DIY Plumbing: Drain Clog
If you’ve ever called a plumber, you know how expensive they are. Not to mention that plumbing problems frequently occur at the most inopportune times – like 10 p.m. when you’re getting ready for bed. And if you’re like us and prefer to avoid using poisonous chemicals around the house, you’re left with even fewer options when you have water backing up into your sink or bathtub.
I had to unclog a drain recently when my husband was not available and realized that there may be people who don’t know about this handy gadget to unclog drains. It’s called a drain cleaning bladder. It costs anywhere from around $10 to $25 and is reusable – unlike a container of toxic drain cleaning chemicals. It’s easy to use and fast, no waiting around for chemicals to try to eat the clog and then having to wait around until it’s time to pour hot water down your drain. While there is the possibility that it won’t work on your particular clog, there’s no guarantee that a bottle of drain cleaner will work either. So far we’ve never had a clog that the drain cleaning bladder did not fix, but we have had failed drain cleaning attempts using chemicals.
The drain cleaning bladder is a rubber balloon that you attach to a water hose and it blasts the clog through the pipe with a jet of water. There is a hole in the bottom of the thing and when the rubber balloon has expanded with water, filling the drain pipe until it can’t expand anymore, it then releases the water through the hole in a small, forceful stream. You can see a diagram of how it works in the photo of the particular drain cleaning bladder package that we have.
If you don’t have a long enough water hose to reach the problem drain, then you may need a few more parts to hook up the drain cleaning bladder to a faucet. There are adapters that will screw onto your faucet, with the other end that screws onto the water hose. You’ll then screw the hose onto your drain cleaning bladder. If you’re handy and have an old hose lying around, you can cut the old hose to a smaller length, add the correct hardware to the cut end so it will screw onto either your faucet or the drain bladder, and then you’ll be ready when you have a drain clog. If you don’t have an old hose or want to make things easier, you can get small sections of water hose, usually called a Leader Hose, and use this to attach to your faucet and drain cleaning bladder. If you are a more advanced DIY-er, putting in strategically placed clean-out ports into your drains will make things even easier for you.
You may need to go to a real hardware or plumbing supply store to find a drain cleaning bladder or order one online. Many of the large home improvement stores have plenty of things to make your house pretty, but we’ve found they are often lacking in basic items for true DIY home repairs. I would recommend that you get your drain cleaning bladder and any hose/faucet hookup system now, BEFORE you need it. Clogged drains rarely happen at convenient times and you’ll save a lot of time and headache if you’re prepared for them.