Signs You Need Drain Cleaning & How to Unclog Your Sewer Drain

Infographic of signs you need drain cleaning

Is your kitchen or bathroom sink having drain issues? Chances are there's a clog in your system. If you’re not sure whether you need drain cleaning, here at Smiley Drain we have prepared detailed answers to all the frequently asked questions to help you make an informed decision. Read on to find out.

Signs You Need Drain Cleaning Services

Slow Drains

When your kitchen sink or bathroom basin takes more time than usual to clear out, then that’s an obvious sign there’s a blockage somewhere in your pipes. And the buildup in the drain can eventually turn into a full-blown clog.

Foul and Unpleasent Smells

Some waste materials and small rodents can get trapped in the drainage pipes. When the materials start decomposing, they give off a bad odor. Any unpleasant smell should be investigated right away to prevent further accumulation of bacteria in your drain, leading to health issues.

Overflowing Toilets

If a toilet won’t flush properly and leads to an overflow, it could be a sign of a potential major clog. You know you need professional drain cleaning when using a plunger can’t fix the issue, and you always experience frequent overflow.

Water Backing-Up

When a drain is blocked, water can’t flow down the pipes. Instead, it comes back up the drains. If you forget and leave your tap running, the backflow can cause severe damage to your home.

Are Commerical Drain Cleaning Products Safe to Use?

Unfortunately, most of the commercial drain cleaners on the market have high levels of chemicals. They can have negative consequences on plumbing pipes, human and pet health, and the environment.

Effects on Plumbing and Pipes

Hydrochloric acid is the principle chemical you’ll find in the cleaning solutions. It is a corrosive substance that will gnaw at your plumbing pipes. It can also chew off the high-end floor finishes in the bathroom and kitchen. You should watch out for other harsh chemicals like sodium hydroxide and sulfuric acid.

Effects on Your Health

Fumes released by liquid chemical drain cleaners are not safe for your family to inhale. They can irritate your eyes and parts of your respiratory system. What’s more, the fumes often hang around your home for a long time after the cleaning solution has gone down the drain.

Effects on Your Pets

The drain cleaning solutions also pose a health risk to your pets. When using the cleaners, at least make sure your four-legged friends are nowhere near where you applying the cleaning solution. Also, you should not leave any traces of the cleaner on the surfaces.

Effects on the Environment

Fumes released by liquid chemical drain cleaners are not safe for your family to inhale. They can irritate your eyes and parts of your respiratory system. What’s more, the fumes often hang around your home for a long time after the cleaning solution has gone down the drain.

Drain Cleaning Products
Dangerous Drain Cleaning Chemicals

Make Drain Cleaner at Home - DYI Drain Cleaners

If you don’t want to use the harsh drain cleaners, you can try making a cleaner right in your home. Homemade drain cleaners are an ideal option if you’re dealing with some minor clogs. However, positive results are not guaranteed.

Well, here are a few options you’ll want to try out.

Homemade Drain Cleaner

Flush With Boiling Water

This is certainly the easiest way to unclog your drains. It’s important to pour the hot water directly down the drain. Repeat this, preferably in 3 stages. However, please keep in mind this method shouldn’t be used on PVP pipes.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

If the trick above doesn’t work, try vinegar and baking soda. First off, pour half a box of baking soda into the clogged drain. Next, pour half a cup of white vinegar. Place a metal stopper on the drain and wait for about half an hour before you can pour hot water down the sink.

What is Rooter Service?

Rooter service was initially invented to help fix sewer lines clogged by the invading tree roots. Today, a rooter service is used to solve several types of blockages that affect plumbing systems.

The plumbing technicians use a wide range of tools to snake through drains to break up even the most stubborn blockages and then flush them out. In some cases, the professionals may take parts of the drain pipes apart to get rid of the clogs manually.

A rooter service is essential, especially when the underground sewer lines are clogged, contributing to slow drainage, foul odors, and wastewater backup.

A licensed and experienced plumber can correctly diagnose the problem and tell you the type of service you need.

Yes, but you have to be careful. For the untrained eye, you risk making matters worse. You can easily scrape the sides of drain pipes and lead to cracks or complete breakage. Also, it’s possible to attack the wrong problem or miss addressing the root cause of the problem.

tree root removal and rooter service

Sewer Drain Cleaning With Rooter and Hydro Jetting

A rooter is basically an electric power auger. It is a large cable, which is moved through underground pipes to clear virtually any blockage, from tangled tree roots to accumulated gunk.

A hydro jet is a specialized pressure machine designed to clean clogged drains. It produces a powerful stream that can break up sludge and debris buildup, emulsify grease, and remove mineral deposits. While a hydro jet is powerful enough to cut through roots, plumbing technicians often opt for rooter machines when heavy tree roots are involved.

How to Prevent Clogged Drains in Your Home

MAKE SURE YOU INSTALL DRAIN SCREENS ON ALL YOUR DRAINS: A drain screen in a kitchen sink will help prevent the food scraps from going down the drain. It can also keep out things like eggshells, seeds, and coffee grounds. Installing the strainers in your bathroom sink and tubs will prevent hair from getting into the drains.

AVOID POURING GREASE OR OIL DOWN YOUR SINK: Grease and oil can stick in the walls of the pipes and easily clog your system.

AVOID DRAIN CLEANING SOLUTIONS AVAILABLE AT STORES: Most of the drain cleaners bought at stores are loaded with very harsh chemicals. If you use them regularly, they can damage drain pipes over time.

WATCH WHAT YOU FLUSH DOWN THE TOILET: Toilets can only handle human waste and toilet paper. Any other paper products and feminine hygiene products should be avoided. Having an excess of them in the system can not only clog the toilet but also the whole sewer system.

Watch the Smiley Top 5 Ways To Clean a Toliet

Common Questions and FAQs

You don’t have to wait until you see specific signs of a clogged drain to call professionals. It’s best to consider having your drains cleaned at least annually to maintain the efficiency of the system. However, you should expect the timeframe to vary depending on some basic factors, such as home occupancy and age of the pipes. The time can be shorter if a family is made up of many members, or the drainage pipes are old.

Most homeowners tend to only think about their drains when they’re slow or clogged. However, periodic drain cleaning will keep odors, emergencies, and damage at bay. Maintenance cleaning will be able to catch smaller clogs and remove potential debris in the pipes before they can become larger clogs. Also, regular drain cleanings will help extend the longevity of your pipes.

A water hydro jet sends highly pressurized water through a nozzle at the end of a hose, which is inserted into the drain line. Water jetting is a relatively recent addition to the many tools available for plumbers and drain cleaning technicians.

Hydro-jetting is ideal especially for removing grease clogs inside your main drain pipe. Using a traditional snake, auger, drain cleaning machine typically has no value with breaking down grease clogs. A sewer and drain cleaning machine blade will spin around inside the pipe and stoppage but have no effect in removing it. This is also the case when sediment or debris is inside a drain pipe. In these two particular cases, a water jet will be advisable.

Often an exact price of sewer and drain cleaning can only be determined once the extent of your problem can be fully diagnosed. However, be forewarned that many plumbing and drain cleaning companies are reluctant to give a price, and have various contingencies in place in order to change the price after it is quoted.

You should expect to pay what you were quoted with any changes mutually approved.

Unless some obvious and unforeseen condition exists, the price should remain intact. If any additional equipment is needed, it may be reasonable to expect a change in the quoted price. 

Signs You Need Drain Cleaning