How To Unclog A Bathroom Sink

How To Unclog A Bathroom Sink

Regardless of how well you clean your bathroom, you will likely experience a clogged bathroom sink at some point during your tenure as a homeowner. This is because materials such as toothpaste, hair, and soap combine to create a thick film that makes it difficult for water to drain properly. Fortunately, there are many steps that you can take to unclog a drain in a timely and safe manner.

Determine the Location of the Clog

The first step in getting rid of a clog is figuring out where it is located. In most cases, its location will play a key role in determining the amount of effort that will be needed to remedy the problem.

If the sink is still draining, there is a chance that the problem is located in the portion of the drain that is located under the sink itself. In such a scenario, you may need to disconnect the J-trap and physically remove the debris inside of it that is preventing water from draining properly.

However, if water starts backing up as soon as you turn on the faucet, your problem is likely closer to the bowl itself. Assuming that the clog is a relatively minor one, it may be possible to push the debris down the drain using little more than hot water and a pipe cleaner.

The folks at Crystal Blue Plumbing in Sacramento can assist in the process of cleaning your drain regardless of what your issue is. We can also fix broken pipes, determine the cause of water leaks, and take other steps to ensure that your plumbing system works as intended at all times.

It’s Generally a Bad Idea to Use Caustic Chemicals

It may be tempting to grab a bottle of chemical cleaner from your local home improvement store when you notice the bathroom sink is draining slower than normal. However, it is generally not in your best interest to pour chemicals down any drain in your house.

This is because they can burn through the pipes themselves, which means that you will have secondary plumbing issues to deal with. Furthermore, there is a chance that the ingredients used in these products could create toxic fumes in your bathroom. In some cases, these fumes can be carried throughout the residence as they make their way through your property’s drainage system.

Furthermore, if you do not thoroughly wash your sink after pouring chemicals inside of it, there is a chance that your skin will come into contact with them. If you spill any cleaner on the floor, on the faucet, or on the counter, you could further increase your risk of bodily injury or property damage.

What Types of Materials Should You Use to Unclog a Drain?

In some cases, simply filling the sink with boiling hot water will be enough to break through whatever material is clogging the drain. After putting the water in the sink, you should allow several minutes to pass before assessing whether it has fixed your issue.

If hot water is not enough to get rid of whatever is causing your sink to drain improperly, it may be possible to fix the problem using baking soda and vinegar. These two materials will combine to form a foam that will help dissolve the clog and move it through the pipe with ease.

As a general rule, it should only take a couple of minutes for the baking soda and vinegar to eliminate the mass of stuff that is causing your drainage issues. Typically, you can flush the pipe by turning on the faucet and letting water flow through it for a few minutes. However, it may also be possible to push the clog through the pipe with a small brush or similar object.

What Should You Do If the Clog Is Still Present?

If water, baking soda, and vinegar are not enough to remove the clog, there is a chance that there is a physical object stuck inside of the pipe. For instance, your child may have accidentally sent a small toy down the drain while brushing his or her teeth the day before you noticed the problem. Alternatively, a ring, a hair tie, or another small object may have fallen through the pipe.

In such a predicament, you likely will not be able to get to the object without taking apart the pipes underneath the sink. Ideally, you will call for a professional to assist in this project, as attempting to do it yourself may result in additional damage to your plumbing system.

There is also a chance that the sink is draining slowly because there is low water pressure throughout the home. There is also a chance that a blockage elsewhere in your house’s pipes is causing water to backfill into the sink. As a general rule, low water pressure, multiple blocked pipes, or other problems that impact multiple parts of the residence should be assessed by a professional.

The fact that a drain issue might be caused by something other than a buildup of hair, soap scum, or similar items is another reason why you should not use chemical cleaners in your drains. In addition to not taking care of the problem, you have to worry about toxic materials backing up into your sink.

What Can Be Done to Prevent Future Drainage Issues?

You can take a number of steps today to reduce the chances of your sink clogging in the future. For instance, you should never use toilet paper, paper towels, or tissues to clean the inside of your sink. Furthermore, it is important to remove hairballs of any size from the bowl since they can all turn to mush inside of a pipe. Finally, be sure to get rid of soap, toothpaste, or any other thick substances that may coat the sink’s bowl.

Placing a strainer over the drain can be an effective way to allow water to flow through it while prohibiting other materials from doing the same. Alternatively, you can drop dissolving tabs down the drainpipe to prevent materials from building up inside of it over time. A scented dissolving tab can help keep your bathroom smelling great and working properly at the same time.

Your Safety Should Always Come First

It is critical that you wear proper safety equipment whenever you are working in close proximity to chemicals, human waste, or other potential hazards. At a minimum, you should wear gloves, goggles, and clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. It might also be a good idea to turn off the water if it becomes necessary to disassemble a pipe for any reason.

If your sink is not draining water as it should, it is a good idea to contact the folks at Crystal Blue Plumbing right away. In addition to inspecting your home’s plumbing components, we can install heat pumps, ductless air systems, and smart thermostats with zoning capability in your house. Our team of professionals may also be able to repair a duct or take other steps to improve your property’s indoor air quality. Give us a call today.

Do Chemical Drain Cleaners Work?

Do Chemical Drain Cleaners Work?

