How to Fix Clogged Pipes


Clogged pipes are a common household problem. Hair, dirt, grease, oil, food and other debris get washed down the drain daily. Once inside the plumbing, these insoluble particles tend to stick to the pipes, forming progressively larger clumps. As the mass of sticky residue grows, the flow of water through the pipes slows, until the entire system is completely blocked. Fortunately, in most cases a clogged drain is simple to fix. All you need are a few everyday items and a couple of hours.

Things You'll Need

  • Tweezers
  • Plunger
  • Paper towels
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup distilled white vinegar
  • Table salt
  • Wire coat hanger
  • Remove any visible debris from the opening leading to the affected pipe. Use tweezers to grasp hair or small particles. Wipe away grease, grime or soap scum with a cloth that has been soaked in distilled white vinegar.

  • Cover the drain with at least 2 inches of water. Place a plunger directly over the opening. Push firmly down, depressing the plunger. Pull the handle up, returning the plunger to its original position. Repeat, using quick, sharp movements. The pressure created by the plunger will break up most clogs and push the pieces through the pipe. It may take numerous plunges to remove a stubborn clog. If plunging does not clear the pipe, move on to the next step.

  • Scoop out any standing water and dry the area near the pipe opening with a paper towel. Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain. Follow this with 1 cup of distilled white vinegar. The combination of ingredients will bubble and fizz, breaking up grease and grime in the process. Cover the drain with a plug or small plate to help contain the chemical reaction. Wait 30 minutes.

  • Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil. Uncover the opening and pour the boiling water down the drain, washing away the vinegar and baking soda. Repeat if necessary.

  • Treat stubborn clogs with a 50/50 mixture of baking soda and table salt. Pour this clog-busting blend down the drain and allow it to sit for eight to 10 hours. This combination of abrasives will break through most common clogs. Pour 2 qt. boiling water over the treatment to rinse it away.

  • Straighten a wire coat hanger and insert it into the drain as a last resort. Push the wire until it reaches the clog. Poke and prod the obstruction to break up any solids. Flush the material away with clear water.


  • Photo Credit Ableimages/Photodisc/Getty Images
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