How to Clear a Blocked Drain

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Home Improvement

Clearing Clogs in Floor Drains and Main Drainpipes


The main clean out, a Y-shaped fitting located near the bottom of the soil stack or where the drain exits the building, provides access to the main drain clog.

If you have a clogged floor drain, like those found in basements and showers, a garden hose is an effective tool. Attach the hose to a faucet, insert it into the drain as far as it will go, and pack rags around the hose at the opening. Turn on the water at full force for a few moments to unclog the drain, especially if the clog is not near the opening.

If you suspect the main drainpipe is clogged, locate the main clean out. This is a Y-shaped fitting near the bottom of the soil stack or where the drain exits the building. Place a large container under the clean out, and spread papers and rags around to absorb any overflowing water.

If the blockage remains, try the house trap, a U-shaped fitting installed underground. Locate it by identifying two adjacent clean-out plugs in the floor if the main drain runs underneath. Before you remove the clean out nearest to the sewer outside, place papers and rags around the site to prevent flooding.

If the blockage is in the house trap or between the trap and the main clean out, remove it as quickly as possible. If water flows from the trap as you unscrew it, use an auger to check beyond the house trap. If you cannot remove the blockage, replace the trap plug and call a professional.


The house trap is a U-shaped fitting installed underground, found by identifying two adjacent clean-out plugs in the basement floor. You can reach a blockage between the trap and the main clean out by removing the plug nearest to the main clean out.

If tree roots have grown into the main drain outside the building or a basement floor drain, a plunger or auger will not work. Instead, use an electric rooter or power auger, which cuts away roots from the pipe walls as it moves along. You can rent a power auger from a home improvement or tool rental store. Feed the auger cable into the cleanout opening nearest to the blockage. When the cutting head encounters roots, you will feel the cable strain. Keep feeding the cable slowly until you feel a breakthrough, then go over the area again.

To clear the drain of tree roots, first remove the cable slowly. Then, use a garden hose to flush out any remaining root cuttings. After doing so, replace the clean-out plug and flush the toilet several times to ensure the drain is clear. Lastly, clean the cable before returning it to the rental firm. The drain trap is an essential component of your home’s drainage system, and we will demonstrate how to replace it in the next section.

FAQ

1. What are the main causes of a clogged drain?

A clogged drain is usually caused by a buildup of hair, soap scum, food debris, and other types of waste that accumulate inside the pipes over time. Other factors that contribute to clogged drains include flushing inappropriate items down the toilet, pouring grease or oil down the drain, and tree roots growing into the pipes.

2. How can I prevent my drain from getting clogged?

You can prevent your drain from getting clogged by practicing good habits such as using a drain strainer to catch hair and food particles, disposing of grease and oil properly, and avoiding flushing inappropriate items down the toilet. Regularly cleaning your drain with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar can also help prevent clogs from forming.

3. What are some signs that my drain is clogged?

Some signs that your drain is clogged include slow draining water, foul odors coming from the drain, gurgling sounds, and water backing up into the sink or bathtub. If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible to prevent further damage to your plumbing system.

4. What tools do I need to unclog a drain?

To unclog a drain, you will need a plunger, a drain snake, or a plumbing auger. You may also need a bucket, a pair of gloves, and some towels to protect your surroundings and clean up any spills.

5. How do I use a plunger to unclog a drain?

To use a plunger to unclog a drain, first, fill the sink or bathtub with enough water to cover the plunger. Make sure to create a tight seal around the drain with the plunger, and then pump the plunger up and down vigorously for about 20 seconds. Repeat this process several times until the clog is cleared.

6. How do I use a drain snake or plumbing auger to unclog a drain?

To use a drain snake or plumbing auger to unclog a drain, insert the tool into the drain and turn the handle clockwise to extend the cable into the pipe. Once the tool reaches the clog, turn the handle counterclockwise to break up the blockage. Then, retract the cable and flush the drain with hot water to clear any remaining debris.

7. What are some natural remedies for unclogging a drain?

You can try using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to unclog a drain naturally. Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of vinegar. Wait for about 30 minutes, and then flush the drain with hot water.

8. When should I call a professional plumber?

If you have tried using a plunger, drain snake, or natural remedies and the clog persists, or if you suspect that the clog is caused by a more serious issue such as tree roots or a damaged pipe, it’s best to call a professional plumber. Attempting to fix the problem yourself could cause further damage and end up costing you more in the long run.

9. How can I prevent future clogs from forming?

To prevent future clogs from forming, make sure to dispose of waste properly, avoid pouring grease or oil down the drain, and use a drain strainer to catch hair and food particles. You can also consider scheduling regular drain cleaning and maintenance with a professional plumber.

10. How much does it cost to unclog a drain?

The cost of unclogging a drain can vary depending on the severity of the clog, the location of the clog, and the method used to clear the blockage. On average, you can expect to pay between $100 and $300 for professional drain cleaning services.

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