Comprehensive Guide – Ways To Unclog A Drain
There is more than one way to skin a cat, and there is more than one way to unclog a drain. If you are looking for tips on ways to skin a cat, you’ll need to find another blog – we are animal lovers and do not promote cruelty to animals. But if you are looking for tips on ways to unclog a drain, you’ve come to the right place.
For the purposes of this discussion, a drain can be defined as any pipe or conduit that facilitates or enables the flow of water from one place to another. Drains include toilets, bathroom and kitchen sinks, showers, bathtubs, and sewer lines.
A blockage in any one of these will make your life difficult, will disrupt your home or business, can soon become a health hazard, and can cause damage to property. Any plumbing clog must be effectively removed so that water can flow again in the way it was designed to.
The first thing most people reach for when they need to unclog a drain is a chemical solution, such as Drano and other commercially available chemical solutions. If your clog is a simple one – like hair in your bathroom sink – these chemicals sometimes work. But in general, these chemicals are not powerful enough to eat through solid obstacles, and you will need a tool of some kind to get the obstruction removed and get the water flowing again.
Chemicals solutions do have their use though: our plumbers often pour powerful chemicals into a drain after they have removed the obstacle and cleared the drain with either a cabling device (“Snake”) or a hydro jet machine.
These chemicals help clean the inside of the pipes and help keep water flowing after the obstruction has been removed. But they are not that effective when you need to remove a stubborn obstacle.
The principal device for removing a simple obstruction from a clogged toilet or a clogged shower drain or sink is the good old plunger. It never hurts to have a plunger handy and take a shot at unclogging drains before you call your local plumbing service.
There are two types of plungers: the simplest is the dome type for use on sinks and tubs (shown in the picture above); then there is one with an additional flap: this type is better for use on toilets. A third type, the accordion plunger, costs more but is the most effective.
A fourth type, which is used by professional plumbers for clearing obstructions in large pipes, is called a taze plunger. The taze plunger has a disk which fits into a specific pipe size, and has a long steel rod to force the disk into the pipe. These types of plungers are expensive to buy, and require expert knowledge in their use: they are not recommended for use by the novice.
Cabling Device – Hand Driven or Electric-Powered
When the plunger doesn’t do the trick, we move up to the cabling device. These devices drill through the obstruction and remove it. A cabling device can also be called an auguring tool, a rooting device or a “plumber’s snake”. The simplest cabling devices are hand-driven and are relatively inexpensive to purchase. Electric-powered devices cost a lot more to purchase but are a lot more effective.
But even the most sophisticated cabling tool has two major limitations: they often simply drill a hole through the debris causing the obstruction without actually removing the entire obstruction. This will allow a small amount of water or waste to pass through, but the hole will close again pretty soon and you will need to cable it again to keep it open.
The second major limitation of cabling devices is their limited reach: even the most powerful electric-powered cabling devices are only effective up to a distance of 100 feet. If your clog is in a main sewer line and is more than 100 feet away, a cabling device will not cut it (excuse the pun). In such instances, you will need the Godzilla of drain-cleaning equipment – the Hydro jet machine.
The ultimate tool for clearing the most stubborn obstructions from a water line, a sewer line or a grease trap is the Hydro Jet machine. These devices generate a powerful water jet – with a pressure of up to 5,000 lbs per square inch – to literally blast away the material causing the obstruction.
Sometimes the obstruction is caused by a buildup of paper, hair, grease, or other materials in the pipe. And sometimes the stoppage is caused by tree roots which intrude into the pipe and continue to grow inside the pipes, eventually preventing the flow of water or waste.
Before using the hydro jet machine, a plumbing technician always cameras the line first. This involves inserting a video camera at the end of a stiff cable into the line. This shows the technician exactly what the obstruction looks like and also how far into the line it is located.
Then we blast away the obstruction with the hydro jet’s powerful jet stream of water. When we believe we have successfully removed the obstruction, we again camera the line. This will tell us for sure that the obstacle has been removed and will also show us if there has been any damage done to the pipes – especially by intrusive tree roots – and whether that portion of the pipe needs to be replaced or relined. Sometimes it will take more than one pass with the hydro jet machine to successfully clear the line and totally remove the obstruction.
Hydro jetting may cost more than other drain-cleaning solutions, but it is also the most cost-effective because it provides a solution that will last longer than any other type of drain-cleaning method.
The hydro jet not only unblocks the drain, it also washes away the accumulated debris and it even scours the insides of the pipe, often restoring the flow of water or waste to its original capacity.
Mr. Speedy Plumbing & Rooter Inc. has several of the latest-model hydro jet machines from US Jetting Inc., and our technicians are all trained in their use. These sophisticated machines should never be used by an amateur: a hydro jet can generate a very powerful jet of water – if you put your hand in front of it, it will blow off your fingers.
When you need to unclog a drain – any drain – call Mr. Speedy Plumbing & Rooter Inc. and have your speedy plumber take care of your issue in a fast, professional and reasonably-priced manner.