In attempting to clear a stopped-up line, use a device called the "plumber's friend." This is a piece of equipment that no home mechanic should be without. It consists of a rubber, bell-shaped cup on the end of a long wood handle. To use this plunger, partially fill the fixture with water and place the rubber cup over the drain opening.
Work the plunger up and down, and the resulting alternate compression and suction will generally dislodge any object caught in the drain. If there is no water in the fixture, the plunger will not work, because water must be present to make an airtight seal around the drain.
Be sure to give the " plumber 's friend" a fair chance before you resort to some other method of trying to clear a drain. Once the drain is clean, flush hot water through it to clear it completely.
If the drain cannot be cleared with the rubber plunger, it may be possible to get rid of the obstruction by removing the clean-out plug at the bottom of the trap and using a piece of wire to push the obstruction out or pull it back through the opening. Place a pail under the trap to prevent the water that is in the trap from splashing the floor.
Once the plug is out, try to dislodge the obstruction in the pipe with a piece of stiff wire. If this method fails to do any good, you can remove the entire trap by unscrewing the slip nuts located at the top and bottom connections of the trap.
When these two nuts have been loosened and moved out of the way, take off the trap and push out the obstructions. While the trap is off, clean it thoroughly inside with a stiff brush and hot water.
Clearing beyond rap
If the object blocking the pipe is beyond the trap, use a steel spring auger. This resembles a snake in that it is flexible and can be inserted in the pipe.
The auger can be rotated, and this action will either break up whatever is clogging the pipes, or the auger bit will pierce the obstacle so that it can be pulled out of the pipe.
Before replacing the clean-out plug of the trap, examine the washer to be sure it has not been damaged. Any leakage around this plug will cause the trap to run dry.
Chemical drain cleaners can be used to clear a pipe when it is impossible to get at the obstruction with a plunger or a steel spring auger. The best chemical for this work is caustic potash, but it is very strong and should be used with a great deal of caution.
Remove as much water as possible from the fixture and the drain so that the chemical will not be diluted-Mix the caustic potash, according to the directions on the container, with hot water. Be very careful not to let any of this solution touch any part of the body, particularly the eyes. To avoid damaging metal fixtures, pour the solution into the drain through a funnel. Do not expect any immediate effect from a chemical drain cleaner.
The chemical must burn through whatever has clogged up the pipe, and this action may require several hours at least. Do not pour any water down the drain until the chemical has had ample time to work. After sufficient time has elapsed, say overnight, flush the drain with boiling water.
When caustic potash comes in contact with grease, it converts the grease into a substance soluble in water. Some types of drain cleaners contain caustic soda, but this chemical turns grease into hard matter that cannot be easily removed. Chemical cleaners should be used only in the drainage system—never in any fresh water supply lines. Gasoline and coffee grounds should not be used as drain cleaners. They will not do any good, and gasoline in a drain may cause an explosion if the fumes are accidentally ignited.
Clogged toilet traps
The construction of the modern toilet bowl makes it very difficult to remove any object caught in the trap, particularly since the object is .usually large or made of metal.
To clean the trap, try first the "plumber's friend." If this fails, work a piece of stiff wire into the trap and attempt to dislodge the obstruction so that it can be pulled or pushed through. A steel spring auger is a very effective means of clearing toilet traps, particularly when there are two persons present, one to turn the auger while the other guides it down into the trap.
Floor drains such as are used in basements and garages to drain off water very often become clogged up with various refuse which is almost bound to get past the strainer over the pipe opening. These drains should be kept as clean as possible because once they are blocked up and the water floods the floor, cleaning them out is a messy proposition.
In most cases the strainer over the drain opening is attached to the drain flange with screws, but in many cases these screws or the edge of the strainer may be covered with cement from the surrounding floor. This cement will have to be chipped away with a cold chisel or an old screwdriver before the strainer can be taken off.
Once the strainer is out of the way, the drain can usually be partially cleaned with the aid of a long handled ladle or large cooking spoon. Dig out as much of the dirt and refuse as possible with the spoon and then use a steel auger or a piece of heavy wire to clear any obstructions in the pipe.
Floor drains connected into the house sewer system will be provided with some sort of trap. Once the drain is open, use hot water to flush it clean, probing with the wire to loosen up any dirt that might be sticking to the sides of the pipe. Soften grease with caustic potash.
If the strainer over the drain has rather large openings, it might be worth while to cover it with a piece of wire netting before it is replaced in order to prevent large particles of dirt and other matter getting through.