If you have a clog in your drain, a chemical drain cleaner might seem like a quick and easy way of dealing with the problem. While these are a very convenient solution, some people worry that the cleaners can end up harming their pipes. Should you try a chemical drain cleaner? Here is what you need to know.

How Does a Chemical Drain Cleaner Work?

To see whether a chemical drain cleaner is effective, it is helpful to learn a little about how they work. Different cleaners work in different ways, but they all have the potential to break down a clog. The most common type of cleaner is a combination of lye, bleach, and caustic potash. This cleaner is denser than water, so it sinks down through liquids to reach the clog in your drain. Once the cleaner hits the clog, the caustic potash causes any soft tissues or organic matter to decompose. Eventually, the clog breaks down into tiny pieces that can move through the pipes.

A less common but still occasionally used type of chemical drain cleaner is an oxidizing drain cleaner. These drain cleaners cause organic material to oxidize. The material then dissolves into smaller clumps, so your drains can get moving again. If you seek professional help, you might also have access to acid drain cleaners. These cleaners are too strong to be used by typical homeowners, so they are not a DIY option. However, they can be very useful. These acids eat their way through any organic material, so your drains can clear up.

Are There Any Clogs a Chemical Drain Cleaner Cannot Handle?

As you can see, most drain cleaners focus on organic materials. They are only meant to handle things such as:

  • Grease
  • Hair
  • Food scraps
  • Tree roots
  • Human waste
  • Paper towels and tissues

If your clog is made of inorganic materials, the drain cleaner will not be able to solve the root cause of the clog. Clogs that include a lot of plastic, metal, or other synthetic materials will not break down when a drain cleaner hits them. The drain cleaner may dissolve some tissues or waste contributing to the clog, but with the main item still stuck in your drains, another clog will build up over time. This means that if your clog was caused by plastic wrap falling down the drain or your kid flushing a toy car, chemical drain cleaners will not work.

Will Chemical Drain Cleaners Harm Your Pipes?

Though drain cleaners are effective at fixing a clog, they come with a few potential problems. A drain cleaner uses a chemical reaction to break down clogs. These chemical reactions generate a lot of heat as a byproduct. While your pipes can withstand some heat, repeated exposure to extremely high heat is bad for a pipe.

When any object, such as a pipe is exposed to sudden heat, it expands rapidly. Your plumbing is sturdy enough that it will not melt immediately. However, repeated expansions and contractions can cause all of your pipe fittings to twist out of alignment. Eventually, this can end up causing leaks or breakages. There is also a risk of your drain cleaner getting stuck. If it cannot dissolve the pipe, it just sits in the same spot, generating more and more heat. This could cause the material to melt or deform in a dangerous way.

In most cases, chemical drain cleaners are safe for one-time use. As long as you follow all of the manufacturer’s instructions, a single use will not damage pipes that are in otherwise good condition. Unfortunately, many clogs are not resolved quickly. If your drain pipes are old or poorly designed, a sagging spot can encourage a clog to develop in the same spot again and again. And if the drain is only partially cleared, another will form in the same spot again. This can result in scenarios where people repeatedly use drain cleaner and end up damaging their pipes.

Chemical Drain Cleaners Come With Some Risks for You Too

Your pipes are not the only thing that a chemical drain cleaner can damage. Even though drain cleaners might be sold alongside basic household goods, they are an extremely dangerous substance. The issue is that these drain cleaners are designed to eat through organic material. Unfortunately, humans are made up entirely of organic matter. This means that a drain cleaner can eat through your skin just as quickly as it can go through a clog.

You can slightly reduce these risks by carefully following all the manufacturer’s safety instructions. Exact guidelines vary based on the type of drain cleaner you use, but usually, you need to wear gloves and eye protection. It is also very important to pour the drain cleaner slowly into the drain. Many people get injured because they dump in the cleaner, it splashes back, and some cleaner lands on their skin.

What Are Your Alternatives to Chemical Drain Cleaners?

In most cases, chemical drain cleaners are not worth the hassle or risks. There are plenty of other safe and easy ways to clear a clog. You can start by just trying to remove the clog manually. If the problem is just some hair tangled around your drain stopper, you may be able to just remove the drain cover, yank out the clog, and get your plumbing working again. For clogged toilets, sinks, or showers, another option is a basic plunger. You just need to fit the plunger around the drain and then pump up and down rapidly. This pushes water against the clog, helping to break it up.

Another option is snaking the drain. This lets you manually break up the clog without having to use any chemicals. For clogs close to the start of the drain, snaking the drain can be a DIY job. You can pick up a cheap drain snake or auger at your local hardware store. Though you do need to be careful not to scratch the finish on your sink or toilet, an auger can work quite well.

For clogs that are deep within the drain of your home, it may be impossible to reach the clog yourself. Especially in cases of main drain clogs or sewer line clogs, you might have issues like tree root intrusion, which are not easy to deal with yourself. In these cases, consider getting professional help. Drain clogs are a very common plumbing service that is quite affordable. A professional plumber will have special tools and plumbing know-how that can remove stubborn, deep-set clogs without damaging your piping.

If you are dealing with a clog deep inside your drain lines, you need professional help. Crystal Blue Plumbing, Heating & Air is happy to assist Sacramento residents with fixing all sorts of plumbing issues. In addition to our plumbing repairs, we also provide HVAC repairs, installation, and maintenance. Call now to learn more about all of our services.