Having a blocked drain is no fun, especially if it’s during the holidays or before you’re hosting a dinner party. In many cases, you’ll have to hire a plumber to unblock your drain, but if you have the right tools for unblocking drains, you might be able to do it yourself. Even if you can’t fix the problem permanently, you may be able to repair it temporarily until after the holidays or the event passes, and you have more time. Here are some of the tools that can help make this happen.
Of course, a plunger is an old standby that can help unclog some drains. They are typically used to unclog a toilet, but if your sink or shower drain clog is not too large, a plunger can help here too. You don’t need to hire a plumber to see if you can loosen the clog with a plunger, but if it doesn’t work, it could indicate that the clog is relatively large. If this is the case, you may need to try another tool.
Manual Drain Snake
You may not have a manual drain snake on hand, but you can pick one up for a relatively low price at your local hardware store. As the name suggests, a manual drain snake is an extended cable that looks like a snake. It has a corkscrew at one end designed to hook the clog and at least loosen it enough to push it down the pipe with water. The corkscrew may also pull some of the clogs back through the drain.
On the opposite end of the cable is a crank. Put the corkscrew end of the snake into the drain. Then using the crank, turn the snake until it reaches the clog and continues manoeuvring the cable until the clog breaks up. After pulling the snake back through the drain, run water to flush the clog through the pipe.
A hair snake is a special kind of drain snake specifically designed to remove a clog made of hair from a shower drain. Sometimes, you might get a hair clog in a sink, but it’s more likely to occur in the shower because that’s where most hair is shed. A hair snake is a thin strip of plastic with a handle on one end and barbs on the snake end that goes into the drain.
These barbs are designed to snag on any hair in the drain as the snake is pushed through the drain and pipe. These snakes are not very long (usually less than two feet or so), but hair clogs don’t usually form much deeper than this, so they can be very effective at removing hair from the drain so that water can flow freely again. Hair snakes are very cheap and can quickly solve a drain clog problem.
A drain auger is similar to a drain snake but is bigger and designed for clogs in larger drains and toilets. If your clog is in a sink, you should probably try the manual snake instead of an auger, but if your clog is in a larger drain like one in the laundry room or possibly a shower, a drill will be more effective. This will take up more space in the pipe and clear out larger clogs. A smaller snake may weave through a clog in a significant drain without loosening it enough to allow water to flow freely through the pipe.
While you aren’t likely to have a hydro-jet tool on hand to unclog a drain, plumbers do use this tool on, particularly stubborn clogs. A hydro-jet sends a highly pressurized stream of water into the drain and down the pipe to push clogs free. This tool works quickly and is usually more time-efficient than a manual snake, but it is not cheap. Your best bet would be to borrow a hydro-jet from someone you know who has one rather than buy one to unclog your drain. Unless that is, you plan to have many such clogs in the future that warrants the purchase of one.
Clogs are a real pain in the neck, especially if you’re expecting company or can’t get a plumber to come out because of a holiday or other special event. Fortunately, some tools will allow you to attempt to clear the clog yourself. Most clogs can be at least temporarily fixed this way, so having some of these tools on hand can help you get out of a jam until you can call a plumber to come help.