Plumbing Tools Used to Unclog Drains

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Plumbers choose drain cleaning tools according to the location and severity of the clog. Rather than using chemical drain cleaners that offer a temporary fix, professionals unclog drains with rooting tools, plunging tools, flushing tools and drain removal tools. Because clogged drains are such a common problem, drain cleaning tools and equipment are widely available for purchase and rental at home improvement warehouses and hardware stores.

Rooting Tools

  • Rooting tools, also called drain augers or "snakes," fall into two general categories: manually operated snakes and motor-driven snakes. The primary component of both types of drain augers is a flexible metal coil with a corkscrew-like tip. A hand-powered crank rotates the manual drain auger's coil and an electric or gas-powered engine rotates the power auger's coil. To use a drain auger, the plumber inserts the coil's tip into the drain pipe and pushes the coil until its tip encounters the blockage. The corkscrew-like tip grabs the blockage and the plumber pulls the entire coil from the drain pipe.

Plunging Tools

  • Usually associated with toilet repairs, the common plunger unclogs drain pipes attached to sink fixtures, as well. The standard, household plunger consists of an inverted, rubber cup attached to a straight handle. To use a plunger, the plumber places the cup over the fixture's drain opening and pushes the plunger's handle downward. The sudden push forces a gust of air or gush of water into the clogged drain pipe, often strong enough to dislodge the blockage within a drain pipe.

Flushing Tools

  • Flushing tools use strong, directed streams of water to dislodge and dissolve drain clogs. The most basic flushing tool is a garden hose, but several commercially available garden hose attachments concentrate and strengthen a hose's stream for the specific purpose of unclogging drains. Unclogging attachments typically screw onto a hose's end. Whether using an attachment or standard hose, the point of entry into the drain system is usually through a vent pipe on the structure's roof. To flush a drain, the plumber finds the drain vent closest to clog and feeds the hose into the drain system. The plumber turns on the water and allows the powerful stream to dislodge debris.

Drain Removal and Repair Tools

  • In many cases, the most effective method of unclogging a drain is disassembling the drain and removing debris by hand. If a clog exists between threaded portions of drain pipes, a plumber can remove pipes with standard wrenches. If cutting pipe is necessary, the plumber uses a hack saw or reciprocating saw. Most cast iron pipes connect with semi-flexible, rubber fittings. Cast iron fittings' screw-operated clamps loosen with screwdrivers and nut-drivers.

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  • Photo Credit container of drain cleaner. bottle of sink & pipe unblocker. image by L. Shat from Fotolia.com
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