Five Mistakes to Avoid with Drain Cleaning

Written by Chloe Harwood

Trying to get rid of a stubborn drain clog is usually something that a homeowner does on their own, though sometimes even a simple blocked drain can require a professional’s touch.

Even something as “easy” as clearing a drain can be done incorrectly, and there are a number of ways you can actually make things worse. Plumbing Detectives, a popular Sydney plumber, has seen them all. Here are some of the bigger mistakes that people make when trying to clear a blocked up drain.

Overdoing the Chemicals

One of the biggest mistakes that people make with clogged drains is reaching for the usual liquid drain cleaners. They are fine to use occasionally but you shouldn’t rely on these caustic chemicals too frequently. It’s also a common issue that you reach for a second dose if the first pour doesn’t do the job.

The ingredients in the usual drain cleaner are toxic, and will corrode your pipes when used too often. While it may be fine in the short-term, there will be more problems in the future from this.

Using the Wrong Plunger

Not all plungers are created equal, and you will get the best results if you use the one designed for your specific need. Namely, there is a difference between a sink plunger and a toilet plunger.

A typical sink plunger is shaped like half a rubber ball, whereas a toilet plunger has a collar or sleeve that protrudes from the bottom. A toilet bowl and a sink are generally shaped differently, and using the wrong plunger will prevent you from getting the right seal and pressure during use.

And speaking of plungers, you need the right technique as well as the right tool. Carefully place the plunger around the drain so that the edges of the rubber are flat against the bottom surface of the sink, and give it a sharp push to force air and water downwards. You don’t need a violent series of push/pull motions.

Trying to Use a Snake

A drain snake is a long extendable arm or chain that unwinds down the drain, to physically move or break up a clog. When used properly, they are an excellent and effective way to clear a drain. When used improperly, they won’t fix anything and will very likely do damage to the pipes, your sink or the toilet bowl. Check out some tutorials before you use one, or better yet, find someone (like a professional) to give you a quick lesson on using a drain snake.

Using Things that Aren’t Tools

The plunger is probably your best bet for a drain, or using a snake if you have some experience. One thing you really shouldn’t do is jam non-tool items down the drain in desperation. Broom handles, spatulas, coat hangers or other long implements do not belong down the drain. Like with the snake, you run the risk of doing damage to the drain or lower pipes this way.

Letting it Clog in the First Place

The biggest mistake is actually not being more careful about what is going down the drain to begin with. Don’t rinse dirty plates right down the drain, or allow hair and other debris to just get washed away. Use a filter basket or other drain protector in your sinks (both kitchen and bathrooms), and make sure everyone in the home knows not to jam too much paper down the toilet either. Prevention is the best approach to clogged drains.

About the author

Chloe Harwood