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Plumbing - Clogged Pipes and Drains - A quick cheap DIY fix

Updated on October 7, 2011

Hair Clogs in the tub are the most common clogs

You can Do it Yourself

We have all been frustrated by a clogged drain or pipe. Plumbers may be good at their job, but they are also quite expensive. And if you try calling one out on a weekend, after hours, or anywhere near a holiday...forget it, your fees just doubled at minimum. But not all clogs need a plumber and you can fix them up in minutes all by yourself.

If you have women in your house and they have long hair, then the biggest clogs you probably deal with are the hair clogs in the shower drain. we lose about 50 - 100 hairs per day and many of those are lost while bathing or brushing our hair. (And no, stopping these two tasks won't cause your hair not to fall out. it is a natural process of our bodies)

If the ladies in your home have long hair, then when they lose their hair, there is a lot more hair being lost and going down the drain. This can quickly clog up drains and pipes and make for a frustrating day. Some ways to know if your shower drain is clogging up with hair is if your water begins to drain out of the tub or shower slower. The clog is preventing the water from flowing quickly and slows it down. You will find yourself standing in an inch or two of water as you shower because the water is backing up. This can also happen in your sink if you shave over your sink and wash the hairs down the drain. It takes much longer for a sink clog to occur with simple shaving than it does for a shower.

Calling out the plumber can cost as little as $50 for the clog problem or could be a few hundred. But you can unclog it for little cost or even for free yourself.

Plumbers Snake

Plumbers will use a combination of some type of professional strength drain cleaner like Drano, and a snake to unclog your drains and pipes. No not the kind you run screaming from, but a long flexible metal rod that is twisted up like a spring. The snake is pushed down the drain while turning it to get any items in the drain to wrap around the snake. The plumber then pulls the snake out and the stuck items come out with it. He may do this several times to get it all or at least the bulk of it. You can do this too!

Most stores sell plumbing snakes for as little as $10 for a simple one. You can also take a wire hanger from your closet and using pliers twist it up at the bottom to make your own make shift snake. Drano now makes a combo pack that gives you the snake and the drain cleaner in one box.

The snake grabs the gunk

4 prong drain cover can be removed with a screw driver

Almost all bathtubs have drain covers (those little metal plates over the drain) that can be removed. You can usually use your fingers to grip it and pull it out or you can use something thin like a flat-head screw driver to pop it up. If you have one that has super tiny holes in it then you can use a pair of tweezers to get the tip of the tweezers in one of the holes and pull it up. Any removable drain cover will come up fairly easy. They are meant to be removed so if you try a few good tugs and yours is not budging then you may have a non-removable drain cover and will have to call the plumber. This is extremely uncommon especially in homes.

Once you have the cover off, use either the snake you bought from the store or your home made version and slowly push it down the drain. Give it some wiggles as you do this to help it wiggle through the clog and grab it. Once you get to the bottom of the snake or as far as you can push it down, slowly pull it back up, giving it a slow twist as you pull it up to help keep hold of whatever gunk it has grabbed. Remove the gunk once you pull it out and repeat.

When nothing else comes up with the snake then you have probably gotten everything out and your drain is unclogged. Replace the drain cover and you are done!

If you are still getting a little bit each time then you have probably gotten the bulk of it out and there isn't enough left for the snake to completely grab. If this is the case then at this point, put the cover back on the drain and grab your Drano. They all work well but if you have already gotten most of the clog out then there isn't much for the Drano to sit on down there to dissolve.

Gel sticks to the pipes and gunk better

For this I would recommend the Drano Gel. It sticks very well to the sides of the pipes and they make it safe enough to use with septic tanks. (Always double check the labeling first if you have a septic tank. They make different kinds of gels.)

Pour the Drano Gel down the drain as directed by the instructions. Rinse it out as instructed on the bottle and you should see your clog problem gone.

If you get these hair clogs often there are a few things you can do to keep them at bay.

1. Buy a drain cover with super tiny holes that catch the hair before it has a chance to get down the drain.

2. Clean your drain cover every day.

3. Use a drain cleaner that is safe for frequent use, use it once a week or every two weeks to help prevent buildup. (If you have an aseptic tank check the bottle label and your tank instructions. Some septic tanks only suggest drain cleaners no more than once a month)

If you try all this and still have a problem then it may be that your drain or pipe has been clogging for some time and the problem is too big to fix by yourself. If this is the case then go ahead and call your plumber.

But to save money, call them on a weekday and nowhere near a Holiday if possible. Make the appointment for during their work hours so you wont have to pay more for their after hours service. Of course if the after hours fee is only an extra $25 and it would cost you $100 to take off work early, then it is more cost efficient to pay the extra $25.


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      Marcelina Bangal 3 years ago

      Thank you! I didi it myself. I was able to removed the hairs by using a wire. I save $172. I called Pro Rooter and it costs me $172 for their service which is their cheapest.