The timing is never good. It’s 3 a.m. Or the company is in town on holiday. Perhaps you’ve been sick and don’t want to deal with anything more complicated than aspirin and your pillow.
The fates are unsympathetic and without warning, your drains decide to stop functioning, leaving you in the lurch and faced with a dilemma that won’t wait. You could feel sorry for yourself--or you could take action and employ the following tips to right your ship.
Unblock your drains like a pro? Of course you can do it.
Never jump into your plumbing dilemma without thinking first of your safety and well being. Unless you’re a scientist, you have no clue what lurks within drains, pipes and sewers and this is no time to find out. Taking proper precautions so you don’t expose your respiratory system or skin to bacteria, chemicals and fumes only takes minutes and pays big dividends. Don a mask, goggles and gloves at the very least. Protective clothing is recommended if you’re planning adventures extending beyond your home.
Locate the blockage
After gathering your tools and dressing for the occasion, it’s time for action that may require you to start at one or more drain covers obscuring the pipes that lead to your house. Head for the furthest one, pry open the drain cover and peek inside to assess whether the water chamber is full. This is where that screwdriver (or a crowbar in a pinch) comes in handy. If the chamber is empty, your problem is likely closer to your house. Work along the line, removing drain covers, until you spot the culprit.
Attack the blockage
Choose your weapons to do battle with the blockage. First line of defense? Drain rods. Attach multiple rods (with or without a plunger at the tip) to mine long lines, rotating the rods clockwise to unseat the blockage. Rotate them counterclockwise and you risk disconnecting rods. If your efforts are unsuccessful, call in a snake, the perfect routing tool to dislodge non-solid waste. Metal bristles scrape away clogs and snag refuse. Still blocked? You may need an augur, the superhero of drain liberators. Whether you use a manually-cranked or power driven augur, this should solve your problem. If not, time to call the plumber who will fix this and suggest a solution to prevent further blockages.
Assuming your efforts to unclog your drains using the aforementioned tips were successful, prime the pipeline to dislodge additional materials that remain in place by running hot tap water for at least five minutes. Next, take care of your personal needs: clean your safety gear to ready it for future adventures of the plumbing kind and wash up. After all, you’ve now got clean-running drains ready to tackle anything you throw their way.