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How Do I Unclog a Drain Pipe?

TechXpert verified by Rob Ilie

Depending on whether a branch drain or a main drain line is clogged, you can either unclog your drains yourself or you’ll need a technician’s assistance. If an individual drain is clogged, like your kitchen sink, bathroom sink, tub, or shower, you can use one or more tool-based and mixture-based solutions. But if multiple drains in your home seem to be clogged, it’s a bigger issue that calls for a plumbing specialist.

Causes of a Clogged Drain Pipe

Your first step is to figure out which pipe is clogged, and why. Clogs can come from a lot of things, including:

  • Food particles

  • Grease or oils

  • Hair

  • Soap scum

  • Dirt

  • Mineral buildup

  • Small items

If you’ve got a clog in one pipe, you can try one of several unclogging solutions to loosen the obstruction. Are multiple drains clogged at the same time? You might be dealing with a clogged drain pipe or main water line. These kinds of clogs come from:

Dirt, Dust, and Debris Buildup

Over time, the dirt, dust, and debris that flows through your plumbing can build up and create a clog in your main drain pipe. This could back up your whole system.

Critters Clogging Your Pipes

Believe it or not, sometimes an animal can get into your pipes. Small rodents and other critters can make their way into your main water line, blocking it off.

Rusty, Corroded, or Damaged Pipes

Over time, your drain line pipes can take quite a bit of wear and tear from everything that flows through them, causing corrosion and damage. The result? Interrupted water flow.

Tree Roots

Other (not so) hidden culprits of a blocked drain line can be the roots from the trees in your yard — these can eventually grow into your main sewer line underground.

Roots slowly make their way into the sewer line, growing inside with their newfound water source. Eventually, the growth and waste that can accumulate around the roots can form a blockage.

Unclogging a Blocked Drain Pipe

A main sewer line clog is a pretty slippery situation. If you’re experiencing clogged drain issues at a number of sites, stop using all the fixtures in your home before your sewer backs up out of one of them — usually the lowest one.

When To Hand it Off To the Pro

A clogged main sewer line is a larger problem than you might imagine, and it’s time to call in the big guns to fix it. Contact your local plumber to have a specialist diagnose the issue. They’ll determine the location of the blockage, and choose the best method to clear the clog for you.

How to Avoid Drain Line Clogs

Main drain line clogs can sometimes be out of your control, but there are some ways to avoid a recurrence:

  • Only flush toilet paper! “Flushable” wipes, feminine products, dental floss, and other bathroom accessories are not meant to go down the toilet.

  • Don’t put anything down your drains that doesn’t belong there, including food scraps, grease, soap scum, or excess dirt.
    Make it a point to clean your drains as you would the rest of your house. A bit of maintenance goes a long way, especially when you can’t see what could be lurking behind the scenes.

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