The Pitfalls Of Cleaning Out Your Own Drain At Home
Your first instinct when a drain is clogged is to reach for a plunger. Depending on where the clog is and what the clog is made of, this could be a bad idea. You could cause more harm to your plumbing while trying to clear you own drain. Some jobs are best left to a professional drain cleaning service. Here are a few of the ways that you can get into trouble while attempting your own drain unclogging at home.
Not Understanding the Nature of a Clog
Not all drain clogs are alike. Knowing what type of clog you have determines the best approach for clearing it. There are two types of drain clogs:
Soft clog - These happen most often in the bathroom sink, tub, and shower drains. Hair and skin cells build up in the drain and slow down the flow of water. These clogs never solidify and can usually be cleared by pulling the material up out of the drain.
Hard clog - This is the typical kitchen drain clog where sticky material has attached to the sides of the drain pipe and created a complete blockage. A handful of potato peelings, a bowl of white rice, or a pan of grease can all clog the drain. If treated quickly, a plunger may be used to pull material up out of the drain to get the water moving again. If left to sit, the blockage becomes a hard mass that must be removed in pieces or by dissolving with chemicals.
Incorrect Usage of the Tools to Remove a Clog
You can easily damage the plumbing pipes, and yourself, if you don't choose the right tools or use them properly to clear a clog. Some of the hazards you can encounter include:
Using the wrong plunger - The standard plunger looks like an inverted bowl. The edges must seal around the drain to be effective. The bell plunger has a rubber flap that sits inside of the drain to create that seal. A bell plunger is required to clear a toilet clog while the standard plunger is used in sinks and tubs. If your plunger is not making a good seal around the drain, you'll use too much force and may force the drain pipe to come apart or crack the toilet bowl or sink.
Misusing a plumber's snake - Digging a hard clog out of a kitchen drain with a snake should be left up to a plumbing service. If you feed the snake down the drain incorrectly or use too much force, you could push the snake through the side of a drain pipe, creating an expensive repair bill.
Not following the chemical's instructions - There is a reason that the bottle of a chemical drain cleaner is covered with warnings and instructions. Some chemicals will burn your eyes and skin if you splash it on them. Most chemicals include warnings about pouring them through standing water because a chemical reaction may cause the water to bubble and splash on you. Use a chemical precisely as directed on the bottle, and only use it once to try to clear a clog. After that, call a plumber to finish the job.