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A plumber removes a clog with a drain snake.

These Are the Best Tools for Unclogging a Drain

In the bathroom, hair and soap conspire to stop up your drains. In the kitchen, grease is the common clog culprit. It’s a common frustration, but the right tool in the right hands can help.

Here are four clog-busting tools every homeowner, whether you’re a novice or a skilled DIYer, should have handy.

The Best Clog-Busting Tools and How to Use Them

The tool: Plumber’s snake
Best for: Deeper clogs that are too stubborn for the plunger
Difficulty level: Skilled

The plumber’s snake, a.k.a. the hand auger, reaches deep down your drain to either break through a blockage or hook the material causing the clog.

  • Uncoil the long, flexible cable down the drain by slowly cranking the handle on the drum. You may need to finesse the cable through the curved section of pipe beneath the sink, called a P-trap, by wriggling it or cranking a little harder.
  • You’ll feel some resistance once the auger head reaches the obstruction. Keep cranking! You want the cable to puncture the mass or grip it so that you’ll pull it free when reeling the cable back up.
  • Wind the snake back out of the drain. Don’t be surprised to find something gross dangling from the end.
  • Finally, flush the drain with hot water. Is the water flowing freely? If so, mission accomplished!

The tool: Channel-lock pliers
Best for: Disconnecting the P-trap to clean out a clog
Difficulty level: Moderate

In bathrooms, a lot of hair and debris goes down the drain, where it will get caught up inside the P-trap, the elbow-shaped section of pipe in the sink cabinet. You’ll need to remove it and clear out the gunk.

  • Place a bucket under the P-trap.
  • Use the pliers to loosen the connectors.
  • Let the trap drain into the bucket.
  • Pull the trap out (brace for more water).
  • Remove the sludge inside the trap with a wire brush.
  • Reassemble the P-trap being careful not to overtighten the nuts.

The tool: Cup plunger
Best for: Sinks and bathtub drains
Difficulty level: Easy

Don’t even think about reaching for that chemical drain cleaner! Chemical drain cleaners are so corrosive, they can eat through the drain’s interior with repeated use. A plunger is safe and more effective than toxic chemicals.

The cup plunger is designed to create a strong seal around the drain on the flat surface of a sink or tub.

  • For best results, submerge the cup under several inches of water to create an airtight seal.
  • Give it a gentle push to force air out of the cup.
  • Keep the handle vertical and plunge vigorously until the blockage is cleared.

The tool: Flange plunger
Best for: Toilets
Difficulty level: Easy

The flange plunger is your dedicated toilet tool. This type of plunger features an extendable sleeve on the rubber bell-shaped end that fits within the contours of the toilet’s drain, forming a strong seal. (The extension flange also folds into the cup so that it lays flat on the surface of a sink or tub, but you really should have both kinds of plunger to prevent cross-contamination.)

  • Be sure the bowl has enough water to fully submerge the plunger. You don’t want to force air into the trap.
  • Thrust the plunger in and out, being careful not to break the seal.
  • Don’t give up! It may take a dozen thrusts or more to bust up the obstruction.

Alternatively, you can use an accordion plunger. This plunger takes a bit more brute force, but its stiff plastic cup generates more suction to dislodge a tough clog.

If none of the tools did the trick, then you’re dealing with a heavy-duty clog deep within the drain that calls for a professional drain cleaning solution. The pros at Sunrise Plumbing & Air serving Garland and surrounding communities are prepared to help! To schedule your appointment, call (214) 997-6707.