With most plumbing issues around Calgary homes and businesses, prevention is better than a cure. 

Regular drain cleaning plumber helps keep kitchen and bathroom drains free of clogs.

But in the normal run of things, drains can become blocked and we need to unclog them, clean them, and try to prevent it from happening again.

This post goes into how plumbing services you do that quickly and effectively — and without using harmful chemicals that can contaminate the water supply, cause health problems or harm the environment.

How to unblock a kitchen sink drain

If your kitchen sink is blocked, it is likely to be from food or grease that has clogged the drain and is preventing the normal flow of water.

In this case, fill the sink with very hot water and leave it for a couple of hours. That alone may be enough to clear the blockage.

If the blockage remains, get a cup plunger and, with rapid downward movements, force water through the clog to try to dislodge it.

If the blockage is caused by grease and fat blocking the drain rather than other food, mix very hot water with vinegar. This may melt and remove the grease blockage easier than just water. Leave the water in the sink for a few minutes and use a cup plunger as many times as you need to help remove the clog.

Mechanical means are generally the best way to unclog blocked drains. But if this doesn’t work, you may need some help from a microbial cleaner containing special enzymes that digest organic materials like grease and food waste — even hair, paper and cotton.

Choose a safe fluid that does not contain acid and some hot water. Stay away from chemical cleaners as they can damage pipes and human health.

Other ways to unclog a drain without using harsh chemicals 

We believe in choice so below are a few other ways to unclog kitchen drains if the hot water, vinegar and enzyme treatments don’t work:

  • Dish soap

You use dish soap to attack grease on plates — it can do the same if grease has accumulated in pipes.  

Firstly, remove any standing water from the sink and the drain. Then squirt dish soap down the drain and leave it for a few minutes to reach the clog. Then, flush it with boiling water.

Repeat this until the water is flowing again. If not, it’s probably not grease blocking the pipes.

  • Baking soda

Baking soda is a natural cleaner that, when combined with vinegar and boiling water, can battle against many of the most stubborn drain contaminants and blockers.

Firstly, pour boiling water down the drain to loosen the clog and warm the pipes. Then pour one cup of baking soda and a hot water/vinegar mixture down the drain and plug it for 10 minutes. Afterwards, flush it with boiling water and the clog should be gone.

  • Wire clothes hanger 

A simple wire clothes hanger can help clear blockages if you work carefully. Use a pair of pliers to straighten the hanger into one long wire, keeping the hook intact on one end. Carefully insert the hanger (hook first) into the drain, rotating it as you go. 

Once you reach the clog, rotate the wire a few more times and slowly pull the hanger out. You can clean off the remnants of the blockage on the hook and repeat the process until the water flows freely again.

  • Drain snake

Another mechanical method to unclog kitchen drains is to use a plumbing tool called a drain snake, available from any DIY store.

Simply place the end of the drain snake into the drain and turn the handle at the end. As the “snake” goes further into the drain, you will eventually feel resistance (the blockage). Rotate the snake until you feel it penetrate the clog. 

Then, crank the drain snake in the opposite direction to pull it out of the drain and run hot water to flush the clog.

Kitchen sink drain cleaning 

Now you’ve cleared the clog, how do you prevent your kitchen sink from becoming blocked again?

One good idea is so simple that anyone could do it: try pouring very hot water down the kitchen sink drain at least once a week. This alone may improve the situation if you regularly experience a blocked kitchen sink drain caused by the buildup of grease on the interior surface of pipes. 

Also, simply pouring a cup of vinegar down the drain, leaving it for half an hour without running the tap and then rinsing with very hot water can help the situation.

An enzyme-based microbial cleaner can also help prevent future clogs. Pour a little down the sink drain every month so that clogs are broken up before they accumulate into bigger problems.

Finally, a few changes to kitchen habits can help to keep a kitchen sink drain clean. Clearing debris and rinsing dishes before they go into the dishwasher can prevent excessive grease and fat solids from passing through the drains, helping them pass to where they need to go without causing blockages.

For smelly sinks, showers and tub drains, baking soda (see above) is a great deodorizer and cleaner. Some commercial products use natural cleaning agents to clean drains but avoid any harsh chemicals.

How can you prevent kitchen drain clogs?

Regular kitchen sink drain cleaning and making sure that people don’t put anything down drains that shouldn’t be there will limit the accumulation of grease and other “nasties”. These are the best ways to prevent kitchen drain clogs. 

Warm water emulsifies grease, which hardens as it cools within the drains. It may end up lining the pipes and eventually lead to unwanted blockages. Use hot water to fully flush grease out of the system. Even before then, scrape the grease off dishes, keep it in a jar until it solidifies and then dispose of it.

Apart from grease, eggshells, stringy vegetables and foods that expand with water have no place in drain pipes. Do everything you can to prevent any of these foods from entering your kitchen sink system. A wire mesh filter on top of your kitchen drain will help.

Garbage disposals in apartments are useful but make sure you run extra water after food scraps are disposed of to ensure they’re fully pushed down the drain line. 

How to clean a bathroom sink or bathtub drain

Bathroom sinks and bathtubs are easily clogged with hair and soap scum. Preventative maintenance can help prevent clogs and keep the sink and tub clean.

To remove hair, you can use a “drain weasel” tool or a straightened wire hanger (with a hook) to mechanically remove any hair or other debris. Pull out the gunk and flush with hot water.

Pop-up stoppers in bathroom sink and tubs should also be kept clean and free of hair. An old toothbrush is a good tool to use for this.

If there is a stubborn blockage, use a plunger (see above), the same as you would for a blocked kitchen sink.

Fix clogged drains in Calgary 

If your drains are blocked and you just can’t get things moving again, an experienced plumber from Alpha Plumbing can sort it out. All plumbing work is covered by our one-year guarantee for parts and labour.