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When the Drain Stops Flowing, Follow These Dos and Don'ts

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Clogged drains, unfortunately, happen from time to time. If you are careful to keep hair out of the drain and not to dump grease down your drain, you will have a lot fewer clogs, but there's still a possibility you'll wake up and find that your drain is not draining. So what's a homeowner to do in this situation? And what should you not do? Take a look.

Don't: Just right to the drain cleaner.

The bottle says "drain cleaner," so it would stand to reason that you'd dump it down the drain when you have a clog. But this is not always a good choice. Drain cleaner can cause damage to your pipes if it does not immediately clear the clog and sits in the drain for too long. So you should try other methods, as described below, before resorting to drain cleaner.

Do: Try plunging first.

Plunging is chemical-free and almost 100% safe. It's also more effective at clearing clogs than most people realize. Do these three things, and plunging is very likely to get your drain flowing again:

  • Use a bowl-shaped plunger without a flare.
  • Fill the sink with enough water to fully immerse the plunger head.
  • Plunge straight up and down. Stand on a stool, if needed, to keep the plunger straight.

Don't: Use a plumber's snake.

Yes, a plumber's snake is the tool most plumbers use to clear a tough clog. But it's not a good idea for anyone who is not a trained plumber to use a plumber's snake. Doing so can damage the pipes, leading to leaks and more serious problems. If your DIY drain cleaning efforts fail, call a plumber and have them snake the drain rather than attempting this yourself.

Do: Try baking soda and vinegar.

Often, plunging will mostly alleviate the clog, but the drain may still be a little slow as there's some debris clinging to the sides of the pipe. Baking soda and vinegar will loosen up a lot of this grime. Pour a cup of baking soda into the drain, and follow it up with just enough vinegar to make it foamy. White vinegar works the best, but you can use apple cider vinegar if that's all you have on hand. Then, don't touch the drain for at least an hour. Pour some hot water down it, and everything should loosen up.

Clogged drains are no fun at all, but if you adhere to the dos and don's while dealing with them, you should be in good shape. Consider hiring a clogged drain cleaning service if you need further assistance.