Tools That Will Help You Unclog Your Drain

A dripping wet combination plunger.

If your drains are clogged or draining slowly there are several tools that will help you get the flow going. First, try using a plunger. If that doesn't clear the clog, try using a liquid drain opener, but use caution and read the directions carefully. Third, you can remove the trap. Be careful if you have used a liquid drain opener because there may be some left in the trap. If the clog is beyond the trap, there are drain augers that extend from 15 up to more than 50 feet.


Also known as a force cup or a plumber's friend, these are used to clear blockages in toilets sinks and tubs. Combination plungers (usually black in color) consist of two cups, one inside the other and are recommend for clearing toilets.


Also known as a snake, an auger consists of a coiled spiral cable, usually 1/4-inch thick and of varying lengths. The most basic type has a z-shaped handle used to crank the cable as it snakes through the drain. Another type uses a funnel-shaped container to store the cable and then to spin it as it works its way through the drain.

Professionals use an auger attached to a drill or other device that spins the cable. Usually these versions can maneuver a much longer cable.

Closet Auger

Also known as a toilet auger, a closet auger is used for clearing toilets. It's better than a regular auger because it's more rigid. It consists of a short cable with a crank. The handle is covered with a rubber sleeve to protect the porcelain in a toilet bowl.

Sewer Tape

An alternative to the auger, but not as effective in difficult blockages, this is a flat metal band with a hook on one end.


Used to clear stopped-up drains by chemical action, most liquid drain cleaners are heavier than water and will seek out the stoppage, even if the sink, tub or bowl is full of water. Cleaners are typically a combination of potassium hydroxide, which turns grease to soft soap, and thioglycolic acid, that dissolves hair. Others may contain sodium hydroxide, sulfuric acid or lye.

Toxic liquids should carry warnings and must be used with caution.

Drain Cleaner Safety Tips

If one type of drain cleaner doesn't clear the drain, do not pour another type down after it. Toxic fumes may result from the mixing of certain chemicals.

Always read the labels on drain cleaner chemicals carefully. Many are toxic and can harm sensitive skin. Be sure to wear eye protection whenever clearing a clogged drain.

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