It is a pain to have a drain that is clogged or blocked. However, you don’t always have to call a local Chicago plumber when this problem arises. Using a few tools that are rather inexpensive or other things that are commonly found in a typical household, most drains that are clogged can be easily cleared.
Anatomy Of A Drain
All drains are constructed in a similar manner in Chicago Illinois as well as across the country. A trap is a curved section of pipe that sits at the bottom of the drainpipe. This trap is U-shaped and is positioned under the sink. On the other hand, the traps used by most bathtubs are shaped more like the letter P, which is why they are called P traps. The reason the trap is made with curves is to trap water within the drain line. This water keeps sewer gases from rising up through the pipe and bringing odors into the home. However, those helpful traps have a tendency to get blocked in kitchen drains with food particles and cooking grease or in bathroom sinks and tubs with soap scum and hair over time. When drains run slowly, they are blocked partially. Obviously, drains are totally blocked with they don’t drain at all.
How To Clear A Drain Blockage
Before you do anything else, take a moment to look into the drain to see if you can find out what is blocking it. Scuzzy soap scum and hair can completely block a drain in bathtubs. You can often reach into the drain and remove the clog if you see hair lying within the drain. Since that may be impractical, you might want to go into the drain a little further and try to remove the clog using a bent wire coat hanger. In addition, you can also use a pair of needle nose pliers or a pair of tweezers.
Plunging The Drain
When the clog isn’t visible, plunging the drain is the next step to try. The plunger, or plumber’s helper, got its name for good reason. When a drain is blocked, this is the first tool that a professional plumber reaches for. To most effectively use the plunger, there must be enough water sitting in the sink or bathtub to cover the plunger’s bottom. Next, use a rag to block the overflow outlet. Finally, the plunger should be placed over the drain and rapidly pushed up and down six or seven times. By applying pressure in this manner, the clog should clear and the pipe opened up. Once the plunger is lifted any water left should drain quickly away. If you don’t see a change, try repeating the process since you may have simply moved the clog further down the pipe. More movement may be required to completely clear it.
Note: The overflow plate sometimes has the drain stopper attached to it on some bathtubs. If this is the case, the drain mechanism and the overflow plate must be removed in order to plunge the drain. Two screws hold the overflow plate in place. Once they are removed, both the drain mechanism and the overflow plate can be gently removed at once.
How To Snake A Drain
The next level of escalation when a blockage can’t be cleared by a plunger is to use a snake, a flexible and long steel cable that is wound on a handle. The snake is fed down the drain when used on a sink. However, the snake must be fed through the overflow plate opening on a bathtub. To begin, feed the snake approximately three feet into the opening. It works best if as you push it forward, you also turn it. This turning helps the head move through the trap which resists the movement of the snake because of the curves. Either the snake will push its way through the clog and break it up or you can pull the clog out after the snake hooks onto it while turning through it.
Keep turning the snake once it it through the drainpipe and continue to move the cable back and forth once it passes through the trap. When the snake hits the clog, you might actually feel it. When you are moving the snake in the drain, try running some water into the drain. The drain will run free once the clog is gone. Since some clogs are more persistent than others, to completely clear the drain this process may have to be repeated more than once. You may create further complications by snagging the snake if you push it too far into the drain when snaking. You may require some help from a professional if you run into this problem.
Are Chemicals To Clear Clogs A Good Choice?
Clearing a clog from a drain using chemicals is considered an option by some people. However, these chemicals are damaging to the environment because they must be highly caustic to dissolve grease-based clogs. That’s the reason that professionals do not use chemicals in order help drains run clear.
How To Keep Your Drains Clear
It is not much fun to clear a drain that is blocked. The best course of action is to prevent the problem from ever occurring. In order to keep your bathtub drains flowing freely, here are some tips that will help:
If you drop a small piece of soap and allow it to enter the drain, it won’t simply wash away after dissolving. This is how soap-based clogs stop up drains.
In order to prevent hair from entering the drain, use strainers to keep hair out. Instead of unblocking a drain every six months, it is much simpler to clean a strainer on a monthly basis.
Every thirty days, boil some water and pour it down the drain. The hot water will melt body oil (grease) and prevent build up by washing it away. Since boiling water can crack the porcelain, do not do this in a toilet.
Four times a year, pour some baking soda followed by some vinegar down the drain. After allowing the mixture to remain in the drain for five minutes, run some hot water down the drain to rinse it. Not only will your drains run freely, but they will smell clean, too.
A good responsive plumber sometimes is hard to find in the Windy city. If you have a clogged bathtub I recommend Chicago YourPlumber-IL. These guys are good. They service the following neighborhoods: WestLoop, East Garfield Park,West Town, Fifth city,Little Italy,Tri-Taylor,Lawndale,Douglas Park,Pilsen,Heart of Italy,Lower West Side.