Dealing with a clogged drain is a nuisance that most homeowners will have to face eventually, but before you call a plumber it’s worth saving yourself a few bucks by trying to unclog the drain yourself. If water is still going down the drain, albeit slowly, that’s a good sign that you may be able to fix it yourself with one of these DIY techniques. Once a pipe is completely blocked, it’s a lot more difficult to unclog it on your own.

First, that old school tool known as a plunger may do the trick. You’ll first want to block any overflow outlets or any other drains connected to the same line (such as double drains in a kitchen sink) with wet rags. Coat the bottom end of the plunger cup with petroleum jelly and slide it over the blocked drain. Quickly push the plunger up and down at least ten times to build up the pressure, then quickly pull the plunger cup off the drain to loosen the clog.

If that doesn’t work, you can try an auger, also known as a snake. These require a little more elbow grease, especially when they hit a bend in a pipe. They usually use a handle that is turned clockwise to help push the wire into the drain and a thumbscrew to lock the wire in place. Turning the handle counterclockwise will bring the wire back up. Once you think you’ve worked the wire to break up a clog, flush the drain with very hot water and liquid detergent.

There are also several chemical drain cleaners available at home repair stores that are much stronger than general brands. These cleaners are very caustic and can be dangerous, so for this method you’ll need to wear rubber gloves (and it may be a good idea to also wear protective eyewear) while following the directions carefully.

If none of these methods work, and/or water isn’t going down the drain at all, then it’s time to call in an expert to unclog the pipe for you. If you know for certain that a physical object was dropped down the drain and is causing the problem, a plumber may also be the way to go.

Expert tips provided by: JBL Drain Specialist

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