Friday, November 16, 2007

Clearing A Clogged Drain


Tools Needed:

Channel Lock Pliers
Rags or paper towels


There aren't many things that I hate to hear more than, " The sink is clogged up." This possibly means some dirty work under the sink.


Every sink has a P-trap underneath it, This is a "U" shaped pipe which holds a small amount of water at the bottom of the "U". This keep sewer fumes from entering the home coming up through the drain. When things are dropped into the drain, they are sometimes caught by this P-trap. (Yes, even wedding rings sometimes stop here.) Objects and obstructions can be removed from the line by removing the P-trap.

Before you remove any of the drain pipes try a plunger. There has to be enough water in the sink to cover the mouth of the plunger. We keep a small plunger under the sink to use on the sink only. I don't like the idea of using a plunger in the kitchen sink when it has been used before in a dirty toilet.

If a plunger doesn't work, then try a commercial cleaner product such
as Drano. This pipe cleaning product is lye based and can cause burns if used incorrectly. Follow the instructions on the can exactly as they are written. If you put too much Drano down the drain, it will solidify like a rock.

If the Drano or the plunger don't work, then it's time to take off the P-trap. Put a bucket under the P-trap to catch the water that will come out. Be ready with a rag or paper towels to mop up any water that misses the bucket. If your P-trap has a drain plug on the bottom, take the plug off, and try to remove the obstruction from the hole. You probably won't be lucky enough to have one.

Loosen the top and bottom threaded collars that connect the P-trap to the tail piece and the drain. Be careful not to lose the vinyl washers that act as gaskets for the connection. Sometimes, the connecting collars are hard to get loose by hand. If this is the case, use a pair of Channel Lock pliers and gently turn the collars with them.

If you have an old metal P-trap and can't get it loose, then you might have to use enough twisting force on the collars that the corroded collars disintegrate, and the whole P-trap will have to be replaced. If you have to replace the P-trap, take the old one with you so you will get the right diameter replacement.

You may be able to remove the obstruction when the P-trap is off and in your hand. If the drain pipe is still obstructed, then it is time to use a plumber's snake. You may be able to feel the obstruction when you put the snake into the drain pipe. Use the snake to pull the obstruction out. If this doesn't work, then use the snake to try to break up he clog. When the obstrucion is vleared, reconnect the P-trap and flush the pipe with water.

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