Fixture Drain Is Clogged

Problem: Water drains slowly or not at all through plumbing fixture drains.

Background: Assuming that the plumbing for the fixture was correctly installed, most blockages occur close to the fixture’s trap—especially if the clog develops quickly and no other fixtures in the house are affected. If a volume of water can be run into the fixture before it backs up, or if other fixtures are affected, the blockage may be further along in the drain system. If the blockage is in the main house drain, it may first show up at bottom-level floor drains. For toilet blockages.

What to do: Drains can be un clogged using several methods, including using a force cup with handle (often called the plumber’s friend), by removing the trap to clean it, by using a flexible coil spring auger, or by using chemical drain cleaners. (Note: If the trap below the fixture is accessible, one option is to put a bucket under it, remove the clean-out plug and rid it of debris with a bent coat hanger. If the trap doesn’t have a clean-out plug, you’ll need to remove the en tire trap. Be cautious about collecting waste water, especially if any chemicals have been used.)
If you use a plunger, partly fill the sink or bowl with water and plug the overflow drain. On tubs you will need to remove the pop up, or trip-lever, drain-stopper mechanism to be able to plug the overflow opening. On double sinks you need to plug the second drain. Don’t use a plunger if chemicals have been used. Coat the lip of the plunger cup with petroleum jelly and forcibly work it up and down several times. After the pipe is cleared, pour boiling water through the drain to clear the waste line.
If plunging doesn’t work, try using an inexpensive drain-clearing tool available at most hardware stores and home centers. The tool consists of a coil spring cable with a corkscrew-type auger on the working end. An offset, tube like handle with a thumb setscrew slips over the cable. The cable’s auger end is pushed into the drain until the clogged area is reached, then the handle is slid toward the drain, the thumb screw is tightened, and the offset handle is cranked. As progress is made, the screw is loosened and more cable is fed into the drain. (Note: A special version of this drain-clearing tool is sold especially for toilets and is often called a closet auger.)

Special advice: The drain-clearing tool’s spiraled auger can be threaded through drains with cross bars. For pop-up drains, you can try to remove the drain plug by turning and lifting. If that doesn’t work, loosen the screw and nut on the lift rod under the sink and withdraw the lift rod. If the tool can’t be worked through the drain opening, it can be fed through the trap’s clean-out plug (if it has one).

Helpful hint: A plunger and a small cable auger should be sufficient for most home uses so if these don’t work, consider calling a professional. Try to avoid using liquid drain cleaners when possible be cause they can damage pipes and drain traps. For blocckages beyond the fixture.