Life is hectic and every minute of your time is valuable. So when you encounter a common plumbing problem such as a clogged drain, we understand why a “quick-fix” sounds appealing. For many homeowners, that means reaching for a bottle of liquid or gel drainer cleaner. But is that really a good idea?
Why you should avoid using drain cleaners
Most drainer cleaner products use harsh chemicals that can end up doing more harm than good to your plumbing. They use caustic substances, oxidizing ingredients, or acids to cause chemical reactions that may help dissolve or loosen some clogs. However, the chemicals can also corrode metal pipes or create heat that weakens PVC plastic pipes. So using these products can increase the chance of having a burst pipe or major plumbing issue in the future.
Also, these products don’t work for all types of clogs (such as a piece of plastic that fell through the drain or a sewer line blocked by tree roots). So you may be pouring dangerous chemicals down the drain for no reason.
Safer ways to unclog a drain
If you’re dealing with a clogged drain and want to avoid harsh chemicals, there are a few safer methods you can try.
- Baking soda and vinegar. Make your own, more natural drain cleaner with two common ingredients found in your home. First, pour one cup of baking soda, then one cup of vinegar down the clogged drain. Let the mixture fizz for about 5 minutes. Then flush the drain with hot (but not boiling) water. The expanding fizz can help loosen up hair, soap, or whatever else is blocking the drain.
- Zip-It tool – The Zip-It is a simple, inexpensive tool that has small barbs that can catch hair or other solid debris. Just insert the tool a few inches into the drain (most clogs occur in the trap below the drain) and pull it back up. If you bring up a clump, that’s a good sign. Instead of a Zip-It, you can also use a metal wire hanger – just bend it straight and make a small hook at the end.
- Plumber snake – For more serious clogs, you may need to use a snake or auger tool. This has a flexible cable that can go deeper into the drain, and it’s stronger than a Zip-It to break up the clog.
When to call a professional plumber
If you try the methods above and still can’t seem to fix the issue, then it’s time to bring in the professionals. A licensed plumber has the experience and advanced equipment that can resolve even the most-stubborn clog. Also, it’s possible that the slow drain is just a symptom of a more serious plumbing issue.