2 Drain Cleaning Mistakes You Might Be Making

When your bathtub stops draining or your kitchen sink gathers wastewater, you might be ready to toss on some rubber gloves and go to town fixing the problem. After all, since you fixed that sprinkler head out back and successfully installed that new shelf, how hard could a little plumbing be? Unfortunately, a single misstep could create a world of collateral damage. Here are two drain cleaning mistakes you might be making, and the problems they can cause: 

1: Using Homemade Drain Augers

After a few quick Internet searches, you might start scouring your house for items that you can use as a drain auger. As you rummage through tools and cleaning products, you might assume that any long, skinny object would work wonders on that simple drain clog. Unfortunately, homemade drain augers can create damage too.

Bent wire hangers can be difficult to push through the tight curves of plumbing, which might cause you to apply more force than you should. In an effort to clear that tough clog, you might unintentionally break apart your pipe from the inside. On the other hand, long wooden kebab skewers might seem like a simple way to push hair clogs through the pipe and into larger tunnels. Unfortunately, if that wooden stick breaks apart, it can become lodged inside of your plumbing, swell, and create a clog of its own.

Even if you are able to get your hands on a professional drain auger, chances are that you might not know how to use it. Unless you are innately familiar with plumbing design, you might not know how far to push the auger through your system, wasting your time and damaging your plumbing. Fortunately, professional plumbers have high-tech devices that can help them to evaluate and free even the toughest clogs. For example, your plumber might use an exploratory camera system to identify the obstruction, and then a rotating power auger to get it out of the way.  

2: Taking Plumbing Apart

If snaking objects down your drain doesn't seem like an effective solution, you might be tempted to snap a few pictures of your plumbing and start unscrewing pipe collars. You might figure that the clog will be easy to spot after things are taken apart, or that you can wash out pipes to keep future clogs from forming. Unfortunately, disassembling intricate plumbing networks can be as difficult as it is dangerous.

In addition to keeping track of several similar-looking pipe fixtures, you might also unintentionally remove permanent plumbers putty, which can be difficult to replace. For example, your bathroom sink drain might contain a flange with a stopper, which is held in place and waterproofed by a layer of permanent plumber's putty. If you start taking things apart, you could compromise that waterproof seal, potentially causing future leaks.

Believe it or not, messing around with exposed plumbing lines can even lead to personal injury or death. The P-traps underneath your sinks are designed to hold a small amount of water, which keeps these gases from escaping into your home. If you take things apart, sewer gas, which is filled with poisonous vapors such as hydrogen sulfide and methane, can fill the area where you are working. While low levels of exposure might only irritate your eyes or make you dizzy, high concentrations of sewer gas can be fatal. In fact, a 44-year-old Missouri woman died from sewer gas exposure in 2013 when she took apart her kitchen sink to fix it.  

Although you might pride yourself on your proactivity, don't risk making the same mistake. Always consult with a professional or sites like http://lowryservices.com if you experience drain trouble. You never know, it might help you to protect yourself and your plumbing.