Archive for the 'Clogs' Category

Common Plumbing Tools

Oct. 25th 2012

Plumbing Tools You’ll Want for DIY Plumbing Repairs

The Do-it-yourselfer is the adventurous sort, who always wants to take a crack at a problem before having to call in the pros. Well, that’s a great spirit; why not try to find out if the issue is manageable and save what might be a hefty fee? You can gain a ton of knowledge in the process to equip you for the future. Among other things, one thing you often learn is that you’d be better able to handle the problem if you only had the tool you needed!

Since there is a wide variety of materials in use, depending mainly on when your home was built, and also on the care that has been put into the home over the years, whether you’ve owned it from the start or purchased a used home.

The materials used in your home (and the specific tools designed for use with each) will vary depending on a few factors. What is the climate? Is it a mobile home? Is there a basement level? If so, does it rest on a foundation, or on soil shelves? All of these questions play a part in determining what you are up against when you tackle the problems that will arise in your plumbing system.

Let’s run down the most common tools you will find yourself needing over the course of many of the projects you undertake, and maybe a few of the “would be nice” ones, as well:

Screwdrivers, both cross-tip and straight. Most faucets and drains are held on with a screw. Fixing a leaky faucet will require removing the handle. Some handles, however, may be held on with a small set screw, which may require a small straight screwdriver, or perhaps a hex wrench (commonly referred to as an Allen Wrench). All of these are staples of the home owner’s tool box.

An adjustable wrench will come in handy for nearly every plumbing project you get involved in. In fact, it is good to have 2 sizes – a 6-inch and a 12-inch wrench will be a complete set. These are better known in the vernacular, as “Crescent” wrenches.

And before we get too far away from the basics, let’s talk about the plumber’s helper – the plunger. There are two different types of plungers that will be the most helpful for clearing clogs in drains. The “sink” type plunger is a shallow rubber cup, which forms a seal around the sink or tub drain. If plunging a sink, seal the overflow hole with a piece of duct tape first, in order to enable the creation of a vacuum. A toilet, however, requires a differently shaped plunger, A shallow cup, suitable for a flat sink, could not seal as well on a toilet. This requires a ball type plunger with a flange, that can fit into the drain hole in the toilet.

Looking under the sink and tub brings to mind the next commonly used tools. To easily reach the nuts which hold the water hoses to the underside of the faucet, a basin wrench is an essential. This is a long handle with a set of jaws sticking out to the side such that they will only turn in one direction. To turn the other direction, simply flip the jaws over to the other side of the handle.

A drain snake is a very handy tool for unclogging a drain. A 2-foot snake can reach all the most common clog areas once the drain is uncovered. One of these costs just a few dollars. It might be nice to have a longer one for snaking some areas; a 25-foot snake is fairly inexpensive as well.

Moving into the basement, or the crawl space, whichever applies, we see the supply pipes that will lead upstairs. If your pipes are primarily galvanized steel, you will need a pair of pipe wrenches to deal with them properly. These are a little pricey, so keep an eye out at rummage sales and flea markets if your budget is tight. Probably a pair of 10-inch wrenches would serve well enough, but they come in various sizes. On a really tough joint, slip a steel pipe over the handle to greatly increase your force.

You may find copper pipes in your home, or, more commonly, PVC plastic, both of which are far easier to work with than steel. These must be cut and spliced together again to fix them when they leak. A hacksaw is useful for cutting these pipes. When it comes time to put them back together, though, all that is needed for the PVC is a can of PVC cement and a couple of fittings. For the copper, however, in addition to the coupling fittings, the “glue” that is necessary is solder, (pronounced “sodder”), along with flux. Both of these, when kissed by a propane torch, will form a water-tight seal.

You will discover as you embark on do-it-yourself plumbing projects, that the tools you will need will present themselves, and you may have, from time to time, to go and get one in order to proceed. But stocking up on these basics in advance will equip you – and embolden you – to begin many repairs that you might not have thought yourself capable of before.

Posted by plumber | in Clogs, DIY, Leaks, Pipes, Tools | No Comments »

How Does Drano Work?

May. 1st 2012

Drano works for both bathtubs, sinks, dish disposal units and bathtubs to remove debris clogging up the piping. The product was created in 1923 by Harry Drackett when he merged aluminum, sodium nitrate, sodium chloride and sodium hydroxide in a unique chemical combination. Basically, the hydroxide heats up the compound as the sodium dissolve as a mixture. Drain cluttering items from hair to soap and other residue are then removed once the heat is sufficient to dissolve them.

