From time to time you may encounter a clogged drain in your home. Hair is one of the main culprits that can gum up a pipe and cause the drain to become clogged. Before your rush out and buy a bottle of liquid clog remover, you should try a few home remedies. Liquid clog removers do sometimes work as advertised, but they are extremely corrosive, and can cause permanent damage to your pipes.
Clean the Strainer
Some drains will have a strainer, or a grid-like stopper, covering the drain opening. The strainer itself, as well as the area directly below it, can sometimes become clogged with hair and other debris. Check and see if the strainer is held in place with any small screws. Remove any screws, then use a small flat-head screwdriver to pry the strainer off the drain opening. Clean any hair and grime off the underside of the strainer. Stick your fingers down inside the drain opening, and see if you can feel any hair caught inside. Pull the hair out and discard. When you are finished, place the strainer back over the drain, and push it down into place. Replace any screws you removed.
Baking Soda and Vinegar
You can make a simple clog remover with baking soda and vinegar, and it is much safer on your pipes. Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down into the drain, then pour 1/2 cup of white vinegar down the drain as well. Cover the drain with a plastic lid or cloth, and wait for 20 to 30 minutes. The baking soda and vinegar will help break down the clog, and begin to loosen it. After about 30 minutes, pour a kettle of boiling water down the drain to help dislodge the rest of the clog.
A simple bathroom plunger can help push a hair clog out of the drain. Run the water in the sink until the water level is about three inches above the surface of the drain. Smear a layer of petroleum jelly around the bottom edge of the plunger to help it form a better seal. Place the plunger over the drain, and plunge the drain for 20 to 30 seconds. Remove the plunger from the drain, and see if the water level in the sink begins to lower. If the water does not drain quickly, plunge the drain again. Once the water drains freely, turn on the hot water faucet, and flush the pipes with hot water for several minutes.
Cleaning the Trap
If the baking soda or plunger fails to remove the hair clog, you will have to clean out the trap. The trap is the "U" shape piece of pipe directly beneath the drain, and can sometimes become clogged with hair and debris. Place a bucket under the trap before removing it, and make sure the water is turned off. Unscrew the connector pieces on either side of the trap. Hold the trap upright until you have it directly over the bucket, then turn it upside down to empty the water into the bucket. Push a straightened coat hanger through the trap to clean out the hair clog. Take the trap to another sink and rinse it out with hot water. Replace the trap back into its spot below the drain, and screw the connector pieces back in place. Turn the water on and make sure water goes down the drain freely.