Tips on drain cleaning equipment every home needs

November 10, 2014

If you own a home, especially an old one, it's important to familiarize yourself with the gear that will help you keep the pipes running trouble-free. Nobody enjoys contemplating what actually goes on down there in your home's wastewater system. It's icky, to say the least. But it's the smart homeowner who takes the trouble to understand how, where and why clogs happen, and what it takes to battle them.

Tips on drain cleaning equipment every home needs

1. Tools you should own

  • Plungers are always useful for clearing routine clogs that collect in toilets and sink traps. Use a flanged, bell-shaped plunger for the latter, and an ordinary cup-shaped one for sinks. Remember that if you're plunging one-half of a double sink, or a sink or tub with an overflow port, it's important to stuff up that secondary orifice with a rag so that the plunge pressure is directed down into the drain pipe.
  • Snake is the plumber's term for cable de-cloggers designed to twist, turn and poke through the convolutions of your system. A standard reel holding eight metres of line is an inexpensive and indispensable piece of your plumbing kit.
  • A closet auger is a simple mini-snake that threads a cable through the inside of the toilet, where clogs frequently occur.

2. Tools the pros use

  • A power auger is a thicker version of a snake that has a motorized reel and 30 metres or more of reach. It's often the tool of choice for eliminating clogs in the main sewer line out from your home. Tipped with a variety of cutter bits (there's even a root-shearing attachment), the operator feeds the spinning cable into the pipe. They are commonly available for rent, but that would only be recommendable if you are a confident user of power tools.
  • Hydro-jetting involves feeding a high-pressure hose into the sewer and blasting away accumulated gunk. While there are attachments for household pressure washers that enable the homeowner to accomplish a version of this, commercial jetting services use much more powerful pressure and do a much more thorough job.

3. Non-mechanical cleaners

  • Ordinary household chemical drain cleaners work great on TV, but they seldom clear away anything more stubborn than minor clogs.
  • Frankly, for a drain that's prone to repeated clogs, you're better off administering a scrubbing treatment of vinegar and baking soda on a regular basis.
  • Avoid the temptation of using highly corrosive chemicals that boast of being super drain cleaners. Not only are they terrible for the environment, they can harm people and pipes when used improperly.
  • Meanwhile, earth-friendly enzymatic cleaning powders can achieve remarkable, if undramatic, results.
  • However, only a professional who knows your system can make the right call when it comes to any drain cleaning strategy.
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