Drain Cleaning 101: How to Unclog Bathroom Drains
Materials: wire hanger, drain snake (if the wire hanger isn't enough), rubber gloves, baking soda and vinegar, liquid drain cleaner (optional), hair catcher (optional)
Time: 30 min.
- Removing hair and grime from your pop-up stopper is also an important habit to adopt. Before getting underneath the sink, raise the stopper lever fully so that the stopper is all the way closed and sealed. Underneath the sink, behind the main pipe running from your sink, you can see where the pop-up stopper mechanism is connected. It is a horizontal pivot rod that is connected to the clevis strap (has many holes in it for height adjustments). Disconnect the metal arm (or clevis strap) by bending the small piece of metal (spring clip) holding it in place. The spring clip keeps the clevis strap in place and allows you to adjust the height of your stopper mechanism. The stopper will release as soon as the pivot rod is out of the drainpipe.
Unhitch the pivot rod from the stopper so that you can get access to the drain.
- After disconnecting the pivot rod, the plastic pop-up stopper should be free to pull out, allowing you to pull it up and out of the sink. But before you pull the stopper out, put on your rubber gloves, because it is about to get gross. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
- Pull the stopper out and clean it off in a different sink. Do NOT turn on the sink you are unclogging! Clean all parts with rubbing alcohol or a bleach solution. Put the clean stopper aside as you grab your wire hanger and bend it into a hook shape (you can use needle-nosed pliers to help). Use the hook-shaped hanger and pull out as much gunk as you can. If you have a drain snake, you can use that instead. You can use an old toothbrush to clean the sides of the pipe. You might also be able to pull some hair gunk through the hole where you took the pivot rod from. If you think that there is a clog in the P-bend of the pipe, you can go ahead and unscrew the P-bend and clear out any obstructions that might be there; however, simply cleaning out the stopper will fix most bathroom sink clogs. You can also remove the P-bend if you prefer to remove the clog down through the pipe instead of up and out through the sink bowl.
- Pour some baking soda and vinegar slowly into the drain. Remember those old science fair erupting volcanoes? Well, that's why you should pour the ingredients in slowly. Follow with some boiling water, and your drain should be clean and clear and under control. If you would rather use a liquid drain cleaner, follow the instructions on the bottle.
- It is important that you be proactive with your drains and not simply wait for a problem to occur. Turn on all sinks, showers and tubs to make sure that everything is draining properly and quickly. If any of these are draining slowly, address the problem quickly before it gets worse. Here is a video that shows you how to use a drain snake and plunger to unclog tubs:
U se a drain snake or auger for drains that are too stubborn to be unclogged by a wire hanger.
- Go ahead and take a look at your p-traps located under your sinks to make sure they aren't leaking. Look for any signs of moistures. If there are, in fact, signs of leakage, check to see that all the pipes are tight. If all looks right then it may simply be time to replace your p-trap.