In 1965 Drackett’s company was acquired by Bristol-Myers, who was in turn bought out by SC Johnson in 1992. Brand extension has since diversified Drano’s action to unclog a drain into five different product lines. The five include Kitchen Crystals clog remover, Liquid clog remover, Dual Force Foamer clog remover, Build Up remover and Max Jell clog remover. There is a different type of clogged pipe served by each distinct product.

 How it functions

All material blocking a pipe gets dissolved by Dual Force Foamer clog remover, as the sole codes the entire wall by filling the whole pipe. As the clogging arterial is broken down by the heat created by the product, the force and heat of hot water flowing through the pipe flushes out the remainder of the debris. The operation of the Max Jell clog remover, by contrast, is to cling to the clog itself, law enough for the clog to be cleared. Since this jell operates with water within the drain, it’s best to use it in a sink filled with water. Every type of pipe is safe for use of this product.

For less intense clogs, Drano has sold a cheaper version called Liquid clog remover over the last two decades, which is helpful for minor clog problems. Build up remover is also safe for each drain in the house, and is designed to be used to prevent clog issues if used once each month. Its ingredients include bacteria and natural enzymes. It is designed to be safe for toilet use, making it the only Drano line product safe for that application. If a whole lacks a garbage disposal in the kitchen, kitchen crystals clog remover is the best match. Coldwater works best with it to get rid of grease clogging and other material.


Trap A is the bend in the pipe where most clogs begin to build, and the primary debris material is hair. Stubborn hair clogs are best dealt with using Max Jell clog remover. A foreign and miscellaneous object usually settles into trap B towards the middle of the drain. Drano can only work partially in moving out that material, but complete removal will require a plumber. A snaking device is the best option for plumber to use when there is a continued buildup of the clog in the drain.

Handle Drano products with care, and avoid having me contact with the eyes. If ingesting the product, seek a doctor’s assistance to address the situation.

Posted by plumber | in Clogs, DIY, Pipes | No Comments »

Unclogging Your Drain Without Using Chemicals

Apr. 20th 2012

You don’t have to use harsh chemicals once you encounter a clogged drain. In exchange for the short-term fix of unclogging the drain, the chemical agent may enter the water system or septic tank and badly affect the septic system, as well as the environment around you. In fact, chemicals usually don’t work when there is a completely stopped up drain, or no drainage situation. A clogged drain may be best serviced using a solution that is chemical free.


1) Use baking soda if the drain is slowly draining, in order to make it drain faster, and apply until it clogs by coming up from the drain. Pour in vinegar slowly at that point. The two ingredients will wash away the baking soda as it creates foam. When baking soda no longer bubbles, stop pouring. Debris and other junk should be cleaned from the pipe this way.

2) Unblocking clogs is best done with a plunger. Once the sink is filled with water, the plunger to be placed above the drain, pushed down in order to begin producing a suction action, then firmly up. The cost will go down the drain in most cases because the suction action causes it to get pulled backwards through the pipe in order to dislodge it. The drain should flow freely once the plunger’s suction action is repeated

3) Snake the drain. You can go to any hardware store to pick up the same kind of snake device that plumbers utilize. The snake should be pushed into the drain pipe once the basin is filled with water. This action should be done while turning the handle of the device. Once it reaches the clog as a result of feeding out the device into the drain, it should bore through the clog in order to clear it. Pull out the snake once the sink is draining, and a clog free pipe should be the result.

Precautions and pointers

  • Devices like the drain king increase the apparent pressure of the water by expanding within the drain, thus pushing the clog out of the blocked area and through the piping.
  • If there are cross beams or a basket that keep clogging material from going through the drain, the kitchen sink or drain cannot be serviced using a drain king.
  •  Hot water can be run through the drain king after you dislodge the blockage, and this allows grease to be cleaned from the pipes.

If using a drain king, being mindful of other open parts of the piping. The toilet, other sinks, etc., should be observed by yourself or someone else. Excess pressure in some cases can cause water to spew out from another opening, as result of the pressure pushing the clog out through those openings, particularly the toilet.


Posted by plumber | in Clogs, DIY, Pipes | No Comments »

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