How do you tell if your drain is clogged?

Person cleaning dishes in kitchen sink

When the drain works slowly

That really seems like a silly question doesn’t it?  “How do you tell if your drain is clogged?”.  Simple, the water isn’t going down the drain would be the indicator you have a clogged drain. One of the most aggravating things you can have happen! You’ve got dishes stacked up, company is coming, and both sides of the sink are full of water that isn’t going anywhere. 

A better question would be, “How did I get a clogged drain in the kitchen?”. That’s typically caused by what you’ve poured down the drain: 

  • Grease – It may have appeared to be liquid when you poured it in the drain, but it coagulates once it’s in the pipes and water hits it. Then, POOF, you have a clogged drain. 
  • Coffee grounds & Eggshells – These substances get heavy when they get wet, and if they’re poured on top of grease, that’s been poured down the drain, you will have one major clogged drain. 
  • Beans, Pasta, Potatoes, and Rice – These may good meals for your family, but the kitchen drain doesn’t like them. When water gets mixed with them, you end up with a paste-like material coating the pipe insides and then a clogged drain.   

When it comes to bathroom drains in the sink and tub, the normal culprits are grime, hair, and soap scum.  Then there is the toilet – what clogs a toilet? Well, there are a few things that cause that clogged drain and you will notice a common element between all these things we’ve listed: 

Low-Flow Toilet

They design toilets today as a low flow with the goal of saving water, a natural resource and a contributor to the monthly water bill. The earlier low flow toilets from the 1990s did not have the pressure necessary to clear the drain and internal trap, thus a clogged drain would happen. If your toilet is from the 1990s or before, that is probably why you’re having a frequent clogged drain. No need to rush out and buy a new one, but until you do, minimize what it flushes in the toilet.

Non-Flushable Items

Believe it or not, not everything that is paper material for the human body is meant to be flushed in the toilet. We’re talking about disposable diapers, feminine hygiene products, cotton balls, cotton swabs, dental floss, wet wipes, and even toilet paper is iffy.

Trap Is Blocked

The curved part of the toilet base on the back sides is the trap. It holds water from flushing down so that sewer gases can’t escape into your home. Guess what?  When you flush those non-flushable items, even toilet paper, it can become clogged in the trap and then you have a backed-up toilet because it now has a clogged drain. 

Blocked Plumbing Vent

Roof vents are required on houses today, especially for the modern toilets and other plumbing fixtures. They fresh air is funneled into the plumbing system to prevent a vacuum with air-pressure that slows a drain flowing. These vents can get blocked by animal nests, leaves, and small sticks, causing you to have a clogged drain. 

Problems with Main Sewer Line

If you are noticing regular clogged drains throughout your house, and you’ve checked the roof vent, then it could be something wrong at the main sewer line.  On your side of the line, it could be from those items we’ve mentioned that shouldn’t be flushed, or it could be tree roots have busted through a pipe. 

How do you dissolve hair in a drain? 

If the sink or tub isn’t draining, you probably have a clogged drain with hair and soap scum. If you’re wondering what product to buy that will break up that clog, try one of these “natural’ cleaners first: 

  • Baking Soda, Vinegar, and Water: Boil some water and pour it into the clogged drain. Mix one-fourth baking soda with one cup water and pour that into the clogged drain. Wait 15 minutes, then pour boiling water in the drain again. You should see a free running drain now.  If not, repeat the process or try one of these: 
  • Baking Soda, Salt, and Water: This time mix one cup of baking soda with 1/2 cup of salt and pour down the clogged drain. Allow to sit overnight as it fuzzes up and dissolve hairballs. The next morning, pour two cups of boiling water into the clogged drain. 
  • Household Bleach: You want to avoid chemicals, but sometimes a clogged drain needs some chemical muscles. A clogged drain bleach therapy won’t harm your pipes while it dissolves the hair balls.  Pour one cup of liquid bleach into the clogged drain and let it sit 30 minutes. If there is still clog there, pour another cup of bleach.  Wear gloves and goggles while doing this to protect your eyes and hands.
  • Hook It or Snake It: Tried and true, this old method still has one of the highest success rates in removing hair from clogged drains. Most people will use a wire clothes hanger or any item that is firm, thin and has a curved end.  You can also purchase a plumber’s snake at your local home improvement store.   

If none of these remedies work, you need to call a professional plumber. The clogged drain may be more than hair and soap scum. 

How do you unclog a deep clogged?   

Purchase an auger at your local home improvement store and follow these steps. This should get your deep clogged drain clean and get the water flowing again.

  1. Take the drain cap off.
  2. Push the auger down into the drain and turn the auger handle clockwise.
  3. Push the auger into the clogged drain firmly.
  4. Pull the auger back, the clog will break apart as you do.
  5. Push the auger into the drain again, repeating the process.
  6. Once you feel you have pulled out the blockage, completely pull the auger out. 

If this doesn’t get your clogged drain opened up again, call your local plumber. The problem could be deeper than you realize. 

Why is my drain still clogged? 

If water is draining in the sink and not the tub, or vice versa, it could be the clogged drain is past where the drains meet.  This may take the services of a professional plumber that can get use his camera to find the clog.  It could be the vent on the roof is blocked, which is something you could check yourself if you don’t have a problem climbing a ladder to look.  Otherwise, a plumber would be the one to call. 

drain working correctly

How do plumbers clear blocked drains? 

Plumbing professionals have equipment, tools, and skills to help them find where clogged drains are clogged. Some techniques they use to unblock a drain once they find it are: 

  • Tree roots: A clogged drain is often caused by tree roots bursting through the drainpipe and blocking it. A professional plumber will have the right equipment and skills to clear the tree roots, patch the pipe, and get your drain running again. 
  • Camera inspection: Plumbers today have added a video snake to their tools. This allows them to inspect a system on a wireless monitor to determine the nature of the clogged rain inside the pipes. From that, they can determine how they need to approach the problem.   
  • Cable clearing: Among the variety of tools that a professional plumber has, the basic hand snakes are still around and they also use a powerful drain machine to clear larger sewer pipes and eliminate clogs.
  • Hydro jetting: A newer method that not all plumbers are on board with and many will make it their last resort to clear a clogged drain and sewer. 

How do you flush a drain? 

Whether or not you’re having clogged drain issues, flushing the drain 2 or 3 times a year is always a good idea to keep it from happening.  Pour half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar into each drain, then run hot water in the drain for a few minutes.  This may foam up while it is clearing any debris, killing bacteria, and removing odors. 

Plumbing is a necessity that we have all grown used to having. When you need quality drain unclogging services in Bedford, TX, Winn Plumbing is here for you. Give us a call today at (817) 283-0183