The Dos and Don’ts of Clogged Drains

plunger and clogged sink

It’s not always clear what to do when you get a clogged drain: Should you use a plunger, a drain cleaner, or something else? And which methods work? With so many options, and so much bad advice, many people are left confused—and, ultimately, they choose methods that damage their plumbing!

Keep these dos and don’ts in mind to keep your drain unclogged and undamaged.

Signs of a Clogged Drain

A clogged drain occurs when sediment or insoluble liquids—such as food particles and fat, respectively—build up inside your drain. The buildup prevents water from flowing through your pipes, resulting in a clog.

The signs of a clogged drain are fairly easy to recognize: If your sink drains slowly or not at all even if the drain is open, then the drain is most likely clogged. Thankfully, it’s easy to prevent and fix a clogged drain with just a little know-how.


While you should do whatever you can to prevent clogs in the first place, unclogging a drain requires a delicate touch—and sometimes professional help.

Install a Drain Filter

A simple drain filter is the most effective way to prevent drain clogs from occurring. Whether it’s an inexpensive drain catch in your sink basin or a larger unit installed in your drain plumbing, drain filters prevent large food particles from going through your drain and greatly reduces the risk of a clog.

However, drain filters don’t completely prevent clogs, especially since oils and other fats often pass right through even some of the finest meshes. In any case, there are a couple of things you can try before calling the professionals.

Try a Plunger or Drain Snake

In many cases, you can simply use a plunger or drain snake to dislodge the clog. While this option might not be enough to dislodge major clogs, it’s usually enough for small-to-medium clogs that are easily broken up.

Chances are you already have a plunger lying around. If you choose the drain snake option, you can either purchase one from a hardware store or make one of your own by unbending a wire coat hanger. However, be careful with either option: Too much force from a plunger or drain snake can damage your plumbing!

Run Warm Water

Some clogs can be dislodged with warm water, particularly those resulting from buildups of oil, grease, and other fats. The constant flow can also apply enough force to dislodge the clog while gently dissolving its outer surface.

Call Professional Drain Cleaning Services

When in doubt, call the professionals! Professional drain cleaning services will not only help you with an existing clog but upgrade or repair your plumbing to help prevent future clogs.


Believe it or not, not every solution is a good one. If you do anything, make sure you don’t do these!

“Use Chemical Drain Cleaners or Acids”

While using a chemical drain cleaner or acids (such as vinegar) might help dissolve a clog, they’ll also dissolve your pipes at the same time! As a result, using these products can cause wear and damage to your plumbing over time.

“Plunge with Too Much Force”

Exhausted young woman holding plunger while talking to young plumber Your plunger might be more powerful than you think: If you plunge with too much force, the resulting water pressure can put stress on pipe joints and fittings, sometimes causing them to leak or burst.

“Hesitate to Call an Emergency Plumbing Service”

Unless you can unclog the drain on your first try, don’t hesitate to call in professional drain cleaning services! In many cases, clearing major clogs requires specialized tools and techniques to unclog without damaging your plumbing.

Even if you have a clog in the middle of the night, don’t worry: KC’s 23 1/2-Hour Plumbing is available 24/7 to help you with any plumbing emergency. Call us anytime at 760-327-8718.