What Can Be Done To Clear A Clogged Drain Or Sewer Line?

27 October 2015
 Categories: , Blog

If a single drain such as a faucet or toilet is clogged and backing up, you can perform some simple drain cleaning techniques to solve the problem. However, if all of your drains are draining slowly or clogged completely, you are looking at a sewer line issue. You will need to hire a professional to repair or clear your sewer line, because much of it is underground.

How to clear a single clogged drain

If the problem is a sink drain, you can try different options for drain cleaning.

Try a natural drain cleaner

A slow drain can often be cleared with a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda. Wait for the sink to drain completely, then pour a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar (or more expensive but less smelly lemon juice). Let the mixture foam inside the drain for several minutes, then flush it down with hot water. 

Check the sink trap

The sink trap captures potential clogging agents before they can get to the main drain pipe or outdoor sewer line. Sometimes they do their job too well, and a clog develops inside the trap.

You can remove the trap easily by removing the compression nut at the top of the trap and the threaded nut on the bottom end. The trap is directly below the sink drain, and is shaped like a the letter J.

When you remove the trap, hold it upright and put it in a bucket to clean it out, because it will likely be filled with dirty water and sludge. Clean it thoroughly with a garden hose or at another sink (block the drain so the clogging material doesn't clog a second sink), then reattach it with the two nuts.

Clearing a tub drain

Hair is a frequent culprit for clogging tub drains. Check the drain spokes for strands of hair stretched across them. These hairs may be holding a massive hairball that is suspended inside the drain pipe.

Cut the visible hairs with scissors, but hold them together and use them to pull the hairball through the drain spokes if possible. You will likely need to cut the hairball as you pull it, and it will be unpleasant to handle, so gloves are recommended.

You can use the natural drain cleaner on tub drains also, if a hairball is not the problem.

Toilet drain solutions

Drain cleaners can't be used in toilets, so a plunger should be your first choice. Pump type plungers, which resemble an air pump with a concave rubber tip, are preferable to the traditional stick plungers, because they maintain a tight seal more easily and take less physical exertion to use. However, you may need to pump for awhile to build enough pressure to push the clog through the drain.

Plungers can also be used in sink or tub drains, but never use them after putting caustic commercial drain cleaners into the drains. The drain cleaners can splash onto your skin or into your eyes, and cause severe burns.

If all your drains are blocked: sewer service options

You will need a professional drain cleaning company if the problem is a clog in your sewer line. They can send a power auger (cable) through your sewer line to remove the clogging agent. However, if the problem is more severe, such as a broken or misaligned sewer line you will need the line to be repaired or replaced. There are different options for sewer line repair or replacement.

Trench warfare

This is the traditional method that requires the use of a backhoe to dig a large trench to reach your sewer line. The trench will be refilled, but your yard will sustain collateral damage.

Pipe lining

If your sewer line is basically sound, but has some cracks or other damage, a sewer service contractor can pump material into the sewer line to create a new inner liner inside your existing sewer pipe. This synthetic material will help to prevent future issues, such a tree root encroachment and corrosion, both of which are major contributors to traditional metal sewer pipe failure.

Pipe bursting

This is a solution for replacing a fatally flawed sewer pipe without digging up your garden. A cable is pulled through the broken line, and a new sewer pipe is pulled through the tunnel created by your existing pipe, bursting and scattering the old pipe as it advances.

In the end, the severity of the blockage, as well as its cause and location, will dictate the remedy and whether you need a professional to deliver it. To find out more, speak with someone like DBR Plumbing.