In many common, DIY drain cleaning applications, the tools you choose to use will entirely determine your success. Even beyond having these tools, how you use them could directly factor into the effectiveness of your at-home cleaning. There are many misconceptions when it comes to DIY drain cleaning, particularly dealing with cleaning products and the ways people use plungers. If you’re using the wrong cleaning tools, or even the right tools in the wrong way, you may only be making matters worse with your clogged drains.
Here’s we’ve outlined five of the most helpful tools to keep on hand when taking on stubborn drain clogs and other minor plumbing performance issues.
1.) The Plungers You Already Own
What catches many homeowners by surprise is that some of the most effective drain cleaning tools are already in your home; we’re talking about conventional plungers and specialty sink plungers (if you have them; if not, they are available affordably at any home improvement store). For clogged sinks and bathroom fixtures, your everyday plunger can make great progress in returning your drains to working order.
Plungers (conventional or sink) are tools that, when used in the right way, can do so much more than you’d probably imagine. First, make sure drain overflow vents are covered up, either by tape or other material. These are the holes along your sink walls, which prevent drain clogs from overflowing your sink; they provide another route for water to reach your plumbing.
With these covered, fill your sink or drain fixture halfway with water, and get a tight seal over the drain with your plunger. The key factor here is not air or air pressure, as widely believed; rather, it’s the buildup of motion and force caused by steady, continuous plunging motion. Keep a building rhythm, and you should be able to see quick results in a pinch for minor clogging.
2.) Plumbing Hardware: Wrenches, Files and Standard Pliers
As you may have been able to guess from the title of this article, a lot of the success of at-home drain cleaning comes down to the hardware tools you have handy when dismantled severely clogged drain fixtures.
When removing drain traps (U-traps, S-traps and etc.), which use gravity for form a barrier between the air in your home and harmful sewage air, make sure your plumbing toolbox has the following equipment. It’s very likely, if not almost guaranteed, that you’ll find need for them:
- Basin and pipe wrenches
- Pipe cutters
- Metal files
- Tubing cutters
3.) Hot Water/Acidic Soda Cleansing
For DIY drain pipe cleaning, some of the most effective techniques are also the simplest. Consider, for example, flushing your affected drain pipes with a hot water cleanse. The simple application of hot water can be enough, in many cases, to dislodge and break apart clogged debris, such as hair, food particles or soap residue.
Even if hot water flushing does not resolve pipe clogging, you may find conventional soda products of great use when dealing with a drain issue. The naturally occurring acids and carbonation of sugary sodas can actually be used to dislodge common clogging material with relative ease. Just make sure to follow a soda flush afterwards with hot water, to ensure drain cleanliness and dispose of residue.
4.) Chemical (Non-Commercial) Cleaning Mixtures
In response to particularly stubborn clogged drain pipes, you may be pressed to purchase and use commercial, chemical drain cleaners. This is, in fact, one of the worst things you can do to your drains! The chemical reactions that make these products work can actually severely damage your drain pipes, and corrode at inner pipe walls.
Instead, consider using a reliable mixture of vinegar and baking soda, which, when combined in a mixture solution, react with the same principles in a much safer way to eliminate clogging. The reaction between these two products is much more contained than those created by chemical cleaners, and provides a safer alternative for dealing with tougher drain cleaning jobs.
5.) Professional Drain Snakes (or Augers)
Sometimes, however, the tools you already have at home may not be enough to help you resolve stubborn drain clogs. In these cases, you may want to look into either hiring a professional plumbing specialist to diagnose and resolve your drain cleaning problems, or purchasing professional-grade similar to those the experts use on a day-to-day basis.
Drain snakes, or augers, are the elongated, metal snaking tools professional plumbers use to catch, dislodge and remove severe clogged materials. They are more effective than any other tool in this article, but also relatively uncommon compared. However, you can pick up a professional drain snake at your local home improvement store, and handle all future clogs with the same techniques as the pros.