How to Unclog a Drain Without Chemicals—and When to Call in a Plumbing Pro
A friend of mine recently read a bunch of articles about nutrition and now he only eats food that’s organic, gluten-free, and grass-fed. I know, I know, it’s way healthier for you; one of these days I’m going to get on board with all of that too. I think we can all agree that avoiding things like chemicals, pesticides, and additives in your food is a smart choice.
My friend’s super healthy habits, of course, got me thinking—about plumbing. Did you know there’s an organic equivalent to plumbing? This might surprise you, but there kind of is! It’s figuring out how to unclog your drain without chemicals.
Just like eating au natural, there are a lot of advantages to approaching plumbing this way, including not having to breathe in fumes or use chemicals that are so strong they’ll damage your pipes and potentially your lungs. So, let’s have a look at some ideas for how to unclog your drain without chemicals so that you can keep your home, your pipes, and your family healthy.
Ideas for How to Unclog a Drain Without Chemicals
Conventional drain cleaner can be nasty stuff. Not only has it got a powerful chemical smell, it typically contains high amounts of bleach and sodium hydroxide, a particularly corrosive salt substance. This is the stuff that makes your eyes sting, your lungs seize up, and your skin burn if you inhale it or come into direct contact with it. Of course, sodium hydroxide also has the ability to damage your pipes if you use it too often or if it gets stuck somewhere in your plumbing and settles. Needless to say, it’s a good idea to avoid chemical drain cleaners as much as possible, especially if you have a feeling your plumbing is already bad or beginning to fail.
So, what are the alternatives? There are some really effective natural methods for clearing a clogged drain that won’t have you coughing, sputtering, and itching. And these methods won’t do any damage to your pipes either and aren’t harmful to the environment.
Idea #1: Baking Soda and Vinegar to Unclog Drains Naturally
This is my go-to method for clearing a sluggish drain at home, not only because it’s quick and easy, but also because the ingredients you need can be found in your kitchen pantry. It also kind of reminds me of those fun volcano science experiments we used to do as kids.
What you’ll need:
- ½ cup baking soda
- ½ cup white vinegar (any kind will work but don’t waste your fancy ones on this)
- A drain stopper
- 4-5 cups of boiling water
Directions for unclogging your drain:
- Pour the baking soda down the clogged drain.
- Add the vinegar and immediately cover the drain with the drain stopper to give the baking soda and vinegar a chance to foam up and settle.
- Let the vinegar and baking soda hang out in the drain for 30 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, boil a pot of water
- After 30 minutes, pour your boiling water down the drain.
Idea #2: Plunge Your Drain—No Chemicals Needed
Most people know about plunging their sink when it clogs, but few people know how to do it correctly. It takes a little more effort than plunging a toilet but it can be really effective.
What you’ll need:
- A toilet plunger
- A wet rag
- Petroleum jelly
Directions for plunging your clogged drain:
- Unscrew the pop-up drain in your sink if it has one.
- Stuff the wet rag into the overflow drain to seal it up.
- Turn on the faucet and run some water.
- Apply a little bit of petroleum jelly around the lip of the plunger to improve the seal.
- Place the plunger over the drain and plunge.
- Repeat until the gunk comes up and the sink starts to drain.
Idea #3: Clean the Clogged Pipe
This is a method that is best performed by people with a little bit of plumbing knowledge or experience. It is relatively easy to do in most cases, but I should warn you that it can get messy and nasty pretty quickly, so brace yourself. I’d definitely recommend trying the other ideas above before you give this one a shot. And if you don’t feel up to doing it yourself, call a plumbing pro and they’ll happily do it for you.
What you’ll need:
- A plumber’s wrench
- A bucket
- An old toothbrush
Directions for cleaning out a clogged drain:
- Put the bucket underneath the p-trap (the U-shaped pipe beneath your sink).
- Loosen the slip nuts at both ends of the p-trap using your trusty plumber’s wrench.
- Slowly remove the p-trap and turn it upside down into the bucket to empty its contents.
- Use the old toothbrush or a drain snake to help get out any stubborn debris.
- Give the p-trap a good rinse in the bathtub, making sure it is clear, and install it back under the sink. Make sure those nuts are tight!
When to Call a Plumbing Pro
I recommend trying the first two methods right when you start to notice that your drain is more sluggish than usual. If you can catch a clog before there is a complete blockage, you’re far more likely to be able to clear it, especially with these more natural methods.
If these methods don’t do the trick, though, or if dealing with your own plumbing isn’t your cup of tea, call a plumbing pro like the friendly folks at Bell Brothers to come and have a look at your drain. The pros have all the gadgets and gizmos needed to release even the most stubborn clogs, like sewer line clogs, and will know what method to use in order to have your drains working like a dream in no time. In fact, that’s probably the best way to unclog a drain without chemicals because it always works and it won’t do damage to your pipes—which is more than can be said about a bottle of drain cleaner.
At Bell Brothers, our trained plumbing professionals would love to come and clear your clogged drain with our chemical-free methods. Plus, if you’re wondering how to finance energy efficient upgrades to your home, we can help you find unique financing options. Contact us today to schedule a free in-home consultation.
Image courtesy AndreyPopov