Clogged drain lines are something everyone has encountered at one time or another, but unlike some other home maintenance problems, drain clogs usually build up slowly over time. Slow draining sinks, toilets, and tubs are a sign that there is some sort of blockage in your drain line. It may be a minor problem that can be fixed with a plunger, or it could be a larger problem that requires the use of chemical drain cleaners or even professional help from a plumber.This article will provide useful tips for clearing drains with chemical or homemade drain cleaners.
Clogged drain lines are something everyone has encountered at one time or another, but unlike some other home maintenance problems, drain clogs usually build up slowly over time. As long as the water goes down eventually, most people don’t seem to mind. Slow draining sinks, toilets, and tubs are a sign that there is some sort of blockage in your drain line. It may be a minor problem that can be fixed with a plunger, or it could be a larger problem that requires the use of chemical drain cleaners or even professional help from a plumber.
There are four common causes for slow drains:
1. Grease –Pouring grease down a drain can lead to a clog. As the grease cools it will solidify and other food particles can adhere to it. Grease also coats the inside of the pipe narrowing the diameter over time. The best way to avoid this problem is to dispose of grease in your garbage. If you have noticed a slow drain and think grease might be the culprit, try running hot water down the drain for a few minutes or pour a pot full of boiling water down the drain. The hot water will liquefy the grease so it can flow down the pipe.
2. Hair – Hair is another common reason for slow drains in bathroom sinks and shower drains. Hairs clogs build up slowly over time and as more and more hair enters the drain, it clings to the drain opening and eventually forms a thick mat that can collect other debris. Installing a hair trap in your drain can catch the hair but you will need to clean the hair trap on a regular basis. If you think a hair clog is forming it is best to remove the clog with a drain stick, snake, or liquid drain cleaner.
3. Soap scum – Similar to grease, soap scum can build up in your drain lines and lead to clogs. If your sink is draining slowly, just as with grease, run some hot water for a few minutes. The soap scum will melt and continue through the plumbing. Since it is difficult to prevent soap scum from building up, use a hot water treatment a few times a month to prevent buildup.
4. Minerals – If you live in an area with hard water, your drains can slow due to mineral buildup. Liquid drain cleaners or snakes can remove the buildup. Hydro-jet drain cleaning is another method for removing mineral deposits and large blockages from drain lines.
How Chemical Drain Cleaners Work
Drain cleaners come in liquid, gel and powder forms. Oxidizing drain cleaners contain chemicals that work to oxidize the clogs. Oxidizing cleaners are heavier than water, so they settle down to the source of the clog, releasing gas and heat to attempt to dissolve the clog. Caustic cleaners work to dissolve clogs by causing a chemical reaction. These cleaners are also heavier than water.
Acid drain cleaners are usually only available to professional plumbers. These cleaners also release heat to help dissolve the clog. Most drain cleaners require that you wait 15 minutes before flushing the drain with hot water. Sometimes, it is necessary to repeat the process.
Drain cleaners are created from toxic chemicals that can be dangerous to your health. If you use these cleaners, it is important to follow the directions and avoid any contact with your skin or eyes. If your plumbing is old chemical cleaners could cause damage your pipes as with galvanized steel drain lines.
Do it Yourself Drain Cleaners
There are a few recipes you can use to make less hazardous, do it yourself drain cleaners.
Baking soda and cider vinegar – this mixture of one cup of baking soda and one cup of white distilled vinegar will create a foaming solution that will clean small clogs in drain lines. Add the mixture to the clogged drain and let it work for a few minutes before flushing the line with hot water. You can use this mixture once a month for regular drain maintenance.
Vinegar, salt and borax – ½ cup of vinegar, ¼ cup of salt and ¼ cup of borax added to a drain and followed by plenty of hot water can remove clogs. This mixture takes a while to work so let it sit for at least one hour.
Baking soda and lemon juice – one cup of baking soda and one cup of lemon juice will create a foaming action, much like baking soda and vinegar. This mixture may cost more for the lemon juice, but it will clean your drains and remove any lingering odors.
Boiling water – many kitchen clogs develop due to grease in the drain. While you should try to avoid putting grease down the drain, if your kitchen sink does clog, try pouring boiling water down the drain. The boiling water will liquefy the grease clog and flush the grease out of the pipes.