Whether in your sink, shower, or toilet, having a clogged drain can be a huge inconvenience. It disrupts your daily routine and can lead to property damage if left untreated. While calling a plumber is always an option, you can sometimes take simple steps to clear your drains. Learn how to clear your drains and when to call a plumber to do the job instead.

1. The Plunger Method

The plunger is a tried and tested tool that works on many smaller clogs. It’s the first tool that comes to mind when your toilet or sink is clogged. It creates pressure and suction, pushing or pulling the blockage out of the way.

First, you need to choose the right type of plunger for the site of the clog. A cup plunger is best for sinks, while a flange or accordion plunger works best on clogged toilets.

Next, remove as much water as possible from the sink or toilet bowl, and place the plunger over its opening to form a seal. Then, holding the handle firmly, push and pull, creating a vacuum effect. Repeat the process until the clog is cleared.

If you think you’ll be clearing clogs on a regular basis, you might want to keep a couple of different types of plungers on hand. This way, you can avoid cross-contamination because you’ll never want to use the toilet plunger in the sink.

2. The Baking Soda and Vinegar Method

Mixing baking soda and vinegar is another highly effective way to unclog your drains. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a natural cleaner that can neutralize bad odors. Vinegar is an acidic solution that can dissolve stubborn clogs. You’ll also need a kettle of boiling water.

First, mix 1 cup of white vinegar with the same amount of hot tap water, and set this solution aside. Next, pour the boiling water down the drain, followed by 1/2 cup to 1 cup of baking soda. Let the baking soda sit for a few minutes, then send the vinegar-and-water solution down the drain. This will create a fizzing effect that can break apart the clog.

Plug the drain, and leave the mixture to work its magic for 10 to 15 minutes. Finally, unplug the drain and flush it with more boiling water.

3. The Plumbing Snake Method

A plumbing snake, also known as an auger, clears more stubborn clogs. To use this method, remove any standing water from the toilet, sink, or bathtub, and insert the plumbing snake into the drain opening. Turn the crank clockwise, pushing the snake deeper into the drain.

When you reach the clog, twist the snake until it breaks through the blockage. Once you succeed in conquering the clog, remove the snake and run hot water to flush any debris left in the pipe. Keep in mind that while you can use a regular drain snake in a toilet, a toilet auger is better. It’s designed specifically for use in commodes and has rubber to protect the fixture’s porcelain.

4. The Boiling Water Method

Use boiling water for a simple but effective method to break down clogs in sinks or bathtubs that were caused by grease or soap buildup. Ensure there’s no standing water in the sink or tub, then carefully pour a few quarts of boiling water down the drain, and wait a few moments for the clog to dissolve.

You can repeat the process if necessary. This can be effective as a maintenance technique to keep your drains free of blockages and foul odors.

When to Hire a Plumber

Here are some signs that it’s time to hire a professional.

Persistent Clogs

While minor blockages can often be fixed using a plunger or pipe snake, persistent clogs might indicate that it’s time to call the professionals. A stubborn clog that won’t budge could indicate a more significant underlying issue, such as a buildup of debris in your pipes or a damaged sewer line.

Fixing the problem yourself could result in further damage or costly repairs. Plumbers have access to more powerful tools. Motorized pipe snakes can break up almost anything, including tree roots in the sewer lines. We can also use cameras to see exactly the cause of the problem.

Foul Odors

Bad smells can be particularly distressing when the source is your home’s plumbing system. If an unpleasant odor is coming from your sinks or drains, it’s time to call a professional plumber. Foul odors usually indicate a significant blockage in your plumbing pipes. If not addressed promptly, this can lead to even bigger problems, including sewage backups.

Slow Draining

Slow draining is one of the most frustrating plumbing problems to encounter. Despite using drain cleaning solutions or DIY plumbing hacks, the water still takes forever to go down the drain. This could indicate a bigger problem, such as a clogged main sewer line. Trying to fix this alone could lead to a bigger and costlier problem. Contact a professional plumber today for reliable and efficient solutions.


There’s nothing quite as overwhelming as a flooded room in your home. When it comes to severe water damage, time is of the essence, and often the solution requires more than just a plunger and a little elbow grease.

Flooding can signify a major plumbing issue that needs immediate attention from a professional plumber. Whether the issue is burst pipes or a faulty sump pump, a licensed plumber can quickly identify the problem and its source. They can then implement a fix to resolve it and prevent it from recurring.

Visible Leaks

Call a professional plumber if you notice any visible water leaks. This includes drips under sinks and from faucets or running toilets. Leaks can cause major damage, not only to your home but also to your wallet. A trained plumber has the skills and expertise to detect the source of the leak and provide reliable solutions to prevent further damage.

Noise and Vibration

If you notice unusual noises or vibrations from your plumbing system, they could indicate a major issue. Our licensed plumbers can detect the source of the noise or vibration, and diagnose any underlying issues. We can then provide quick and efficient solutions to resolve the problem and prevent it from occurring again.

Keep Things Flowing

To avoid plumbing problems, always be mindful of what you’re putting down the drain. Items like wipes, feminine hygiene products, and other foreign objects can cause a blockage in your drains. Large food scraps, coffee grounds, grease, and vegetable peelings can clog the drain in the kitchen. It can be costly and time-consuming to resolve these issues.

At Express Plumbing Heating & Air, we can respond as quickly as 30 minutes when you have a plumbing emergency. We can assist you with a range of plumbing services, including drain and sewer repairs. We also offer heating and AC installation, repair, and maintenance. Contact our team at Express Plumbing Heating & Air for all your plumbing and HVAC needs in Boise, ID and the surrounding areas.

Brad Jordan

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