Person wearing gloves using a plunger on a sink drain.

Best Way to Unclog a Drain

Picture it: you hit the flusher and are about to walk out the bathroom when you notice the water the bowl threatening to rise above the rim. A quick rush of panic comes over you, and find yourself doing anything you can to fix the issue FAST.

From your sink to your toilet, we have some professional tips on ways every homeowner can unclog a drain:


Go For The Plunge

Toilet: You need to free the toilet drain of the clog ASAP. The first plan of attack is a plunger, but not just any plunger will do. A toilet clog requires a particular tool: the flange plunger.

A flange plunger looks like your standard plunger, but with one key difference: the rubber bell narrows at the end to create a stronger seal in the contours of the bowl.

First, push the plunger gently to remove the air from the cup. Then push with more force. It may take several pushes to break up the clog.

Tub or sink: The flatter surface of your bathtub and sinks will require a standard cup plunger. Make sure the sink or bathtub contains a few inches of water. This will help create a good seal between the plunger and the drain. Firmly plunge up and down until the drain flows freely. If you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn stoppage, you may need to upgrade to an accordion plunger. Its shape allows for greater pressure, though it requires a bit more muscle to generate force.


Snake it

Toilet: The clog is likely in the first S-bend -- that’s the curved pipe at the base of the toilet. At about three feet long, a household toilet auger should do the job. Simply spin the coil down into the drain to pull out the obstruction.

Tub: Remove the overflow plate from under the faucet. It will be connected to the stopper mechanism, which you can pull out through the hole. Insert the snake into the hole and crank the handle on the drum. Keep turning the handle until you feel resistance. You’ve found the clog. Keep cranking until the snake pushes past the blockage. Next, turn the handle in the reverse direction to rewind the snake up. Caution: it will be covered in grime.

Sink: Before running a snake down the drain, check the P-trap -- that’s the U-shaped section of pipe below the sink. Place a bucket under the trap and unscrew the nuts at each end. Once disconnected, empty the trap into the bucket and check the pipe for a blockage, such as a wad of hair. Nothing there? Re-connect the P-trap, being careful not to overtighten the nuts -- they strip easily.

Now, onto the snake: push it into the drain opening and turn the handle. It may take a little force to get it through the P-trap. Once past the P-trap, it will continue a smooth journey down your drain until it meets the clog. Keep cranking. The twisting action should grab hold of the stoppage so you can pull it free.


Rely on the experts at EJ Plumbing by calling us at (650) 513-8852!