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PLUMBING SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
AGE of PLUMBING MATERIALS & FIXTURES
AIR DISCHARGE at FAUCETS, FIXTURES
BACKUP PREVENTION, SEWER LINE
BLOCKED DRAIN REPAIR METHODS
CARBON MONOXIDE - CO
CHECK VALVES, WATER SUPPLY
CHLORINE IN SEPTIC WASTEWATER
CLEANOUTS, PLUMBING DRAIN
CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
CLOGGED SUPPLY PIPES, DIAGNOSIS
CLOGGED SUPPLY PIPES, REPAIR
CLOGGED SUPPLY PIPES, HOT WATER
CONDENSATION or SWEATING PIPES, TANKS
CROSS CONNECTIONS, PLUMBING
DEBRIS in WATER SUPPLY, Water Heater
DEPTH of DRAIN & SEWER PIPES
DEPTH of SEPTIC TANK
DRAIN & SEWER PIPING
DRAIN LINE DEPTH
DRAIN a WATER HEATER TANK
FLOOD DAMAGE ASSESSMENT, SAFETY & CLEANUP
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLOODED SEPTIC SYSTEMS, REPAIR
FLOODED WATER HEATER REPAIR
FLOOR DRAIN / TRAP ODORS
FLUSHOMETER VALVES for TOILETS URINALS
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
GALVANIZED STEEL PIPING
HARD WATER - SOFTENERS
HEAT TAPES, Heat, Insulation prevent Freeze-Up
LEAD POISONING HAZARDS GUIDE
METHANE GAS SOURCES
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
MUNICIPAL WATER PRESSURE IMPROVEMENTS
NOISE CONTROL for PLUMBING
NOISE, PLUMBING DRAIN DIAGNOSIS
NOISE, PLUMBING DRAIN REPAIR
NOISE, PLUMBING CHECKLIST
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS IN WATER
ODORS, SEPTIC or SEWER
ODORS SEWER GAS in COLD WEATHER
ODORS, SULPHUR SMELL SOURCES
OUTHOUSES & LATRINES
PIPING IN buildings, Clogs Leaks Types
PLUMBING FIXTURES, KITCHEN, BATH
PLUMBING NOISE TRANSMISSION CONTROL
PLUMBING VENT DEFINITIONS & CODES
PLUMBING VENT DEFECTS & NOISES
PUMPS, WATER REPAIR
REPAIR BURST LEAKY PIPES
SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
SEWAGE BACKUP, WHAT TO DO
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
SEWAGE & SEPTIC CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE CONTAMINATION in BUILDINGS
SEWAGE CONTAMINANTS in FRUIT / VEGETABLES
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWAGE NITROGEN CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE PATHOGENS in SEPTIC SLUDGE
SEWAGE PUMP CLOG DAMAGE
SEWER BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SHUTOFF VALVE LOCATION, USE
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
SUMP PUMPS GUIDE
SWEATING (CONDENSATION) on PIPES, TANKS
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
ALTERNATIVE & WATERLESS TOILETS
TOILET FLUSHOMETER VALVES
TOILET INSTALLATION PROCEDURE
TOILET OVERFLOW EMERGENCY
TOILET PLUGS, SEWER BACKUP
TOILET REPAIR GUIDE
TOILET TYPES, CONTROLS, PARTS
Toilet Types, Flush Methods
TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PIPES, Clogs Leaks Types
WATER PRESSURE MEASUREMENT
WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS\
WATER QUALITY TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER QUANTITY IMPROVEMENT
WATER SHUTOFF VALVE LOCATION, USE
WATER SHUTOFF VALVE, WELL PUMP
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELL PUMP PRIMING PROCEDURE
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
How to de-clog a blocked plumbing drain - clogged drain troubleshooting & step by step methods to un-block a slow or clogged building drain: this article explains and illustrates in detail several simple methods used to un-block a clogged drain.
We explain how to remove and clean a plumbing fixture drain trap, how to use drain cleaner, how to use a toilet plunger, how to use a plumbing snake, and how to use a pneumatic drain cleaner such as the kinetic water ram to open blocked drains.
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A clogged plumbing fixture is common trouble - here we give some easy procedures to de-clog a sink, tub, shower, toilet, etc. When a building drain is clogged or slow, or when there is a septic system backup, it's important to determine where the problem lies, since the repair steps can be quite different and costs can vary widely.
Here we discuss traditional blocked or slow plumbing drain methods: taking apart the plumbing trap, using a drain cleaner chemical, using a toilet plunger (old faithful works pretty well), and using a plumbing snake (sometimes).
Article Series Contents
Separately at Kinetic Water Ram™ Opens Drains (link just above) we discuss our favorite drain de-clogging tool. Our photo (above) shows a toilet plunger that will work equally well clearing a sink or tub trap blockage. We like this particular model of toilet plunger because its shape pushes a larger volume of air and water per "plunge" than some simpler versions.
