Clogged Drains: A Troubleshooting Guide


A clogged drain may not be your worst nightmare, but it’s definitely not a fun situation to experience. With good preparation and knowledge, it doesn’t need to be a difficult task to tackle.

The best way to deal with a clogged drain is to prevent it from happening altogether.

  • Keep grease, coffee grounds, or any other materials that can congeal or clump up in a pipe out of your sink.
  • Clean your strainers and stoppers frequently. They’re designed to catch and stop debris, so they’re bound to get dirty.
  • Get your septic tank checked every few years by a professional to make sure it’s in peak condition.
  • Run cold water when using a disposal to help food particles down the pipes.

If your drain is already clogged, don’t worry. Here are some simple steps to get everything back in working order.

The First Steps

Before you do anything, make sure you remove any strainer or stopper that will restrict your access to the drain. Strainers, usually found in a bathtub or shower, can be taken off by removing the screws. Keep them safe so they don’t accidentally fall in the drain once you pull off the strainer though; you don’t want to give yourself more of a headache.

Some sink stoppers can be removed by turning and pulling them out, but some can only be removed by checking under the sink to pull out the horizontal pivot rod. Remove the strap, unscrew the lever seal from the pipe, and then remove the pivot rod. You should now be able to pull out the stopper. You may need pliers for the final step, so be sure to use something to cushion the stopper to avoid accidentally damaging it. It’s best to place a bucket underneath to catch anything that falls.

The Basics

If you’re a novice when it comes to working with plumbing, here are some tools and techniques that anyone can use.

  • Plunger: Plungers aren’t just useful for clearing a blocked toilet. They are perfectly capable of clearing blockages in a sink or bathtub as well, but we recommend cleaning it first for fairly obvious reasons. Provided the clog isn’t too far into the pipes, this step should be able to fix your issue. Fill whatever you are trying to unclog with a few inches of water before you start plunging to improve results.
  • Drain Stick: Drain sticks are great for clearing out hair trapped in your drains. You might need to maneuver it around as you push it down your drain, but once you’ve pushed the tip as deep into the obstruction as you can to help the barbs hook onto the material, pulling out the drain stick should remove the clog.
  • Chemical Drain Cleaner: When you’re buying chemical drain cleaner, make sure your pipes can handle it. It should say on the container itself, but if you’re confused, ask a trained sales associate for help choosing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, but don’t mix different kinds of cleaners. Mixing chemicals can create toxic fumes. Also don’t use a plunger or any other kind of drain-opening tool, as your skin could come into contact with the chemicals.
  • Auger: Push the auger’s cable in, and when you reach the clog, twist the handle to so it can dig into the clog, then twist more, push down, and pull the cable back up to break up the obstruction.
  • Flat Sewer Rod: Similar to an auger, push the rod in until it reaches the clog, then push the rod down and pull it up to break up the obstruction.

If none of these options worked or if you feel uncomfortable trying them yourself, it’s time to call a plumber to take care of it for you. For a plumbing and drain service that you can trust at a price you can afford, call bluefrog Plumbing + Drain. We offer free plumbing evaluations with zero trip charges, and are committed to top-notch service.


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