Clogs closing off sinks and toilet drains are among the most frequent plumbing headaches that afflict homeowners. But the water lines that bring water into a house may also become clogged. Such clogs are more serious and harder to repair, as they prevent water from flowing through the pipes. If you notice a sudden drop in your home’s water pressure, check the water line for a clog before calling a plumber.
The most common clogs in your home’s waste pipes are caused by hair, food particles and soap scum that build up over time, as well as solidified grease. If left untreated, such a clog can reduce your home’s water pressure and can even result in the formation of a toxic gas called carbon monoxide. In addition, the clog can also attract household pests such as drain flies.
One simple way to clear a mildly clogged drain pipe is to use a wire drain snake. These snakes consist of a long handle with a flexible rubber section at the bottom, and they’re available at most hardware stores for less than $15.
Start by removing the pop-up assembly in your sink or tub drain. Then, insert the wire drain snake into the drain and crank the handle. Keep cranking until the handle is fully extended and the clog is removed.
If plunging and using a wire drain snake fail to solve the problem, you might need to try a more powerful tool such as an electric power auger. These devices are essentially large cables with electric motors attached to them, and they’re effective at cutting through almost any clog including tree roots. When you rent an electric power auger, make sure the rental agent demonstrates how to safely operate it before leaving the store.
Another approach to solving a clogged water pipe is back-flushing the hot water system. This process is usually done once a year to help remove sediment from the pipes, which can cause poor water pressure. If you’re comfortable with the safety aspects of this project, follow the directions in your home’s manual or on a manufacturer’s website to backflush the water heater.
If all else fails, consult a professional plumber to locate and clean the clogged sections of your home’s water lines. These plumbers often use a high-powered pipe cleaning machine to break up and dissolve clogs, and they can replace older, corroded pipes with newer ones made of more rust-resistant materials. In some cases, a plumber will have to detach the clogged pipe from its current location, remove it completely, and then install a replacement. This can be expensive, but it’s often necessary to restore the full flow of water in your home. This is particularly true if the clog is located close to your home’s foundation.