty sum for someone else to do it for you.
1 - Plunger
This should always be the first tool you reach for when faced with a clogged toilet, bathtub or sink. It's a versatile and inexpensive tool and every household should own one. Place the plunger over the drain, push down and pull back on the attached plunger handle. Often, the suction will release the blockage quickly. If you are clearing a sink or tub, fill partially with water before plunging so that you can see it drain away once the blockage has cleared.
2 - Plumber's Snake
Also called a cable auger, a Plumber's Snake is a long, flexible wire with a crank which pushes the cable into the pipe and makes for easy retrieval. Insert the Plumber's Snake into the clogged drain, turn the hand crank and you should be be able to feel the obstruction push free. Plumber's snakes come in a variety of lengths which can be used for a variety of jobs and there is even a special version called a closet auger which is designed especially for toilets.
3 - Pressure Washer
This tool is used by professional plumbers but you can buy them at any DIY store to help with your home maintenance tasks. Pressure washers send a jet of pressurized water into blocked pipes to help break up the obstructions when working on outside drains. Wear waterproof overalls to save yourself from a soaking!
4 - Electric Plumber's Snake
Electric Plumber's Snakes are also cables that can twist to fit any pipe and help push out clogs. However, electric versions of Plumber's Snakes are actually attached to a motor to dislodge blockages more powerfully. You can rent an electric Plumber's Snake for just a few dollars a day.
5 - Baking Soda/Washing Soda and Vinegar
Baking and washing soda is an excellent home remedy to help combat blocked drains. Pour 1 cup of baking or washing soda into your clogged drain and follow it with 3 cups of boiling water. Do this a few times to see if the blockage clears. If your drain is still clogged, pour 1 cup of vinegar down the drain for an extra shot of natural acid. When the vinegar hits the soda, it will cause it to fizz violently, further helping to dislodge any blockage.
Weekly treatments of 1/4 cup of washing soda will help to maintain clear drains and will also assist in cutting down on clogs in the future.
6 - Warm Water
The heat of warm water helps to erode build-ups within blocked drains. If you are unclogging a sink, slowly run warm water until you notice the water draining. If you are unclogging a toilet, fill a cleaning bucket half way with hot water. Pour this into the toilet bowl from above at chest height. After a minute or so, you should be able to see the water slowly draining away.