Unclog Drains Yourself

You can learn how to unclog drains yourself. In this Do it yourself plumbing article you’ll learn how to unclog a sewer, unclog a floor drain or unclog a washer drain yourself. The following will be some techniques that the professionals at Advocate Master Plumbing have been using for over 25 years that you can try to unclog drains yourself. If you find you need a professional feel free to look at our drain cleaning service page and give us a call.

Unclog sewer drains

When advising customers about sewer issues, there are a few do’s and don’ts when telling them how to unclog drains. Don’t rent a sewer drain cleaning machine yourself. It costs almost as much to rent a machine as it costs to have a professional do it. Leave it to them. The machines are dangerous, cumbersome and dirty. And there are many ways to get the cable stuck in your sewer. We know the tricks to getting it in and out without a problem and can then diagnose the sewer by feel. Do use a drain cleaning water bladder to temporarily unclog drains.


The correct size is 3 to 4 inch. I like the GT Water Products Drain King. It is used only for sewers because of it’s size. You attach it to a garden hose and then insert it into your sewer at a point that has no other drain connections attached. This is very important. When you turn the water on this bladder will swell and seal itself to the inside of the drain. Then it will pressurize your sewer with water and hopefully blow the blockage out. If there’s a floor drain or a toilet connection beyond the point of insertion, water will start bubbling up from these fixtures. Only do this if you’re sure there is no possibility of that happening. And remember, this isn’t fixing the drain clog. It’s only allowing you some time before hiring a professional. Don’t do this if you’re unsure of what you’re doing.

Don’t put chemicals in your sewer. Enzyme treatments such as Bioclean work great. Acids hurt more than they will ever help. They will eat through metal and get completely diluted if you’re sewer is holding water. Save your money. As soon as you can afford it, call a professional.

Get a floor drain flowing

Floor drains are a little easier…usually. First lets look at the anatomy of your standard floor drain. The circled item in the picture below is called a floor drain clean out. This isn’t the drain. It’s an access point for plumbers to unclog the pipe to which the floor drain is attached rather than trying to make their cables make the turn through the trap way. The hole in the bottom is the drain. It should always have water in it to prevent sewer gases from entering your home. The trap way under is usually the point of your clog.


The first thing to do is remove the clean out plug. If it’s metal you’ll usually need a hammer and chisel. Replace it with a 1-1/2 expansion plug from your local hardware store if you damage it.

If the water drains out when you remove the clean out it means the trap way is clogged. Get a long screwdriver, wet vacuum and a pale of water. We’re gonna’ unclog a drain.

Wiggle the screwdriver around in the drain portion of your floor drain to loosen the sand and other debris that builds up. then vacuum it out. Do this a few times until you feel it will drain. Put the clean out back in and try pouring water down the drain slowly. If it’s still clogged repeat the process until it drains. Once it does drain fill your bucket with lots of water, hold the pale up as high as you can and pour the water into the exact center of the drain. This will blow the last of the debris out.

If this is unsuccessful, use a 1-1/2 to 2 inch water bladder in the trap to unclog the drain. If the floor drain doesn’t empty when you remove the clean out, use a water bladder sized for 1-1/2 to 2 inch pipe. Follow the instructions for unclogging sewers. If this works, I always advise attaching a hose to your hot side washer hook up and running lots of hot water through the drain to heat the pipe and flush out grease and scum build up.

Unclog Washer Drains

If the clog is in the washer drain only and not backing up when you run any other fixture, then refer back to the floor drain unclogging section with the water bladder. After you get it flowing, flush it out with lots of hot water.

I hope these tips have been useful. Remember that when learning how to unclog drains yourself that you have to see the whole plumbing picture. When in doubt, just give Advocate Master Plumbing a call!