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How to Clear a Clogged Pipe

White PVC piping connect with PVC elbows laying on top of a wood background

How to tell if your pipes are clogged

If you suspect that one or several of your pipes are clogged, you probably have a few questions about how this happened and how you can fix it. Don't stress too much, we're here to answer them! The first thing you need to do is determine if your pipes are actually clogged. Luckily, there are a few tell-tale signs to help you determine this. If you are, indeed, dealing with a clogged pipe, here are some DIY options to consider. 

Tell-Tale Signs of Clogged Pipes

A middle age man wearing a gray sweat shirt making a fowl smelling face.

There are a few dead giveaways when it comes to clogged pipes. A clogged pipe can come with several noticeable symptoms.

Unpleasant Odor

According to an article by Alpha Plumber, one of the most noticeable signs of a clogged pipe can be the resulting odor. This isn't always the case, but if you notice a pungent and unpleasant odor, investigate immediately.

Backed Up Toilets

If your toilets don't flush, you should first try using a plunger. If this doesn't work, there are a few other solutions that you can try before calling a plumber.

Slow Draining

An orange bathroom countertop with an overflowing bathroom sink.

If your sink isn't draining or if it's draining very slowly, you likely have a clog in your pipes. If the clog ends up being too serious, don't hesitate to contact a professional plumber.

Water in Your Yard

If it hasn't been raining and you notice large puddles in your yard, it could very well be an issue with your pipes. Quite often, the culprit is a clogged pipe. This is another case in which it's best to call a professional plumber right away.

DIY Solutions to Clogged Pipes

Now that you know the tell-tale symptoms, hopefully, you've come closer to discovering the source of your problems. If a clogged pipe does seem to be the issue, here are some DIY options to help you fix your clogged drain.

Pour Boiling Water Down the Drain

A glass pot of bowling water on a burner

Unclogging your pipes can be very simple, but the required level of involvement really depends on what's clogging your pipes. In many cases, pouring boiling water down your sink's drain can erode or dislodge whatever is obstructing your pipes.

Try Dish Detergent

If boiling water doesn't work, there are a couple of stronger options that can remove the clog without damaging your pipes. One of them is dish detergent. Pour 1/2 cup of detergent down the drain and let it sit for half an hour. Steadily pour boiling water down the drain. If the clog still persists, repeat this step but let the detergent sit for an hour.

Apply Caustic Soda

A person pouring liquid drain cleaner down a sink drain

According to this article from Wise Bread, one potential solution to a clogged toilet involves the use of caustic soda or lye. Simply pour ¼ cup of caustic soda into your toilet's bowl, and follow it with a boiling pot of water. Once you've done this, you need to plunge the toilet to force the solution into your pipes. Ideally, it'll break up whatever's causing the clog. Caustic soda or lye is extremely dangerous and can cause chemical burns. Always wear proper safety equipment when handling caustic soda.

Utilize a Bent Wire Hanger

When it comes to clogged sink drains, sometimes, all you need to resolve the problem is a bent wire hanger. A wire hanger is pliable enough to snake down the drain, but they're firm enough to break up clogs.

Use a Wet/Dry Vacuum

If the previous DIY solutions have proven unsuccessful, you can always try a more powerful solution. As the name implies, wet and dry vacuums are designed to vacuum both wet and dry substances. If you don't already have one of these vacuums, purchasing one can be a large initial investment. However, it can cost less than a plumber. Plus, you only have to pay for the vacuum once, and after that, you can use it for other clog issues you encounter.

When All Else Fails, Contact a Pro

If all of these DIY solutions have been failed attempts, it might be time to contact a professional plumber. A licensed plumber can be expensive, but letting a clog get worse can end up causing even more costly damages. If the problem is outside your level of expertise, don't hesitate to contact a well-reviewed plumbing service to fix your clogged pipes before it gets worse.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.