Included in this article: 

  • Pity the P-Trap
  • Bathtub Bailout
  • Taming the Toilet

Modern marketing is more than happy to hound you about any new product or service that will easily and painlessly solve any problem you have. Even your clogged drains are no exception.  There are numerous products on the market which will promise you instantly free-draining pipes. Unfortunately, most of these products are made of harsh chemicals which can damage the very pipes you want to protect.  In most cases there’s a better, faster and easier way to become clog free and I’m here to show it to you. (Read on…)

The P-Trap

Take a look under your sink and notice how the drainpipe comes straight down, makes a U-shape and then disappears into the wall. That U-shape is called the P-trap and its design is an important part of its function. The U-shape prevents smelly and potentially dangerous sewer gasses from floating up into your home. Instead they are stopped by the curved design of pipe. That’s the good news.

However, frequently things that are good for you can also be a problem. That U-shape definitely contributes to a build-up of hair and falling bits like bobby pins, diamond earrings and other gunk that can interfere with smooth water drainage. Clearing your P-trap is easy, if you have the proper tools. Check out my article on The Must-Have Plumbing Toolkit [link to article] for a complete list.

To just clear a clogged drain at the P-trap all you’ll need is a bucket, an adjustable wrench, a plumber’s snake and/or drain clearing bladders. You might want to pull out a couple of towels, too. Plumbing work is generally messy business.

Position the bucket under the curved pipe and apply the adjustable wrench to the connectors above and below the P-trap. Carefully loosen these nuts until you can remove the P-trap all together. Remove anything and everything that seems to be gumming up the works. At my house I often find that my children have decided to store small toys in our P-trap.
It’s possible that your clog may continue past the P-trap. In that case I recommend that you deploy one of the drain clearing bladders into the pipe and follow the instructions on the packaging. Drain clearing bladders connect to a garden hose and concentrate a high pressure stream of water into your pipe, pushing the gunk out as it goes. They can be quite effective.

Bathtub Bailout

If only fixing the banking industry could be this easy… you’ll need a bucket, plumber’s snake (also known as a drain auger) a couple of towels and some patience. Drain problems in a bathtub result in slow or standing water that refuses to drain. This is most likely caused by hair or other gunk, standing in the way of water taking its natural course.
Insert the end of the plumber’s snake into the drain and use the crank to send it further and further into your pipes. As you turn the crank, the tip of the snake rotates inside the pipe, scraping away hair and gunk that’s interfering with water drainage. As you push snake further into the pipes it pushes the clog to a point where it can drain properly.

Taming the Toilet

When it won’t go down you’re in danger of having it flow all over your floor. And we know you don’t want that. A plunger – also known as a plumber’s helper – is a must have item to have on hand for clearing this particular kind of clog. A plunger is basically a rubber suction cup on a stick. They are inexpensive and easy to find in any hardware store.

When you see water rising above the normal level of your toilet it’s time to bust out with the plunger. Most of the time, the problem is just a little too much paper slowing things down.  Using the plunger will create a vacuum which should instantly improve the flow.
Whether it’s the sink, toilet or tub, I say never be afraid to tackle a clog on your own. You could be surprised at how easily one can be resolved. However, if you still have sluggish or clogged drains after trying these quick fixes, you might want to refer to my article: How to Tell When You Need a Professional.

Check out some of our other articles on resolving plumbing issues, such as: The Must-have Plumbing Toolkit, Fix a Running Toilet and Improve Your Showerhead Water Pressure.


Drain Bladders by Cobra: drain cleaning bladders