From the Toolbox:
- Plumbing snake or drain auger
- Rubber gloves
- Flashlight (optional)
- Allen wrench
Toilets, sinks, and disposals, oh my! When it comes to unclogging these things, it can get really messy, really quick. No one likes a backup of dirty fluid or a drain that won’t function. If your sink is what’s clogged, you’ll want the bucket. Start by placing the bucket underneath your sink to catch any water that may leak out if you have to get “hands on” with the pipes. Be sure to wear rubber gloves, otherwise you’ll risk getting your hands in muck.
Once the bucket is in place, fill the clogged portion of the sink with about 3-6 inches of warm water. Plunge the sink to release the clog. You’ll want to plunge forcefully for at least 30 seconds. Plunging works better in dual sinks if you hold a damp cloth over the free drain.
Do not plunge your sink if you have poured any sort of chemical or drain cleaner in it. If the clog breaks free, the chemicals could splash back up into the sink and onto you, causing a reaction or injury, especially to the eyes, nose, and throat.
If you’ve come to believe that the clog is stuck in the pipes below, then you’ll need to disassemble those and unclog them manually. Start by unscrewing the pipes slowly while the bucket is still underneath them to catch any flow of “gunk” that may be trapped in there. Rinse thoroughly to remove the buildup and reassemble.
If none of this solves the clogging problem, you’ll want to bring out the snake. Snakes, or drain augers, are used for more complicated clogs that are deep in the system, which is why they usually run at lengths of about 20-25 feet for household models.
Garbage disposals require a bit more mechanical finesse. If you hear a soft humming sound from your garbage disposal when you turn it on, that usually means it is clogged. If your garbage disposal is the problem, you’ll need that flashlight to get underneath the sink and reset the motor. Unplug your disposal before you begin working on it. Most of the time you can manually free up the clog in your garbage disposal by turning the blades with an Allen wrench. Simply find the hole on the bottom of the disposal, insert the Allen wrench, and turn. This solves most disposal problems in less than 30 minutes.
The toilet is a much more daunting task, simply because it is the toilet. No one likes cleaning it, let alone trying to repair it. However, sometimes accidents happen and toilets become clogged. The plunger you’ll want to purchase for bigger clogs is one with a longer rubber flange attached. This needs to be pulled out and directly inserted into the deepest part of your toilet to ensure the best seal. Slowly push the plunger down into the toilet at a slight angle to remove as much air as possible and, like the sink situation, plunge forcefully several times. Pop the plunger off for added strength in pushing the clog through, and your toilet should function like new afterwards.