Everyone in the Tampa Bay Area has experienced it: You turn on the water in your sink, shower, or tub and the water drains very slowly and then begins to back up. After seeing countless commercials for “magical” liquid drain cleaners, the first thought is to get that bottle of thick blue liquid because it’ll get the job done quickly, right?
THE BAD NEWS ABOUT LIQUID DRAIN CLEANERS
The bad news that companies who make drain cleaners won’t tell you is that these chemicals are harmful to your plumbing. Even when the bottle claims to be “safe on pipes”, they are truly not. Just look at the warning on the back of the bottle to call your local poison control center if the chemicals touch your skin.
If you insist on trying a liquid-based solution to clear up minor clogs, choose an all-natural enzymatic product. These products use natural enzymes to break up organic material and bacteria clogging your pipes, but they won’t break down particularly tough clogs. These products are better used for monthly drain maintenance rather than clearing up clogs, but we have some simpler (and less expensive) DIY solutions that you can try before buying a pricey product.
If your drains are a little slow or you want to clean out your drains each month to ensure gunk doesn’t build up along pipe walls, there are two easy, inexpensive plumbing solutions that could work:
- Hot water. Pour a large pot of very hot (but not boiling) water down the drain you’re having issues with or want to clean. Follow it up with some cool water to flush out the clogs you just melted away.
- Baking soda and vinegar. Pour half a cup of baking soda down your drain and chase it with half a cup of vinegar. Plug the sink and let it sit overnight. Flush the drains with hot water in the morning and they’ll work (and smell) like they’re brand-new! We recommend doing this once per month.
If you end up with a clogged drain and want to try to clear it yourself before calling in the plumbing experts at Cass Plumbing of Tampa Bay, put down the bottle of drain cleaner and instead keep an auger or a drain snake as well as a cup plunger on hand.
- Snake or auger: A plumber’s snake or auger is a physical tool used to break up clogs in pipes. There are different types, but the general idea is that you feed the snake’s thick wire or cable through the drain pipe and turn a handle that keeps the snake spinning inside the pipe. Once the auger hooks onto the clog, you can pull it out and discard the mess. WARNING: If you don’t know what you are doing, do NOT run a plumbing auger through your plumbing system. You can end up doing a lot more harm than good.
- Cup plunger. Cup plungers work best on small clogs. Before trying to plunge a sink drain, pull out the stopper in your sink and make sure it’s not the cause of the clog. If cleaning this doesn’t restore flow, block the overflow opening to seal the drain and create the proper suction needed to plunge. Place the plunger fully over the drain and run a small amount of water in the sink, then begin plunging up and down. You’ll likely be able to feel when the clog loosens as the plunger will become easier to plunge.
When you get into the more serious clogs, we recommend that you give us a call at (813) 265-9200. This is what we do every day for a living. We are professionals with decades of experience behind us. Again, if you don’t know what you are doing and are trying to run a snake or an auger through your plumbing system you can do much more harm than good. It could ultimately lead to costing you thousands of dollars in plumbing repairs.
AVOID CLOGS: WHAT NOT TO PUT DOWN THE DRAIN
Of course, the best way to avoid a clogged drain is to use it properly in the first place. Below, is a list of the most common things Tampa Bay homeowners put down the drain (or toilet) that can cause major plumbing problems over time:
- Grease, fats, or oil (pour them into a jar, wait for them to solidify, then throw them away)
- Pasta, rice, and potatoes (anything starchy)
- Stringy or fibrous foods
- Coffee grounds
- Feminine hygiene products (sanitary napkins)
- Tissues and paper towels
- “Flushable” wipes
- Hair (install a stopper for your shower or tub!)
Always call Cass Plumbing of Tampa Bay at (813) 265-9200 when you have a drain cleaning problem in the Greater Tampa Bay area. We are a reliable, experienced Tampa Bay plumbing company that has been serving the region for 2 decades, are A+ Rated by the Better Business Bureau and have thousands of 5 star reviews from our customers throughout the Tampa Bay region.