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Tools You May Need to Use to Unclog Your Drain

by April Carlson

Most people know all of the signs and symptoms of a clogged drain. A clog is normally prefaced by the water draining more slowly or a foul odor emitting from the materials trapped within the drain. While some people may try to address the clog at this point, others will wait until they have standing water that will not move. No matter what state your drain is in, there are several tools that will make unclogging your drain easier. 

A Wire Clothes Hanger

Many times when you have a clog in your bathtub or shower, it is due to a combination of some common elements. These include 

  • soap scum,
  • hair,
  • dead skin cells,
  • mineral deposits,
  • trash, and more.

Most of these things, with the exception of the mineral deposits, can be fished out of your drain with a really simple tool or a wire coat hanger. The beauty is that this is a tool you can usually put your hands on quickly.

Once you retrieve a clothes hanger, untwist it, straighten it out, and then bend one end into a small hook. Push this tool past the drain cover and fish out whatever is causing your clog. Once you reach the clog, resist the urge to attempt to push the clog through because you will run the risk of it getting stuck further down. Use the hook to pull the materials up and out of your drain. 

A Toilet Plunger

Although most people are comfortable using a toilet plunger to unstop a toilet, they often do not think about using one on a clogged drain in a sink or in the tub. A plunger is very simple to use, although it can sometimes get a little messy. There are two different styles of plungers:

  • Cup—This is the classic style of plunger that can be found in most homes. This works best when it is being used on a drain that is surrounded by a flat surface. In addition to toilets this type is the most useful when unclogging sinks, tubs, and showers.
  • Flange—This plunger resembles a cup sitting on top of a nozzle. These work better on older models of toilets.

For the best results, remove the stopper and/or strainer out of your drain. This will give the plunger a clearer path and will allow you to apply more suction power. If you do not have standing water in your sink or tub, you need to add water until you have a few inches of standing water for a plunger to work correctly. It uses the water to create and push the suction through your drain in an attempt to unstop your clog.

A Closet Auger/Toilet Auger/Plumbing Snake

No matter what name you use, this tool can be valuable in reaching a clog that is slightly further down your drain. It can be used to break up the clog or to grab the clog and pull it out. While augers can vary slightly based on manufacturers, most are constructed from a long flexible metal shaft with an auger bit on one end and a crank handle on the other end. A closet auger is best used for snaking a clog out of a toilet drain, as the auger end is bent at the angle needed to fit through the toilet trap. 

Insert the auger bit slowly into your open drain. Feed the wire into the opening a few inches at a time to avoid damaging the pipe in your drain. Once this is done, begin to slowly turn the crank to extend the auger further into the drain. If it seems to be having difficulty advancing and there is no standing water in the drain, add a little. This will help to lubricate the auger and make the process a little bit easier. 

When the auger is no longer moving, assume you have reached the clog and begin to wiggle the auger bit back and forth to help to loosen the clog. After you have wiggled it back and forth, pull the auger bit out to try to pull out the obstruction. If this is not successful, try pushing through the clog to dislodge it, break it up, and rinse it down the drain.

If one of these tools does not break up your clog, you will need to call a professional plumber, like one from Doctor Fix-It. They will come with the experience, knowledge, and additional tools they can use to unstop your clog no matter where it is in your drain.