One of the most common and frustrating plumbing problems is a slow drain – in other words, a sink or tub that isn’t draining very well. The water might eventually drain away but it often takes a long time, and can leave you with a sink full of dirty water and a line of scum in your sink once the water does drain away.
Slow draining drains are often caused by a mixture of soap scum, sticky hair styling products, thick shaving foam and hair that build up on the drain walls and cause the drain to become partially clogged, slowing the ability for water to drain away. So, what can be done about it?
Should I worry about a slow drain?
While it’s not the end of the world, it won’t cause immediate damage to your home and the water will eventually drain away, a slow drain is still a problem that needs to be fixed.
A drain that is slow to empty will mean there is already a clog in the system and, over time, one that will only get worse. Eventually, the clog will get to the point where the water can no longer drain away and, in a worst-case scenario, the clog can be pushed deeper into the plumbing system, which makes it harder to unclog and repair.
Our advice is to get the drain fixed sooner rather than later and avoid the potential for costly repairs down the track.
Can I fix it myself?
The good news is that you can take certain actions to try to fix the issue of a slow draining drain. Your first instinct might be to reach for some of the hardcore drain cleaners that promise an instant fix and an immediately opened drain, but these caustic chemicals can be dangerous to use, and can irritate or harm your skin, eyes and even the pipes.
We recommend avoiding all chemicals and focusing on the following simple, healthy fixes instead:
- Remove and clean the stopper or pop-up. The metal device used to plug the sink can catch hair and other debris over time, which will build up and lead to a slow sink drain. You can often simply remove or unscrew the stopper and use a cloth to clean it of any material build-up.
- Melting the sludge with a homemade drain cleaner. While the stopper is unscrewed, pour a half cup of baking soda into the clogged drain, immediately followed by a half-cup of white vinegar. After 15 minutes, rinse with a jug of boiling water and run the hot water tap for a few minutes more.
- Lift out any built-up debris. A small hair clog tool, such as a Zip-It tool, can be great for inserting down the drain, then wiggling around and lifting out to pull any unwanted material from the drain.
- Use a plunger. Another option is to use a plunger when you have a major drain stoppage. Cover the sink overflow with a rag to create a seal and then plunge away to loosen and dislodge any hair or debris.
- Time to bring in the snake. If none of these options work, then it might be time to use a drain auger, otherwise known as a drain snake, to try to clear the blockage. By placing the tip of the snake into the sink drain, you can feed the auger further into the pipe and intermittently retract the tool to give it a clean. When you hit the problem blockage, turn the auger’s handle and wiggle the tool from side to side to try to catch the clog. You can then remove it, hopefully with the drain’s clog attached, then flush the sink with hot water to give it a good clean.
When do I need to call a plumber?
When simple methods don’t appear to be working, you’re not comfortable with trying to fix the slow drain yourself, or you’re worried about pushing the clog deeper into the drain, then it’s time to call in a professional to help remedy the problem.
When looking at how much it will cost to call out a plumber to your house, a typical fee from a reputable plumbing professional will be in the region of $50 to carry out a home plumbing repair diagnostic in the local Vancouver, BC area.
With this type of service, a plumber will come to you house and diagnose the problem and present you with solutions on what to do next. They will generally be at your house for 30 minutes and there should be no service call or dispatch fees.
To identify plumbers near you, look for professionals that serve the Metro Vancouver surrounding area, including areas from Burnaby to Langley, New Westminster to White Rock. Ashton services the entire Lower Mainland and can help with your HVAC or plumbing service needs, including fixing slow drains.