Watch out: if your building drains into a private septic system, clogged or slow drains can be a sign of septic system trouble. In that case, still the problem can be as simple as a clogged drain, or unfortunately it can be as costly as a failed septic leach field or soakaway bed. Here we include diagnostic steps to figure out what's wrong.
How to clear a blocked sink trap: before messing with snakes, wires, plungers, and plumbers, if the blockage is at a single sink or tub trap look into the trap with a flashlight.
Should I use a drain cleaning chemical on my blocked or slow drain?
Drain cleaners are discussed in that article at HOUSEHOLD CHEMICALS.
How to use a toilet plunger to clear a simple blocked drain: be sure that the rubber cup of the plunger fully covers the sink, tub, or toilet drain.
How to use a plumbing snake to clear a blocked drain: a plumbing snake is a flexible wire or coiled wire that is gently forced down through a drain (and in some models rotated by hand or by a machine) to attempt to clear the drain.
Plumbing snakes and wires are available ranging from tiny models that can clear a sink or tub trap to large two-person machine-operated rotating power snakes used by professionals to clear sewer lines.
The drain continued to be slow until we disassembled the building piping to see that the drain interior was nearly totally blocked by corrosion and mineral build-up in galvanized piping. Replacing the drain piping was required - a diagnosis missed by our first plumber and his wire.
Details of using a pneumatic or kinetic water ram tool to clear blocked drains - our preferred drain de clog method - are found at KINETIC WATER RAM™ Opens Drains. Excerpts are below.
How to use a kinetic water ram to clear a blocked drain: a kinetic water ram can be effective in clearing blocked drains and can be rented from your local "rent-all" store.
A "KINETIC WATER RAM (for sale)™" [link to buy at Amazon.com] pump uses compressed air to clear clogged building drains is also available. After renting a kinetic water ram drain cleaning tool to clear clogged drains several times we bought one and used it for many years. [You can buy a Kinetic Water Ram but you can also rent one at many tool rental centers.]
We were impressed with the quality and strength of our kinetic water ram drain cleaner. A simple mechanical pump compresses air in a cylinder. A rubber fitting is attached to an outlet end of the cylinder and held in place over a clogged drain. When the pump's trigger is pulled the ram releases its air in a bang that tries to blow loose obstructions in drain pipes.
The kinetic water ram drain clearing device can unblock some types of clogged drains even when the clog is distant provided you can assure that the drainpipe is full of water when the equipment is used.
We rented and eventually purchased this sine-qua-non of mechanical drain openers, the Kinetic Water Ram™ [available to buy on Amazon.com] - a pump device that will usually blow-out clogs, even remote clogs, in building drains. The Kinetic Water Ram includes a stainless steel air pump and rubber fittings that match the business end of the ram to a building sink, tub, toilet, or other drain.
Our kinetic water ram kit came in a steel orange box that included a collection of rubber fittings to let us use the tool with almost any drain opening size or shape. A few of these fittings are shown in our photos above. We have jammed our pony pump and washing machine hoses into this same carrier case but those have nothing to do with using a kinetic water ram to clear a drain. They just spend time together.
Steps in Using the Kinetic Water Ram to Clear a Blocked Drain
You can rent a Kinetic Water Ram at many consumer rental centers. To use the Kinetic Water Ram effectively you may need to Inspect to be sure that the plumbing trap for the fixture is secure and not corroded so you won't blow it off of the fixture.
Our successful bathroom sink drain de-clog photo (below) shows that the sink is running free.
One quick shot at about 20 psi was sufficient. You can see the 20 psi shown on the water ram's pressure gauge, above-right.
We let the water run for a good 10 minutes longer to be sure we have flushed the blown-drain blocking material out through the building drain and sewer piping.
When deciding how much air pressure to pump-to we recommend starting gently, and never use higher air pressure than is needed to clear the drain. Below you'll read why this we give this advice.
Watch out: be careful not to pump your kinetic water ram drain opener to a pressure higher than necessary. You can get quite a splash in the face when you fire off the ram if you're not careful.
Worse, in our dentist's office where a chronic clogged drain was later traced to mineral and rust-blocked galvanized drain piping, not only was the kinetic water ram drain clearer useless, in our enthusiasm we blew the trap right off of her bathroom sink. An elated moment of "we fixed the blockage" was followed by an "Oh S***" as the sink full of nasty water flowed out of the vanity base and across the floor of the dental office bathroom.
Keep in mind that the Kinetic Water Ram, nor any other product, plumbing snake, etc. is going to be effective if the cause of your slow or blocked drain is mineral or other hard build-up has lined the drain pipe interior.
This is a section of CLOGGED DRAIN DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR, our complete article that explains explains how to investigate slow or blocked drains and septic system backups to distinguish between a probable septic system failure versus a probable blocked building drain.
Continue reading at CLOGGED DRAIN vs SEPTIC PROBLEM or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.
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