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Drain Cleaning Do’s and Don’ts

Homeowners usually try to fix their plumbing issues themselves before calling in a professional plumber. However, some DIY fixes can actually do more damage than good. Before you try to work on your drain, know what’s a good idea and what isn’t.

Smells

If you smell something foul coming from your drain, using a deodorizer to clean the drain yourself can help remove the bad odor. Some deodorizers are simple to make using common ingredients from around your house. Unless the smell is accompanied by water going down slowly, a gurgling sound, or a leak, a pro isn’t required. However, if the smell is coming from under the sink due to a leak, you should call in a licensed plumber immediately to stop the leak and prevent further water damage. Similarly, if the odor is due to a backup of food, soap residue, hair, or other solids, a professional grade drain cleaning may be required.

Clogs

Any number of things can cause a drain clog. Older pipes typically suffer from sediment and scale build up that cause clogs in downflow areas and locations where the pipe bends. Normal items that go down the drain can also cause blockages as well. Consumer products like soap cause residue to build up, resulting in drain blockages when other substances like hair, toothpaste, and food remnants try to go down.

Using liquid drain cleaners is always a bad idea. They aren’t as effective as the techniques that a professional plumber would use, and they can be dangerous to homeowners and pipes alike. When drain cleaner fails to break up the clog it sits on top and can splash out, causing skin and eye damage to homeowners and their children and pets. When the cleaners do work, they can break the clog into pieces, driving them down further into the pipe. Also, the heavy chemicals inside can corrode pipes, thinning them out and making the pipes more likely to crack and leak. When pipes fail unexpectedly, any savings that would have resulted from working on the problem yourself go out the window once an emergency plumber needs to be called out. 

Instead, have a licensed plumber do the drain cleaning to ensure that your pipes aren’t damaged in the process. They can perform roto rooting, sewer rodding, hydro jetting, and other more advanced drain cleaning techniques to ensure that your pipes are in excellent working order.

Sounds

Gurgling water and other unusual sounds can indicate a larger issue. Have a licensed plumber examine your drain to determine if there’s a serious plumbing issue that needs to be fixed (like a clog or leak) or if your plumbing is functioning incorrectly. Pipe size, placement, and fittings can all contribute to ongoing plumbing issues like odd sounds, water backing up, and frequent blockages, necessitating a more substantial fix than a routine drain cleaning.

Additional resources:
Hydro jetting explained
Pipe rodding information