Do you need to call a plumber, or should you DIY your sink clog?

There are few things more frustrating than a clogged sink, shower, or toilet. If you’re staring down a clog, you have a set of choices in front of you: do you try the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach and try clearing out the clog on your own? Or, do you call a plumber for drain cleaning help?

In this article, we’ll attempt to sort out these two choices and run through several scenarios where it makes sense to either handle the clog yourself or call in a professional.

Drain cleaning: the DIY approach

Most of us, at one point or another, have cleared a clog from a sink, shower, or toilet. Most clogs are relatively minor, relatively shallow, and—all things considered—relatively easy to clear out. In the kitchen sink, the garbage disposal helps prevent many clogs from forming in the first place, so clogs there are relatively rare.

However, every once in a while, you’ll encounter a much more significant clog. In one of the sections below, we’ll provide you with several of the signs you need to call in a plumber, but DIY drain cleaning is both possible and, even if it doesn’t work out, still worth a shot. Most of the calls to our team start with the homeowner acknowledging that they tried, but just couldn’t clear out the clog.

A final word on this before you start: steel yourself and your stomach for what you’ll pull up out of your drain. It goes without saying that hair clogs are pretty nasty, as are food clogs composed of trapped, rotting food. You may want to wear plastic gloves and a face mask while doing the work—it won’t make the experience any more pleasant, but it will help you keep your hands clean and your nose clear.

Related Article: What is the best way to clean drains?

DIY drain cleaning tools

If you want to try tackling your own drain cleaning, you’ll need some tools to help you get started. You don’t necessarily need anything professional-grade, but you should invest in some snake tools, along with a solid plunger and a drain tool designed to catch and lift out hair clogs.

For the latter, there should be a tool at your hardware store for this, but you might also have some luck using a metal coat hanger, reshaped into a “fishing hook” configuration.

One of the things that separates professional plumbers from homeowners when it comes to drain cleaning is equipment. Our plumbers have professional drain-cleaning equipment that—for most homeowners who deal with 1-2 clogs per-year—just wouldn’t make sense to buy.

This includes steel cable augers, powerful hydrojets, and motorized snake tools. As we’ll discuss in the section below, if you have a serious clog, you need to bring in a professional plumber with serious tools.

Avoid using drain cleaner

For some homeowners, a clog means getting the drain cleaner out from under the kitchen or bathroom sink. As plumbers, we advise you to be careful with drain cleaners. Liquid drain cleaners are incredibly rough on your drains and your home’s plumbing—after all, they have to generate a chemical reaction harsh enough to break through the clog.

Repeated use of drain cleaners can start to weaken your pipes, which is not something you want for your home.

As an added disincentive, drain cleaners are probably one of the most hazardous chemicals you can keep around your home. While you should always child-lock cabinets where household chemicals are stored, it’s also not a bad idea to just get rid of dangerous chemicals that only get used every so often—especially if you have young children.

Watch: The right way to clear sink clogs

Watch this video from the team at This Old House to see the best way to clear tough sink clogs.

Be patient (but not too patient)

The toughest clogs take some work to clear. If you’re using a plunger, expect to put some proverbial “elbow grease” into getting the clog loose. If you’re using either a snake or a hook to pull hair out of a sink or shower drain, set aside some time to do it. It might take a few goes before the clog goes away.

Here’s the thing, though: at some point, you’re going to need your sink or shower back. If you’ve given it your best effort and that clog still won’t come loose, it’s probably time to throw in the towel and call our team.

With Wagner, you know your sink or shower will be unclogged and functioning right again by the time our plumbers leave. You don’t always have that guarantee or peace of mind when you’re doing your own work.

Sewer line obstructions

Some clogs are just too deep and too serious to remove with DIY clog clearing. The most serious of all clogs are sewer line obstructions. This represents a blockage that’s formed deep in the sewer line, far out-of-reach for any tools a homeowner has access to.

Sewer line clogs aren’t just a tough-to-clear clog—they’re an immediate threat to your home. You’ll start by noticing that all of your drains have clogged at once. Any additional water added runs into the blockage. Unable to get to the sewer, it has nowhere to go but up. A sewer line clog can be the start of a catastrophic sewer backup and thousands of dollars in water damage.

If you’re noticing that you have simultaneous clogs in your home, you need to immediately shut the water off and call our plumbers at Wagner. We’ll need to bring tools to remove the obstruction from your sewer line once we’ve diagnosed what’s causing it. Sewer line blockages are most often caused by tree roots, but can also result from years of built up grease and oil forming a clot in the line.

Call us for professional drain cleaning help

Of course, your clog doesn’t have to be a sewer line blockage for you to call us. For decades, Wagner has been helping Albuquerque’s homeowners with all kinds of sink, toilet, and shower clogs. Our plumbers are ready to help you and your home get back to normal again. Contact us to get started.