Simple steps for unclogging a bathroom drain

Water not draining - Plumber in PhiladelphiaIt’s that awkward feeling that you have when you’re brushing your teeth with the water running and see your bathroom sink not draining properly. Naturally, it always happens when you’re in a hurry to get to work. Understanding that many of the homes and plumbing in our great city of Philadelphia are older, especially in some of the older apartment complexes, unclogging drains can be a regular occurrence. In this article we will look at some simple steps to follow to unblock a clogged bathroom drain.

What causes a bathroom sink not to drain properly?

Before we discuss how to free up a clogged bathroom drain we need to discuss what causes your bathroom sink in Philadelphia to not drain properly in the first place. At iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains we have seen that bathroom drains are particularly susceptible to clogging for a few reasons:

  1. Bathroom drains are smaller in diameter – compared to the kitchen and utility drains, bathroom plumbing is traditionally smaller making them more susceptible to clogging.

  2. Health and beauty products – health and beauty products can be made out of chemicals that are not easily biodegradable. Conditioners, coloring agents and lotions that are poured or rinsed into the bathroom sink may not cause an immediate backup; however, done so over a period of time can quickly create a buildup on the walls of the drainpipes that will slowly build to a restriction of water flow. For this type of buildup, traditional methods of extraction are not as effective as chemical agents which should be used sparingly if not by a professional plumbing service.

  3. Hair and debris – the bathroom sink becomes an all-purpose portal for hair, nail clippings, dirt, etc… All of which do not go down the drain without a fight. Hair especially can catch on the ribbed edges where the pipes connect as well as the sink stopper mechanism grabbing the hair to create an inevitable stoppage. For this type of blockage, chemical applications do not work as well as extracting the blockage; which may result in the disassembly of pipes or using a auger to remove the blockage.

  4. Areas outside of your control – this last reason for blockage is, for the most part, outside of your control; if there is a problem with the apartment building’s plumbing system or external influence within the drains (such as cracked underground pipes or tree roots growing through the main plumbing pipes) older apartments and homes in the Philadelphia area can find this to be a problem from time to time. Buildings and properties not properly maintained in Philadelphia by a professional plumber can lead to growing problems over the years that wind up in a complete blockage. This also means that you will have to go through the building supervisor, landlord or city to get the problem resolved.

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Ways to unclog a bathroom drain

The Plunger – Believe it or not, the plunger is one of the more effective tools used to free up a bathroom drain. By having the plunger move the water flow back and forth it can break free the debris that is creating the blockage. To properly use the plunger, as a way to unclog your bathroom sink:

  • Fill the sink up one quarter of the way

  • Place the plunger squarely over the drain creating a seal

  • Push down on the plunger

  • Then pull up sharply allowing the full suction of the plunger to pull the debris either into the sink or loosen it where it might drain.

  • Repeat as necessary

It’s noteworthy to mention that you may need to put on some old clothes to do this, when you are using the plunger in this manner it may slosh the dirty water on you.

You may also, for sinks that are equipped with an overflow drain, need to seal the overflow drain with your hand or piece of tape to get the best suction seal for this process.

Baking soda and vinegar – an old-school technique that is quite effective is using baking soda and vinegar. The technique is quite simple:

  • Remove the bathroom sink stopper, if equipped, so that you have clear access down to the blockage

  • Drain the water out as much as possible (it may be necessary to use a pump to extract the water down to the point of the blockage)

  • Place baking soda into the drain using a wooden spoon handle, or something similar, to pack the baking powder tight (you will want about 2 inches of packed baking soda in the pipe)

  • Pour a cup of vinegar down the drain and place in a bathroom sink stopper/cork (this will force the chemical reaction to move downward through the pipe rather than upward into the sink)

You may also, for sinks that are equipped with an overflow drain, need to seal the overflow drain with your hand or piece of tape to get the best suction seal for this process.

Give the process approximately 5 to 10 minutes to work its magic. If it seems that it is draining better but is not draining completely poor 4 cups of boiling water into the drain.

Drain Clearing Chemicals – drain clearing chemicals are a popular way of clearing out your drain. Much caution must be used as many of these chemicals are acidic in nature and can damage the lining of your thin plastic bathroom pipes. It is also important to realize that many of these chemicals are very dangerous if inhaled during the chemical process. Be sure to read the directions extremely carefully prior to use. It would be a wise choice to consult iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains in Philadelphia if you are unsure about using this method properly or safely.

Cable auger – most difficult of these processes is the use of a cable auger to extract the blockage.

  • First you must remove the trap or J-joint underneath the sink which connects the sink to the drainage pipes.

  • Next insert the auger pulling out the cable slowly while turning the handle clockwise until you reach the blockage.

  • Careful consideration should be made when using this method as any joints or tight turns within the drainage pipes might be damaged if you push the auger too hard or force it into the drainage pipes.

  • Once you reach the blockage begin to turn the handle counter-clockwise, this will reel in the cable and hopefully bring the clog with it.

NOTE: If not utilize properly the cable auger can damage the bathroom drains. For this reason we recommend that this method be utilized by a professional plumbing service such as “i*Fixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains”

When Experience Counts

iFixdit, LLC -Plumbing and Drains has been serving Philadelphia as a professionally licensed and registerd plumbing company for years. Our unique blend of customer satisfaction combined with experience derived from years of exclusively serving the residents of Philadelphia has created a reputation within our community of satisfied customers. Whether you have a bathroom drain that needs to be taken care of or you need a new water heater installed, rest assured that our licensed plumbers are ready to get the job done.

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