We’ve all been there before. You flush the toilet, but instead of its unholy contents going down, it gurgles around in the bowl before rising to the top threateningly. If you don’t know what to do next, chances are, you’ll soon have foul smelling water everywhere. Or maybe you were washing the dishes in the kitchen and the water started heading north in the sink, even though there’s no sink stopper in place. In either event, a clogged drain would have been the culprit and depending on its severity, could result in much panic.
What is a clogged drain?
A clogged drain occurs when the drain pipes, which are wastewater or sewer pipes, get blocked up, permitting little or no free flow of outgoing liquid. A drain can become blocked up in a number of ways. These include debris, grease, oil, dirt, rust and even foreign objects. The general idea is that wastewater becomes backed up, flowing back instead of forward. When this happens, a suitable drain cleaning option is needed to free up the lines, so to speak, and allow water to pass freely again. Popular drain cleaning options include chemical drain cleaners, plungers, plumbing snakes and other equipment. Many people also indulge in homemade drain cleaners, such as baking soda and vinegar.
Problems caused by clogged drains
In addition to the obvious inconvenience caused by overflowing water that may be undesirable in smell, clogged drains can result in a number of issues, including being dangerous to public health. Raw sewage flowing down a street or backing up in a home can be rather dangerous. This is because sewage water carries different types of bacteria that can cause disease if they come in contact with humans. Additionally, water collecting in puddles as a result of a clogged drain, may cause mosquitoes to breed and multiply. Mosquitoes carry a host of diseases that have proven to be a stake in the side of many people who have been afflicted. As a result, all efforts should be made to prevent the insect from breeding and also to fix clogged drains as soon as possible.
Cleaning a clogged drain
As mentioned before, there are several options available when cleaning a drain that is blocked up. However, if you discover that you do have a clogged drain, the first thing you need to do is turn off the water (turn off the lock-off valve in the case of a toilet). Once that is done, you may proceed to try unclogging the drain with whatever method you prefer.
The type you choose depends on the severity of the blockage, with plungers and liquid drain cleaners being the most popular. Since liquid drain cleaners are often acidic, you should use care when throwing them down the sink or hole in order to prevent them splashing onto the skin. Regardless of how powerful they are, chemical drain openers may still not be strong enough to pull a clogged drain. In such cases, a plumbing snake, which is long and narrow, can be used to ‘rod’ out the pipe line, freeing trapped debris etc.
If all this fails and you still have a clogged line or even if it’s partially blocked, it’s time to call a professional. A licensed plumber will be able to not only diagnose the problem but will also possess tools and tricks to unclog the most stubborn drain blockages.
Knowing how to deal with clogged drains is important for all homeowners in order to keep the environment free from diseases. You should also always have the contact details of a reliable plumber on hand just in case your methods don’t work