How to Unclog a Drain

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Unclogging a drain is a common household disaster that presents a big challenge. While some people resort to using dangerous chemicals when trying to remove a stubborn clog in a sink drain, garbage disposal, or bathtub drain, this can lead to serious injury or even death if not used properly. The gases produced by these products often seep back into the home and can create a toxic environment for you and your family. Luckily, you have some safer methods available for clog removal.

Using hot water, baking soda, and vinegar to remove a clog

Materials Needed
  • 1/3 cup of baking soda
  • 1 cup of vinegar
  • 2 pots of boiling water
While not designed for the toughest clogged drains, using hot water, baking soda, and vinegar can help clear a smaller or less-severe clog. The section below details the steps you need to follow when using this method.
Step 1: Boil water. Boil a pot of water on the stove top.
Make sure to leave about 1 cup of the water in the pot for use in the next step.
Pour the rest of the hot water into the clogged drain.
Step 2: Pour in baking soda. Dump 1/3 cup of baking soda into the clogged drain.
Allow the hot water and baking soda to sit in the drain for about five minutes.
Step 3: Mix hot water and vinegar. While you wait, mix the remaining 1 cup of hot water and 1 cup of vinegar together.
Step 4: Pour mixture into drain. Next, pour the vinegar and hot water in the drain.
Allow the mixture to sit in the drain for 20 minutes.
Step 5: Flush the drain. Finally, flush the drain with an additional pot of hot water.

Using a wet/dry vacuum to clear a drain clog

Materials Needed
  • Wet/dry vacuum
  • Clog attachment
For a particularly tough clog, a wet/dry vacuum might provide just the help you need in clearing it. This method uses the suction power of the vacuum to remove the clog. If you have a wet/dry vacuum with an exhaust port, you can even try to blow the clog away. The following steps give you instructions on how to use a wet/dry vacuum to clear a clogged drain.
Step 1: Blowing the clog out. Start by hooking the hose and attachment to the exhaust port of the wet/dry vacuum.
Some vacuums do not have an exhaust port. If this is the case, skip this step and go on to the next step.
Step 2: Suction the clog. Next, switch the hose and attachment to the suction port on the wet/dry vacuum.
Step 3: Switch back and forth. Switch back and forth between exhaust and suction to try and loosen the clog.
Take care as you might encounter blowback when using the exhaust port.
Step 4: Remove clog. Continue with this method until the clog is removed, using the suction function of the vacuum to clean up any mess.

Using a bellows plunger to clear a drain clog

Materials Needed
A bellows plunger is a more powerful version of a regular toilet plunger. Unlike a more traditional plunger, though, a bellows plunger is specially designed to allow you to create more suction by utilizing a bellows-like section at the head of the plunger. The following section talks about how to use a bellows plunger to effectively clear a clogged drain.
Step 1: Insert the plunger. Insert the end of the bellows plunger into the top of the drain.
Step 2: Fill with water. Fill the sink or bath tub with water until the head of the bellows pump is completely submerged.
Step 3: Pump up and down. Pump the bellows pump up and down to create suction.
Step 4: Continue until clear. Continue plunging until the clog is gone.

Using a Zip-It Bath and Sink Hair Snare to clear a clogged drain

Materials Needed
A Zip-It is a small plastic strip with a handle on one end and upward-facing barbs along its length. The idea is to insert the Zip-It into the clogged drain and use the barbs to grab hold of the clog and pull it out. Messier than other methods, take care when using the Zip-It, as the barbs are sharp and can cut you. The section found below describes how to use a Zip-It Bath and Sink Hair Snare.
Step 1: Insert the Zip-It. Start by inserting the Zip-It into the clogged drain.
This step might be more difficult if the drain has a stopper in place.
Step 2: Pull the Zip-It out. Once fully inserted, carefully pull the Zip-It out.
Clean any hair or debris off of the tool and into the trash.
Step 3: Repeat as necessary. If needed, insert the Zip-It into the drain again and pull it back out.
Step 4: Throw it away. Zip-Its are designed for disposal after use.
As you can see, you have many methods at your disposal when removing a clog from a drain. Make sure to take care when handling devices with sharp edges, such as a Zip-It, and do not look into the drain if you do decide to use chemical to unclog your drain to prevent splash back into your face or eyes. And always remember to clean the affected area after you’ve cleared the clog.

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