On the market we find various types of drain cleaners, with different uses and different prices. A large division can be made between mechanical drain cleaners and liquid drain cleaners, mostly chemical compounds. Let's say straight away that it is better to do some tests with mechanical instruments before resorting to liquid preparations. In fact, mechanical drain cleaners do not impact the environment. Additionally, chemicals are corrosive and must be handled with care. Today there are also ecological and biodegradable liquid drain cleaners, but not all of them give acceptable results. Let's now look at the different opportunities in more depth.
Suction cup plungers
If you think of a plunger, probably the only, or at least the first, object that comes to mind will be the classic pressure plunger. That wooden stick with a rubber cup attached to the end, so to speak. In fact, the suction cup plunger is a very useful tool and almost everyone has one at home. But knowing how to use it is not trivial at all. First of all, you should know that the pressure drain cleaner works best if there is water in the blocked pipe. Therefore place the suction cup in the sink, right on the drain pipe, open the tap and fill with water until it covers the rubber bell. If you want to do a perfect job, sprinkle the part of the suction cup that is in contact with the surface with Vaseline: this way there will be no air leaks and the grip will be perfect. Once the suction cup is in place, push on the handle and then pull. Perform the operation more than once. It takes a little elbow grease! When you think you're good, stop. At this point the drain should clear. The air pressure causes the obstacle to move and the road to clear. Remove the plunger, open the tap and check.
If you haven't had success with the suction cup plunger, you may need something more effective. The spring plunger consists of a tube, more precisely a spring, with a spiral tip. The spring is usually around three meters long and is flexible. At one end there is a crank, at the other the tip. The hose is inserted directly into the drain, slowly, rotating the handle if necessary. You have to insert it and let it penetrate until you feel it stop: when it stops it means it has hit your obstacle. As soon as it stops, twist the handle, so that the tip breaks the blocking object and breaks it into smaller pieces. Once destroyed, the item should flow smoothly down the drain. The spring plunger is an economical tool and does not damage the pipes.
Compressed air gun
This is the mechanical drain cleaner that requires less physical effort. It's also a pretty quick method. This is a gun with a suction cup attached to the end. Place the suction cup on the drain and pull the trigger. The projectile in this case will be…simply the air! The pressure, in fact, will be so strong that it will move the obstacle and, more often than not, destroy it, definitively solving the problem.
Now let's move on to another type of solution, and take into consideration the range of chemical products. You can find different types in stores, but they all have in common that they are highly corrosive. If used rarely, they have no harmful effects and do not cause damage to pipes. Some are liquid, others powder. Before acting, read the instructions on the package carefully: some types need added water, while others must be used absolutely dry. I recommend you spend some time reading the product labels. It contains fundamental information, such as composition and instructions, but above all precautions for use. By reading carefully, you will realize that they are very important and give you valuable advice on what to do and, especially, what not to do. Among the products on the market, one widely used is caustic soda. If you decide to use caustic soda, be very careful: it is a scalding product, especially in contact with water. Therefore, if you want to use it, you better not forget to equip yourself with rubber gloves. Then proceed: you must put the caustic soda down the drain and then pour boiling water over it, taking care not to cause splashes, which would be dangerous.
Other DIY methods
If you have not been able to unblock your blockage and the blockage is more difficult than ever, then the obstacle blocking your pipe will probably be a rather large object. Maybe you have children and you didn't realize they threw something down the sink; or something has inadvertently fallen into the drain from the cabinet located right above the sink. If the object is visible to the naked eye, you can try to remove it with tweezers, being careful not to push it further down. If you are good at DIY, you can use a rigid iron wire, shaped with a hook at the end. Before acting, try looking with a flashlight to understand how the object is positioned. If you can't see the object even with the flashlight, there is only one solution left. At this point, you must dismantle the siphon. Before doing this, place a bucket under the pipe, because water will surely fall. Then, unscrew the siphon and remove the object. Clean the siphon well and reassemble it.
How to keep drains clean
Finally, we want to give you some simple tips to keep drains clean and avoid traffic jams. Taking care of drains should be a good habit for everyone. Of course, we must do this by acting consciously, that is, with economical and ecological methods. First of all, let's try not to throw oil or other fats down the kitchen drain. The same goes for food residues: always be careful. For maintenance, the first thing is to run a little boiling water down the drains from time to time: it's useful and it's also a quick and easy gesture. Bicarbonate and vinegar, even combined, are two excellent elements for our purpose. Create a mixture to do once a week and you will see the results. I advise you to throw the mixture down the drain in the evening, so that it has the opportunity to act all night, without the water being run repeatedly. Bicarbonate, in addition to being ecological, works well thanks to its effervescent action and also has a deodorant effect. You can also add coarse salt to the mixture. Coffee grounds are useful, because they do not corrode and help keep drains cleaner, thanks to a light abrasive action. Don't overdo it though, you could get the opposite effect or block the drain.
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