Clogged drains are probably the most common plumbing problems in residential settings. Drains for sinks, bathtubs, and other plumbing fixtures can be clogged with food, grease, hair, soap residue, and other materials that are commonly sent down the drain. To unclog a drain:
- Try a sink plunger, either one of the standard cup-style plungers or one of the newer models shaped like a bellows to create more pressure. Place the plunger end over the drain hole and make sure you have a good seal around the edge of the plunger cup. Work the plunger up and down several times, checking frequently to see if the clog is gone and water is running.
- Use a commercial drain cleaner. This type of chemical is designed to flow through the drain to the clog. When it makes contact with the clog, it dissolves the material and opens the drain. Be careful with these chemicals and follow directions exactly.
- Use a drain auger. A drain auger, sometimes called a "snake," is a pointed piece of coiled wire at the end of a long cable. The cable is fitted down the drain and is rotated, creating a force that physically breaks up or bores through the clog.
Clogged toilets have much in common with clogged drains, with the added unpleasantness of dealing with human waste. Heavy-duty toilet plungers can be used to loosen the clog and force it on down the toilet drain. Toilet clearing drain cleaners are also available. A drain auger could also be used to clear a toilet clog.
Remember that any tools used to clear a toilet should not be used to clear sink drains, especially those in kitchens or where persons may be exposed to waste material.