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Whether you’re renting your home, or you own it, one issue you are bound to have is the dreaded “slow drain.” Thankfully, this problem is typically nothing too serious, and you should be able to fix it on your own. Before you try to fix it, you should have a clear understanding of how your sink works and what is the probable cause for your sink or shower draining slowly. Once you understand the basics, there are a few key tricks that can help you unclog your drain, DIY style.

slow drain fixesWhat Type of Drain is Slow?

As previously stated, knowing how to fix your slow drain depends on two things:

  1. Which drain is slow?
  2. What are the common causes for that particular drain?

After those two things are figured out, fixing your drain should be a breeze.

Bathroom Drain

slow tub drainIf your shower or bath tub drain is not working as well as it use to, the most common reason for this is hair. It doesn’t matter if you have short or long hair, if you give it enough time, the hair will build up in the pop-up assembly of your shower/tub drain and cause it to drain much slower than normal. If this isn’t taken care of, your hair will soon trap other sorts of debris which will eventually lead your drain not draining all together.

Kitchen Drain

slow kitchen drainThe most common reason your kitchen sink would not be draining will be food related. One of the biggest culprits is grease that gets trapped either in the P-trap, which is the curved section of your drainpipe that is located under your kitchen sink, or the drain basket itself. Food itself can get stuck in the bottom of the P-trap and hinder waterflow. Not only will this problem be inconvenient, but it can also get smelly.

Other Common Drain Problems

Its important to know that just because your drain is draining slow, doesn’t mean that the problem is right at the surface. You should also be well informed about how your venting and sewer lines function, and what the signs are of a malfunction.

Sewer Lines

sewer line clogsThese are the main lines that will carry your household waste water and sewage away. One of the biggest things that can mess up your sewer lines is tree roots. The tree roots are attracted to all the nutrients that flow through these lines, and the roots will find any weak points, cracks or holes in your sewer lines. They will push their way into the pipes, rendering them useless. Its also important to know how old your pipelines are, because another common cause for sewer line problems is that they have begun to collapse or deteriorate. One big red flag that is indicative of a sewer line problem is if your toilet constantly clogs or flushes slowly.

Vents

vent stacksVent stacks are an important part of your plumbing because they allow air into your pipelines, reducing the vacuum effect that would restrict water flow. These stacks are in your bathroom and kitchen areas around your house. Typically, vent stacks are the pipes that are protruding through your roof. The most common reason they get clogged is by leaves, sticks and sometimes bird nests.

DIY Fixes

There are several things that you can try before calling in a professional to come and fix it for you. Just remember to clear out any standing water in your sink or tub before you try to move the blockage, as the water will get in your way.

Boiling Hot Waterboiling water for clogs

This is going to be your cheapest way to try and fix your draining problem. With this method, all you have to do is boil some water on your stove, make sure that there is little to now standing water in your way, pour the hot water into your sink and wait. You may have to repeat this process, but if the clog is small enough, this should move the clog along and out of the way.

Vinegar and Baking Soda

slow drain clogsFor this method, you poor about a cup of baking soda into your drain.  Next, pour the same amount of either white or apple cider vinegar down the drain. This combination will bubble initially, then it will calm down. Once this happens, put the stopper in your drain and wait for about 15 minutes. After that time frame, run hot water to see if this cleared the clog.

 

Plunger

slow drainsIt is a good idea to invest in a designated sink plunger, if you can’t fix the clogs with the previous methods. You can use a sink plunger on either a single or double sink. If you have a double sink, first seal off the second side with either a wet cloth or a stopper. To properly plunge your sink, you will need fill you sink up with enough water to cover the bell of you plunger. Then all you must do is plunge it like you would a toilet. If this works, you should hear the suction clear the clog, remove your plunger and run warm water for a few minutes.

Drain Snake

clogged drainsThis tool, also called an auger or plumber’s snake, can clear the clogs that might be stuck deeper in the system. You simply stick this down the top of your drain until you feel something stop it, which is probably the clog.  Then you twist it around until you feel the obstruction loosen. If the clog is even deeper, you will have to take apart your drainpipe and P-trap.

Conclusion

While DIY fixes save money, they do not always work out. If your DIY fails or if you just do not have the time to track down and fix the slow drain issue, we can help. Contact us today. We can help you get your drains flowing smoothly in no time!

Do you call a licensed plumber or DIY it? Despite the claims of popular DIY shows, not to mention YouTube videos, there are just some plumbing issues you cannot DIY. The key for the average homeowner is knowing their own limits. What might be a simple fix for a professional could run into two or three times the trouble and cost with a DIY-gone-bad.

That said, Knoxville Plumbing has put together a short list of plumbing issues that can usually be a successful DIY project along with ones that should be handled by a licensed plumber.

DIY

The most successful DIY projects will only require a minimal number of tools and will be in easy-to-access areas. They may require a trip to the hardware store, but should not take too much time out of your day.

Leaky faucets

Faucets leak from either the handles or the spout. To DIY repair the leak you have to determine where it originates. After you figure out where the leak is, turn off your water supply to the faucet. Next,  disassemble that part of the faucet, using appropriate tools. You may need to replace O rings, washers, cartridges, or an aerator. Taking the worn or damaged part with you to the hardware store will help you to figure out exactly which replacement you need.

