How to Clean Clogged Drains

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Subject: clearing drains

We found that a stopped up roof vent (to vent sewer gas) was the culprit. If you can, make sure vent is clear by using a long pole. make sure top of pipe covered with mesh to prevent birds or leafs getting stuck inside. Clean it out with water pressure from a hose, or call a plumber to do this. You have to get on the roof so be careful.
To clear toilets...
Use dawn dish detergent and buckets of hot water alternately to clear organic (feces) clogs from toilet bowl. Let full strength dawn sit on clog for a bit in hot water. Try not to pour water so hard you make bubbles! Soon it will unclog!

Barbara Behrens


I have long hair and frequently clog the shower and bathroom sink. Used the "turbo snake" which is a small flexible wire with a gripper end and it cleared a slow sink. Used it in the shower (the flat one) and it brought up an amazing amount of yuk, hair! $20 at Target. Saved on a plummer!

rhonda may


Several times a year - either at the office or at home, the toilet will clog due to "soft" movements or large ones and plunging may not do the trick. If it doesn't just take HOT buckets of water and, after the water has gone down some, pour it in the toilet FAST. Sometimes it may take 1 bucket - sometimes more. I think the record has been 7 - but it usually does the trick.

Gerald Lamparter


If your toilet clogs a lot for no apparent reason, it's very possible that the smooth glazing has worn off the snaking water passage within the toilet. I had this problem 10 years ago with a 20-year-old toilet. The toilet kept clogging up. Twice I removed the toilet and took it outside while clogged. There was nothing in it but solid waste. The glazing had lost its ultra-smooth finish. I installed a new toilet which solved the problem.

Gerald Lamparter


The plunger you show for unclogging a toilet is NOT the proper one to use; RARELY does this type work on a toilet. It is designed to be used on a flat-bottom drain, such as a sink. Instead, use the one that looks like a a round ball with accordian-type sides. Place it in the toilet with the water level at the normal height (or higher). Then push it down slowly to compress it, thereby squeezing out all its air. Then, WITHOUT LIFTING IT OUT OF THE WATER AND ALLOWING AIR TO ENTER THE BALL, raise it a little to allow the plunger to FILL WITH WATER. Then push down on the plunger. If necessary, add some water to the bowl and repeat. This has never failed for me.

Patrick Meadows


We had bad drains for years. During a bathroom rehab the main line clogged for good. The 'rooter' man found a rock in the main line that had been there from day one. Probably from a disgruntled worker when the house was built.

Kevin Durham



We recently had a plumber out for a routine checkup (part of a maintenance package). He explained that slow drains were often caused by organic build-ups (read: natural skin/hair oils, hair itself, food rinsed from dishes, toilet waste, etc.). He suggested buying a microbial drain cleaner (like this: You can also get the stuff at Lowes or Home Depot, just don't bother with the cheap stuff and don't use Liquid Plumr or Draino, they corrode your pipes and kill these IMPORTANT microbes. He said follow direction on bottle monthly for each sink & toilet in the house. As the mocrobes and enzymes build up they eat the gunk out of the inside of the pipes. It may take weeks, but it will make your plumbing last a LOT longer and cut down on plumber calls.

Good luck,

Carol-Ann Redmon-Phillips


Our home is about 50 years old. Our bathroom drains clog up and drain slowly all the time. Now the kitchen sink is doing the same thing. We have tried Liquid Plumr, Drano, practically everything know to "man & beast". What do you recommend?? HELP, PLEASE!! We really try hard to be careful what we put down the drains. No oil baths, little or no hair, no makeup, no grease down the sink. What can we get to get a free-flowing drain field? We are on city water, not a well.

Peter Teubner


Not all plungers work equally well. You show the old, very basic plunger. Also, it is not just the items that should not be flushed down. We a have one of the top rated brands, about 10 years old now, but have had too many clogged events over the years. It is the bad design of the down flush area that creates the clogs.

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I second the original question (still unanswered). Speaking as someone who logged in today to try to find an attorney, I see this category as one that's exactly what I have my Angie's List membership for:

1. It's important that I find a good one
2. I'm not an expert enough to know myself who is a good one
3. The industry is full of advertisements and misinformation
4. I wish I knew what experiences other people have had

I don't care about lawns--I planted mine in clover and don't have to mow it. When I do need to mow I use a rotary Fiskars mower, which is great--or a scythe. That's right--a scythe (the European type, which is smaller, and it's very good exercise). Gas-powered mowers, chemical fertilizers and weed killers--all nasty stuff that gets into everyone's air, soil, and water. I'm sure my neighbor doesn't like my wildflowers, semi-wild pockets of fruit bushes, and unmown areas and yes, dandelions (I have 10 acres) but that's too bad. It's better habitat for wildlife, especially the pollinators on which our food supply depends. I think this obsession with the Great American Lawn is a waste of time and resources. Plant some food instead.

I'm not sure Angie et. al. want you to have a complete answer to this question. By re-subscribing at the Indiana State Fair in 2012, I think I paid $20.00 per year for a multi- year subscription. Maybe even less. At the other extreme--and I hope my memory isn't faulty about this--I think the price, for my area, for ONE year was an outrageous $70.00. And they debited me automatically without warning. I had to opt out of that automatic charge. I like Angie's List, but if some of the companies they monitor behaved the way they do in this respect, they'd be on some sort of Pages of Unhappiness. I'll be interested to see if this comment gets published or censored out of existence.

That's very difficult to answer without seeing the house. As one poster said, the prep is the most important part. On newer homes that don't have a lot of peeling paint, the prep can be very minimal even as low as a couple or a few hundred dollars for the prep labor.

On a 100 year old home with 12 coats of peeling paint on it, then the prep costs can be very high and can easily exceed 50% of the job's labor cost.

A 2100 sq ft two story home could easily cost $1000 just for the labor to prep for the paint job. That number could climb too. Throw in lots of caullking  or window glazing, and you could be talking a couple or a few hundred dollars more for labor.

Painting that home with one coat of paint and a different color on the trim could run roughly $1000 or more just for labor. Add a second coat  and that could cost close to another $1000 for labor.

For paint, you may need 20 gallons of paint. You can pay from $30-$70 for a gallon of good quality exterior paint. The manufacturer of the paint should be specified in any painting contract. Otherwise, the contractor could bid at a Sherwin-Williams $60 per gallon paint and then paint the house with $35 Valspar and pocket the difference. $25 dollars per gallon times 20 gallons? That's a pretty penny too.

That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is $2000 to $4000 and up, depending upon the amount of prep, the number of coats, the amount of trim, and the paint used.