Perhaps the most common plumbing task that people tackle frequently is the opening of a clogged drain. Although professional plumbers tackle the job in the best of ways, there are a good number of people who try to do the job themselves.

The difference in the outcome can be counted in the areas of quality and professionalism-or simply doing it oneself, which may be more affordable. Even if you don’t intend to do it yourself, it doesn’t hurt to know the basics; you never know when they may come in handy.

Use these “unclogging tactics” for all kinds of clog jobs

For this article, we will focus more on clogged sinks… although the tactics are more or less common for other types of clogged jobs too.

Sometimes, the sink isn’t fully clogged but is just sluggish, with water running down at a snail’s pace inside the drain. If that’s the issue, try running hot water through the pipes for a couple minutes. If it’s soap scum or oil or grease, this may do the job for you. If this approach does not turn out to be sufficient, you should use a good drain cleaner rather than simply using hot water. NB: hot water and drain cleaners generally don’t do a great job.

The easiest way is to use the plunger!

The best and easiest approach is to get into your ‘plumbing dress’ and pick up the plunger!

Fill up the sink a little bit with water… and place the plunger on the strainer. Now start pushing in and out quickly with force – and keep plunging for some time without stopping.

Pressure will build up inside the pipes and may move whatever is blocking the flow of water. Small blockages rarely hold back against plunger pressure, especially if it’s continual and exerted with greater force. For better results, use a rubber plunger rather than a plastic one.

If the plunger fails, work on the drain trap

If plungers don’t do the job for you, then you need to work on the drain trap. Take a bucket and put it just beneath the trap… and then open it. You may find hair or other stuff there that may be clogging the drain. Clean up the trap as much as you can… and see if that solves your problem. You can also run water for a few minutes to see if everything is flowing smoothly again.

If the line is still blocked, even after cleaning the trap, then the problem is inside the wall-drain.

Take a cable auger and insert the cable into the stub-out till it reaches the clog. Push the cable harder so that it passes through the clog. Now, pull it back… and most of the clog will come out with the cable.

Fix the trap back and run water through the sink to check if the flow is ok. Though the cable auger will clear the bulk of the clog, some small hair or clogs may still be there – attached to the walls of the drain pipe. So, if you still experience slow water flow, use the plunger to clear any left-over debris inside the pipes.

Scott Rodgers is a plumber who has recently begun writing articles for both a plumbing and non-plumbing audience. To view more of plumbing articles, visit

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