Slow drains can be extremely frustrating to the home owner and even more frustrating to people who live in apartments. Fortunately, you don't have to always wait for the management company to send a repairman. There are plenty of things you can do on your own to fix a slow drain. This article will discuss a variety of tools and tricks for maintaining a fast moving drain and clearing a clogged one.
For starters, when it comes to maintaining a healthy drain, an ounce of prevention is worth a truckload of drain-fixing tools. Want to know a simple way to keep a free-flowing drain healthy? Hot water. Put the stopper in your sink drain or shower drain, and run the hot water directly from the tap and fill up the basin. Then pull the plug, and allow the hot water to continue to run for another thirty seconds after the basin empties. The hot water breaks up old accumulations in the waste line. By doing this once every few weeks, it will prevent a new line from ever having clogs, and will also help clear out an older drain line over time. Another trick is a cap-full of bleach once a week into every drain in the house. These simple tips for keeping drains clear will save you a lot of money in the long run.
If your drains do end up clogged, the problem usually lies in one of two areas: localized obstruction and vertical or horizontal clog.
A localized obstruction is usually in a fixture trap, in a mechanical waste fixture or appliance, or where the drain piping makes an abrupt change in direction. The obstruction is usually easy to clear with a wire or by using a plunger. Most often the object is a small toy, cotton ball, toothpick, or something similar. Removal of the item typically clears the slow drain immediately.
Horizontal and vertical clogs are a result of years of waste accumulation within the drain pipe. The slow, steady buildup of material eventually restricts the flow of water. Over time, the drain works slower and slower, eventually coming to a complete stop. To clear these types of clogs, you will need an auger or some form of liquid drain cleaner such as an Enzymatic drain cleaner.
If you decide to use a liquid drain cleaner, you have three primary types to choose from:
Alkaline cleaners are your basic supermarket products. These are poured directly into the drain. They will work on simple hair and grease clogs, but won't do much to clear long-term waste accumulation.
Enzymatic Cleaners are an environmentally friendly drain cleaner that use enzymes to break down clogs. However, they are slow to work, often taking three or four days to realize significant results. Enzymatic Cleaners are perfect for drain maintenance.
Acidic Cleaners are extremely effective but can be quite destructive in the wrong hands. They will dissolve most anything clogging a drain. They will also dissolve metal, porcelain, and degrade aluminum and Stainless Steel. Only use an Acidic Cleaner as a last resort.
If you decide to use a mechanical device to clear your drain, here are the standard tools of the trade:
Plunger - your basic plunger can clear obstructive clogs from both the tub and the kitchen sink. A tight seal is needed if they are to work. Be careful when using a plunger, especially if you pour a chemical drain cleaner into the drain first. Splash back can be very harmful to your face and eyes. Use safety goggles or a splash back mask.
Drain Auger - this is a device that has coiled wiring attached to a handle and crank. If you buy one of these, make sure to purchase one that keeps the coil within a protective housing. The housing will keep you, your project, and your home clean by keeping the drain slime within the housing.
Closet Auger - (also called a water closet) this device is a three foot tube with a right-angle bend at the bottom. Inside the tube is a cable and crank rod. This device is perfect for clearing stubborn toilet clogs.
Power Auger - these are essentially the same as a Drain Auger but with a motor to facilitate the breaking up of long-term pipe accumulation. These are costly machines and are usually only purchased by professional plumbers.
Those are the basic tips and tools for keeping household drain pipes clear. If you follow the hot water technique, you might not ever need to use any of the above listed drainers and mechanical devices. And if you ever come across a stubborn drain, you can always hire a plumber. Although they can be expensive, they usually have the right equipment and (more importantly) the necessary experience to know how to solve any drain problem.