Blocked Pipes: Fixing Clogged Drain Pipes

kitchen sink plumbing

A drain that runs sluggishly or is completely stopped up is usually clogged with grease, soap, hair, or a solid object. The pipes themselves are usually all right.

Projects in Clogged Pipes

Preventive measures
Always use the toilet, not a sink, to dispose of semisolid waste. However even a toilet cannot handle large objects.

Equip sinks and tubs with strainers and regularly clear away hair and fibers.

Food that has been ground in a garbage disposer can form a thick paste, especially if grease is part of the mix. Keep grease out of the sink whenever possible. Use cold water when running the disposer, then run hot water for a few seconds to clear the trap.

Diagnosing and unclogging
If only one fixture is sluggish or stopped up, the clog is probably in the fixture's trap or the branch drain line. If more than one fixture is affected, the problem is farther down the line -- most likely in a drainpipe or even the stack. If all the fixtures on the first floor are sluggish or stopped, the main drain may need to be augered -- a job for professionals.

This section describes basic unclogging methods, beginning with the simplest. Start by plunging. If that doesn't work move on to dismantling a trap and possibly replacing the trap. If the problem is farther down the line, use an auger.

Bathtubs, bathroom drains, and kitchen strainers all call for special.

Working safely
Chances are you will get splashed while unclogging a drain. If drain cleaner has been poured down the drain, unclogging it can be dangerous. When working with drain cleaner, wear plastic gloves, long sleeves, and safety goggles. Cover the work area with an old rug or a drop cloth before starting work.

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