It's one of the most common yet universally-despised guests a business or homeowner can encounter: the dreaded slow-moving or completely clogged drain. Discovery is typically followed by a brief period of denial. If I give it an hour or two, that standing water will disappear on its own. Or, I'll use less water so the drain can catch up. But sooner or later reality sets in. That clog will require attention. Here are a few ways to fight it… and a few reasons why leaving this particular dirty job to a licensed professional is often a good idea.
Plunge Right In
The very first line of defense against a drain clog is the venerable plunger. This simple tool makes use of suction and the push-pull of a small pocket of compressed air to loosen clogs and allow the water to flow. A plunger is both easy to use and inexpensive, but rarely works effectively or completely. Try it before considering other options but do not expect miraculous results.
Pour It and Forget It
The next weapon in the plumbing war is typically an over-the-counter "clog busting" cleaner. Available in liquid, foam, or gel varieties, there are several well-known brands on the market, each promising cheap and easy relief. Indeed, it's quite tempting to give a shot to a product that costs less than ten bucks and works by itself. Yet while these cleaners can sometimes dissolve light clogs (given time and the right set of circumstances), rarely do they work as well as advertised. There's also a downside to their usage. Chemical cleaners release toxic fumes and are easily absorbed through the skin. If they do not work – which can often be the case – they become trapped behind the clog, where they continue to emit fumes and make blockage removal more dangerous.
Send in the Snake
A "snake" is a length of cable that is fed down the drain until it reaches the restriction. This rotating tool, which comes in engine-powered or hand-cranked versions, is tipped with a spiral wire that digs into, snags, and removes hair and food clogs. Hardware and home improvement stores carry light-duty versions that the do-it-yourselfer can try if willing to get down and dirty. However, a light touch can be critical; force-feeding or overeager cranking can damage PCV pipes. Professional grade (and professionally operated) power snakes are often required to remove large diameter or particularly stubborn clogs.
Plumbers and drain-cleaning services have other tricks up their bag, including camera probes to locate and diagnose clogs, hydro jets to power-flush blockages with up to 3,200 psi of pressure, and when all else fails, the ability to cut out and replace pipes. The pros have equipment that can handle any job, the experience to properly use industrial tools, and perhaps most importantly, insurance to cover any potential damage. All of which makes a call to a licensed professional like Jim Dhamer Plumbing & Sewer, Inc. the smartest remedy to a clogged drain.