The first thing that you may think of when you have a clogged drain is to grab the plunger. This may work in some cases, but in others, it can make your problems far worse. Here are some of the common ways a homeowner might clear a drain, and why they may consider having a plumber do the work.
The Nature of a Clog
A variety of substances make their way down your drain. Hair, grease and food are the biggest culprits. Once something sticks to the side of a drain pipe, other materials will accumulate. A soft clog, such as hair, creates a blockage in the drain but can be broken up and pushed through. A hard clog, such as some food items, will harden and become hard to remove unless it's dissolved or drilled through with a plumbing snake.
Options for Getting Rid of a Clog
Plunger - If you have the right type, you can often remove a soft clog with a plunger. The cup-style plunger is the common one seen in homes. It has a flat bottom that fits around the drain opening. The flange-style has a portion that sits inside of the drain. Use the cup plunger in the kitchen and bathroom sinks. The flange plunger is best in the toilet and bathtub where there is little flat space around the drain opening.
The problem with a plunger is that you can push a soft clog further down into the drain making it even harder to remove. It also has little effect on hard clogs. You also increase the pressure in the drain pipe when plunging against a clog that won't move. If the pressure is great enough, you can force pipes apart or cause them to burst. Once you think you've encountered a hard clog, it's time to stop plunging and call a plumber. Or try one of these other methods.
Chemical Drain Cleaners - These are always dangerous and must be used precisely as noted on the side of the container. If you use too much of the product, or pour it through hot water, it can splash on you causing a serious burn. You should never use a plunger after you've poured drain cleaner into a drain because of the risk of splashing. If the drain cleaner doesn't quickly clear out the clog, have a plumber deal with it since you now have a clog and a drain full of caustic material to remove.
Plumbing Snakes - These can be metal or plastic, coils, wires or tubes which drill into the clog to remove it. There are snakes made for the homeowner that, if you're careful, will remove a hard clog. Push the snake slowly and gently into the drain. Allow the snake to grab the clog and drill through it. Do not attempt to force the snake through the clog or you may break a drain pipe.
If you have a home with old plumbing pipes, there may be rust in them that makes it easier for you to punch a hole through the pipe with the snake. This is when you should rely on a plumber who has a feel for working with a snake to clear a clog.
You don't want to have to rely on a plumber every time you have a clogged drain. But understand when you can safely deal with a clog, and when you should call the plumber such as someone from Harding Plumbing & Heating.