Closet auger, Suction cup plunger, Force ball plunger,
Penetrating oil, "O" rings of assorted sizes, Work gloves,
Hammer, Plumbing wrenches, Chemical drain cleaner,
Plumber's snake or drain auger, Plastic or galvanized
pail, Graphite packing, Hand cleaner, Punch or cold
chisel, Hacksaw, Sewer cleanout tape
Here are simple, easy to follow instructions on unstopping
clogged drains, toilets and sewers. Read these
instructions carefully before undertaking these jobs.
Unstopping Clogged Sink Drains
If drain is sluggish but not completely clogged, turn on
the hot water tap and let the hot water run for
approximately 5 to 10 minutes. This sometimes opens the
drain. If running hot water does not open the sluggish
drain, try a strong chemical drain opener. Such cleaners
are available in several forms. They are made primarily
from caustic soda with bauxite and other ingredients. Read
the label on the drain cleaner and follow manufacturer's
instructions. After using any chemical cleaner, flush the
cleaner from the drain pipes by letting the hot water run
at least 10 minutes.
Opening Drains that are Completely Clogged
In some cases, a simple suction cup is all that is
required to open a clogged sink drain. First, remove the
basket strainer from the drain. Run hot water until it
stands about 2" deep in the sink. Take a suction cup
plunger and pump up and down directly over the clogged
drain. The water in the sink provides a seal. If the
suction cup does not clear the drain in a few minutes, you
will probably be forced to remove some of the pipes to get
the job done.
If you cannot open the drain with the suction cup, set a
pail underneath the sink trap and remove the cleanout plug
and washer. If the drain is only slightly clogged, a few
quick probes with a screwdriver may solve the problem. If
a few probes with a screwdriver do not open it, use a
snake or drain auger through the pipe.
A drain auger works best if you rotate it, feed it in a
short distance and then rotate it again. By repeating
this, the drain auger can be inserted deeply into the
pipe. After the drain pipe is opened, replace the cleanout
plug and washer and run hot scalding water through the
pipe to carry away any accumulations.
Unstopping Clogged Lavatory Drains
If the lavatory drain is only slightly clogged, you can
sometimes open it by removing the drain stopper and
probing for hair and other debris with a short piece of
wire. If this does not work, try a plunger. Since lavatory
drains have overflow outlets, it will be necessary to plug
these with tape or rage before using a plunger. After
plugging these overflow drains, use the plunger exactly as
you would in opening an ordinary sink.
If the wire and plunger treatments do not work, use a sink
auger or plumber's snake. This can sometimes be done
without removing the sink trap. If none of these efforts
work, set a pail under the lavatory and remove the trap.
Cover the chrome nut with a rag or tape to prevent marring
by the wrench. Loosen the thumb screw on the plumber's
snake and move the handle back about 3'. Insert the snake
into the drain pipe, rotate the auger, feed it in, then
rotate again. By repeating this process, the snake can be
driven deeply into the drain pipe.
Unstopping Bathtub Drains
It is always well to try the running hot water, the
plunger or the chemical method in attempting to unstop
bathtub drains. Remember to plug the overflow outlet
before using a plunger. If the chemical, the plunger or
the hot water treatments do not open the clogged drain,
the drum trap cover will have to be removed. The drum trap
is usually mounted directly underneath the tub. Removing
the drum trap cover can be extremely difficult.
First, apply a good grade of penetrating oil to the drum
trap cover, let it sit a while and then attempt to remove
the cover with a large wrench. Turn counter-clockwise to
remove the cover. If you cannot budge it with a wrench, it
may be necessary to cut notches in the cover edge with a
hacksaw. A hammer and punch or cold chisel can then be
used to remove the cover. Once the cover is removed, a
drain auger can be used to unclog the stopped pipes.
Opening a Clogged Toilet
In most cases a clogged toilet can be opened by using a
force ball type plunger, (A). A regular suction cup
plunger, (B), will seldom do the job. A force ball type
plunger exerts a great deal more pressure for cleaning
toilets than the regular type. Be sure to have sufficient
water in toilet bowl when using the plunger.
If the plunger does not clear the clogged drain, use a
closet auger. Start the auger or snake into the bowl and
continue to crank it until it becomes tight. This cranking
and pulling action will usually bring up the object that
is causing the clogging. If the closet auger is not
effective, use a small snake in the same way as described
for opening lavatory drains.
If neither the plunger, the closet auger, nor the snake
removes the obstruction, it may be necessary to remove the
toilet from the floor, turn it upside down and force the
obstruction out from the top or bottom. If it becomes
necessary to remove the toilet from the floor, use either
a wax preformed "O" ring or fresh plumber's putty in
reseating the toilet when it is replaced.
Opening Clogged Sewers
There are three basic causes for clogged sewers. Excessive
mortar left at soil pipe joints may start a build-up which
may eventually clog the sewer pipe. Roots from trees and
nearby plants may also enter the soil pipe at the joints.
This may seem impossible, but roots are seeking water and
they often force their way right through the mortar into
the pipe if given time. Broken soil pipe permits foreign
matter to enter the drainage system.
This can often cause clogging. To open a clogged sewer,
set a container just underneath the cleanout plug. Loosen
the plug just enough to permit water and waste to flow
into the container. When all the water and waste has
drained out, remove the plug and insert a cleanout tape.
Rotate the reel clockwise as you unroll it and push the
tape forward into the sewer pipes.