 

Clogs

Most clogs respond well to DIY treatments. Try pouring boiling water down the clogged pipe, as long as it is not PVC. Other common and successful DIY tricks are plunging, baking soda and vinegar, or a small drain snake. You can also remove the P trap under the sink to try to find the clog. If the clog persists, or you do not want to start pulling your pipes apart, your best bet is to call a licensed plumber to get deeper into the problem.

 

Toilet “running” or “phantom flush”

If your toilet continues to run after the tank is full, it is usually an easy fix. These problems occur when there is a problem with the fill tube, the water level float, the flush handle/flapper chain, or the flapper itself. You will have to drain the tank and bowl to perform some of these repairs, so if it looks more troublesome than you have time for, just give us a call.

 

When to call a licensed plumber

We recommend every homeowner have basic plumbing tools, including a heavy pipe wrench, a water meter key,  an adjustable wrench, and a toilet auger. These jobs, however, can lead to much more complex problems and require specialized equipment and experience to correctly diagnose and repair. We recommend calling a licensed plumber for these kinds of jobs.

Pipes

Anytime you have to take pipes apart, you should have a licensed plumber doing the work. They will be able to assess multiple factors including the age of your pipes and the exact needs for your pipes when it comes to putting everything back together again.

Sump pumps

The sump pit, usually in the basement,  collects water that drains into the house from groundwater or perimeter drains. Once water has accumulated in the pit, the pump pushes the water away from the house. Your sump pump is an easy to forget — an out-of-sight, out-of-mind appliance. You do not want to forget or ignore it. The potential for serious problems if it is not working properly makes this type of installation, maintenance, and repair best for a licensed plumber rather than DIY. You do not want to deal with a broken or improperly installed sump pump.

Mainline backups

Gurgling sounds and water backing up in your drains, toilet, or bathtub indicate a major problem. Mainline backups require specialized equipment including a camera attached to a line to accurately assess the damage and plan repairs. The repairs often entail using digging equipment to access the damaged pipes. You definitely want a licensed plumber dealing with the wastewater rather than exposing yourself to this hazardous waste.

A failed DIY

If you get started with a DIY that turns into a nightmare, that is where we come in! Knoxville Plumbing has expert licensed plumbers standing by to help with any of your plumbing concerns. Here are a few of the most common DIY plumbing fails, according to Family Handyman. You can read details about each of these fails on Family Handyman.

 

10 Most Common DIY Plumbing Fails

  1. Overtightening connections
  2. Wrapping Thread Tape Backward or Using the Wrong Tape
  3. Using Drain Cleaners as a First Choice
  4. Tackling a Plumbing Job Without Spare Parts
  5. Not Turning Off the Water
  6. Using Too Much Muscle On a Stuck Shut Off Valve
  7. Sweating Copper Pipes With Water in the Line
  8. Not Having the Right Tools
  9. Mixing up Wyes, Tees, and Elbows
  10. Installing a Saddle Valve for an Ice Maker or Humidifier

Conclusion

DIY projects are a great option for many homeowners in the right circumstances. We appreciate the need to save money and the sense of satisfaction that comes from a job well done. But, if your DIY project gets out of control or if the plumbing problem is beyond your expertise, Knoxville Plumbing can help. Give us a call today!

Some plumbing issues are minor nuisances that you might ignore for a while until it bothers you too much. A leaky faucet, a slow drain, a running toilet that you have to jiggle the handle to get it to stop, are examples of potentially minor plumbing issues. Some plumbing issues require attention immediately before they turn into a disaster. Keep your plumber’s number handy if you notice these potential problems:

Leaks

 

Any signs of leaks such as water spots on ceilings or walls or under your sinks should be taken care of immediately. Catching a leak early may result in just needing to dry out the wet surfaces.

Leaking Water Heater

 

You probably don’t look at your water heater often so if you do see water around it take action now. It could be a crack in the internal tank. A small puddle can turn into gallons of water damaging walls and floors. Water heaters have limited life spans. Frequent inspections and maintenance is good practice.

A big Increase In Your Water Bill

 

This could indicate a leak in your underground pipes. It could be from a constantly running toilet that you never use or a leak in a part of your house that you don’t frequent.

Sewer Gas Smell

 

You’ll need a plumber if you have cracks in your sewer lines. Some sewer gas problems are easy to solve such as keeping the water level up in your drain traps by pouring a cup of water down the drain.

Mold and Mildew

 

Look out for mold and mildew on any surfaces. Check in closets and back of cabinets. A leak can go undetected for a long time and grow mold in a widespread area.

A Wet Spongy Lawn

 

A wet lawn when the weather has been dry could indicate an exterior water main leak.

Frozen Pipes

 

Thawing your pipes as soon as possible can prevent a burst pipe resulting in flooding. Your plumber can thaw your pipes and help you to prevent it from happening again.
 A good thing to do right now is to make sure everyone in your household knows how to turn the water off to the whole house in case of an emergency. If you have an instance that you need to call a plumber, it might be a good time to get a complete plumbing inspection to prevent other instances.