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Bathroom : Repairing Clogged Drains

Worthless plunger Recommended plungerIf you have a clogged tub or sink drain, first try using a plunger, a good quality one. The old-fashioned, cheap plungers are worthless. If you own one of those, unscrew the rubber bottom and throw it away. Save the wooden handle for use as a paint roller extension, and then buy a quality plunger before you begin.

If the plunger failed to work on the tub drain, try removing the drain stopper. These attach differently—the ones that you push to close are screwed in place and those that work with a lever on the side of the tub can usually be loosened by wiggling the trip lever and pulling on the drain at the same time.

Once you have removed the drain stopper, check to see if hair or debris is the culprit. If not, try plunging again. If the drain is still clogged, use a drain snake and run it in and out until the drain is clear.

If the problem is a clogged sink, remove the drain stopper. It may come out just by lifting. If not it is probably attached under the sink, through a hole through a hole in the drain pipe. Vanity drain stopperYou’ll need a flashlight and pliers to remove the stopper. (Have a bucket and rag ready to catch water if the sink is full.) Unscrew the circular connector that attaches the stop lever to the drain pipe. Then remove the drain stopper. It will probably be covered with disgusting gunk and hair.

If the drain seems to be clearing, try running some hot water through it to remove any remaining debris. (Temporarily re-attach the drain lever and ring, minus the drain stopper, before doing this step to avoid flooding the cabinet) If the clog remains, it’s either in the sink trap or beyond. It’s easy to remove the sink trap—keep the bucket handy—but if the problem is beyond the trap you’ll have to use a drain snake to seek out and clear the blockage.

Once the blockage is cleared, re-assemble the drain and sink stopper, taking care not to over-tighten any of the nuts on the trap. Run hot water through the drain to clear any remaining debris, and develop a routine of doing so about once a week. Adding a cup of white vinegar weekly is also a good preventive measure.


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