Unclogging a drain is one of the most common home repairs that the average Joe or Jane will encounter at some point. In many cases, you don’t need an expert plumber to come in and disassemble your pipes. Most clogs are fairly easy to dislodge using a few basic tools and materials. Try one of the following fixes the next time your drain is clogged.

Boil Out the Obstruction

The easiest method to try first when a slow drain presents itself is a healthy helping of boiling water. Use an 8-quart stock pot or just a tea kettle to boil water to well over 200 degrees. Carefully pour a small amount in and let it sit for a minute. Dump an additional quart or more in and observe.

Leverage Baking Soda & Vinegar

If you’ve ever had to clean car battery terminals in a pinch, you know how powerful baking soda can be. Grab 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/2 cup of white vinegar and mix them together in a bowl with a large spoon. Dump that cocktail down the drain and repeat as needed to clean the pipes.

Punch through with a Snake

If the liquid treatments don’t work, get physical with a cheap snake made specifically for home drains. A halfway decent snake can be had from any hardware store for less than $10. Simply remove the drain screen and work the flexible tubing into your pipes, periodically pulling back to dislodge any material that may be stuck in bends.

Try the Wet/Dry Vacuum Trick

Believe it or not, an inexpensive wet/dry vacuum can actually suck an obstruction out under the right circumstances. A $40 portable vacuum with appreciable power can be had from a store like AutoZone. Put the hose into the drain, fit a piece of rubber around it to create a tight seal and fire up the vacuum.

Clean the P-Trap Manually

When all else fails, the obvious solution is taking out the P-trap and scrubbing it down. The “P-trap” is the U-shaped section of pipe you’ll find under a sink. Open up the slip nuts, take the U-bend out and remove any debris you find. Carefully scrub the pipe walls to reduce gunk accumulation and reinstall the section.

When Nothing Seems to Work

If none of the fixes described above are yielding dividends, it’s time to call up a plumbing service company. When you see an array of DIY repairs fail, it means that there’s a more serious problem lurking under the surface. A good plumber with years of experience under their belt will diagnose and fix the issue quickly.

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