Unclog Drain Pipes
Drain Cleaners That Work TIPS
- Clean drains before they're clogged
- Homes built before 1950 can be a problem
- WATCH drain-pipe design VIDEO Below!
- Stain Solver oxygen bleach cleans well
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Backed Up Bathtub
Years ago, I injured my right heel coaching my daughter's soccer team. It was slow to heal and if I walked on it too much it ached. A hot bath temporarily provided some relief.
I needed to soak in the tub and went to my kids' bathroom as my wife and I only had a walk-in shower in our bathroom.
I filled the tub and relaxed. When finished, I moved the drain lever and absolutely nothing happened - I mean not even the slightest movement of water.
Let me add here I'm a master plumber. I've been one for decades. I know all about blocked drains and why they happen.
Why my kids didn't tell me the tub wouldn't drain is beyond mental comprehension.
I tried to plunge the line and nothing, but black gunk came backwards through the piping into the bathtub. An attempt to snake the line yielded no results.
I had horrible visions of cutting into the living room ceiling to cut apart the piping. I decided to try an off-the-shelf drain cleaner just to see if it would work. My past experiences with these products was not good.
New Thick Product
I went to the store and saw a new product - one that was thick - it claimed it would penetrate right to the clog through the standing water. I thought I would give it a try.
Realize that there are plumbers who specialize in cleaning out drains. It's their entire business. I had no intention of EVER being that type of plumber.
I enjoy installing new piping, or replacing old piping with new. Cleaning out drains? No way.
Secret Weapon - Wet / Dry Vac
Once home, I decided to improve my chances. It made sense to me to concentrate the power of the product by removing the standing water. I bailed the tub as much as possible.
I then fired up my wet-dry vacuum and sucked all the water from the tub and trap. To get the water from the trap, I made sure I inserted a wet rag into the tub overflow. Without this rag, I would have just sucked air through the overflow past the trap water while it remained in the drain.
With the piping clear of all water, I poured in the drain cleaning product and allowed it to sit for 30 minutes as directed.
I then covered the drain opening with my hand and filled the tub with water. I knew that the weight of the water would have a great impact on moving the clog - if the drain cleaner worked.
Once the tub filled, I moved my hand. BINGO! - the drained opened and water rushed out of the tub. I was astonished. I had never seen a drain cleaner work so well so fast.
This experience inspired me to write this article. Here's the product that worked for me:
Gel Drain Cleaners
The thick drain cleaners work better than old drain products because they are stickier. They stay at the clog site longer and thus have more time to dissolve and soften the clog.
The primary ingredient in most of the liquid drain cleaners is regular household chlorine bleach. Bleach can be used by anyone who has their house connected to a city sewage system.
Don't use concentrated chlorine bleach if you have a septic system! The chlorine kills the beneficial bacteria within the septic tank.
Oxygen Bleach - Probably Better!
There's another bleach you might not know about. It's oxygen bleach. I happen to love Stain Solver.
Stain Solver is a certified organic oxygen bleach Made in the USA with USA ingredients. It's an oxidizer just like smelly, toxic chlorine bleach.
Stain Solver is also a great drain cleaner. Just pour the powder down into a clogged drain and magic can happen in a few hours.
It works well to dissolve grease, black nasty biogoop, toothpaste and any other organic matter that's clogging the pipe.
The best way to use it is do exactly what I did to clear the clog in my bathtub. Once you've sucked the water out of the drain with a wet-dry vac, then pour 1/4 cup of the Stain Solver powder into the drain followed by one cup of boiling hot water.
Allow it to work for about two hours and see what happens.
Biofilm is gunk that builds up inside pipes. It is basically a glue-type substance that holds clogs together. The liquid drain cleaners do a great job of dissolving this bioflim. Once this happens, solid particles trapped in the biofilm can be flushed through the pipes.
This black goop on the side walls of drain pipes can also create an odor. You know you have biofilm buildup if you run water in a sink, tub or shower and the first seconds after the water goes into the drain a foul odor fills your nostrils.
Biofilm can buildup on the entire area of the drain pipe. When a pipe is not clogged, drain cleaners used to do preventive maintenance only attack the bioflim the liquid can touch. Here's a great one to use to clean your piping system:
This is why the new foaming drain cleaner is exciting. The foam fills up the entire pipe - when used according to directions - and attacks all of the biofilm buildup. At this time, only one manufacturer - Drano - offers this foaming drain clog product. I intend to try it tonight on my tub drain to clean any clog that might have been missed in my first successful attempt.
Enzyme drain cleaners eat the biofilm. If your drain is completely clogged, these cleaners are not the thing to use. You will need a powerful drain cleaner or a mechanical snake. The enzyme cleaners are perfect for septic systems and for preventative drain cleaning work. Use them on a regular basis in all systems before you get a solid drain stopping clog.
The enzymes work best in lukewarm water - perfect growth conditions for bacteria. They also need time to work. Use them when you don't plan to drain things down the pipes. If you pour the enzyme into your system and then brush your teeth, do laundry, dishes or use the toilet, you simply flush the cleaner down the system. Follow directions!
The Old-Fashioned Snake
Not too long ago I had a clog develop in my own home. It was a buildup of toilet paper caused by a malfunctioning low-flow toilet that was only discharging 1.5 QUARTS of water with each flush. I'm a master plumber and I HATE the low-flow toilets and feel the government should not force them on people like me that do NOT NEED THEM.
I live in a rural area on a well. Each time I flush my toilet and that water is sucked from my well, the exact same amount is put back into Mother Earth. No water is being wasted.
Rant is over. Sorry.
I cleared my clog in my main drain pipe under my concrete basement slab in about 45 SECONDS using an inexpensive traditional snake.
You can buy them in different lengths and here's the exact one I got. They are CHEAP!!!!
Buy one now and have it ready to go when you need it.
Once the clog is gone and the drain is working well you can prevent clogs by just forcing lots of water into the drain at one time.
For toilets, have two people in the bathroom with filled 5-gallon buckets. Flush the toilet and as most of the water is just about to leave the bowl BOTH people need to empty the buckets AS FAST AS POSSIBLE at the same time.
Pour as much as possible so the bowl doesn't overflow. This huge surge of water fills the 3-inch drain pipe to the max.
This giant slug of water has tremendous energy and it blasts out of the way any small buildup of crud, toilet paper, etc. keeping the drain wide open.
Fill sinks and tubs full with water and pull the plug to get the same effect on small-diameter drain pipes.
What Doesn't Work?
Forget about using the liquid drain cleaners for clogs in laundry drains. Why? Most laundry drain clogs are lint buildup caused by clothing fibers.
These fibers are not dissolved by the liquid drain cleaners. Capture washing machine lint with an old panty hose. Prevention is the best medicine for laundry drain clogs!
Drain Design VIDEO