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Fighting the Clogged Bathroom Drain

Of the most disgusting problems you might face in your home, a clogged bathroom drain surely ranks near the top of the list. But while it's disgusting, it's really not as difficult as you sometimes think to correct the problem. Here are the things you need to remember:

  • The first thing to try with any clogged drain is the old-standby: the plunger.  The majority of clogs can be cleared with just a few thrusts of this cheap plumber's friend. Remember to try this before you use any chemical agent, so that you don't risk splashing the chemical up on yourself.
  • If the plunger doesn't work, the next step is to use a chemical drain-opener.  You can buy these at most home-improvement or hardware stores--or just at your local Wal-Mart.  Remember to check the label though.  You need to make sure that the product you use can safely be used on PVC pipes.  Also, safety is an important consideration with most of these chemical products.  Make sure you don't spill any on you, (Wear gloves!) and never mix chemicals together.  You never know what reaction you might create--and some reactions could be toxic. Give the chemicals some time to clear the clog by themselves--before you decide to use the plunger also.  Remember: The idea is to avoid splashing chemicals while plunging, if possible.  If you do choose to plunge after using chemical, once again, it's imperative that you wear gloves.
  • If you've tried the above steps, but to no avail, buy a mechanical "snake" from a hardware store.  This device is made out of bendable metal that, when used, can move through all of the drain's curves, pushing out the clogs.
  • Better than unclogging a drain is avoiding the clog in the first place.  There are several ways to do this. Some of them are:

  1. Make sure to use a drain-strainer in your sink to trap food, hair and dirt which might tend to clog the drain.
  2. Rather than pouring food grease down the drain, use an old coffee can to collect it.
  3. There's an old trick that will help keep your drain clean that involves vinegar and baking soda.  Mix the two together and then slowly pour the mixture into the drain.  This will help to melt any grease that has collected in the drain before it becomes a more serious clog.
  4. If you'd prefer to stay away from the vinegar, then boil a medium-size pan full of water once a week, then pour the water down the drain. This achieves much the same result as the vinegar mixture mentioned above.
  5. One last home-brew:  Mix together an equal amount of salt and baking soda and sprinkle this down the drain.  Then pour six or seven cups of boiling water down right after the salt / baking soda mixture. Do this at night so the drain can sit unused over night. Then the next day, use hot tap water to flush out the drain.

There is one other item to consider for the prevention of future clogs: drainage traps.

These are inexpensive and do a good job of keeping small items that have fallen into the drain from going further down the pipes.  This way, if you drop something such as a ring or contact lens down into the drain, this trap will collect the object.  You'll need to remove a section of pipe to retrieve any object that the trap has caught.

None of these steps will make unclogging your drain fun. However, they will make the process of correcting the problem quicker -- thus shortening the unpleasantness that the clog brings you.

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