Does Boiling Water Unblock Drains
A clogged drain can be smelly and it can stop you from being able to use the sink, bath, or shower that is affected. If it is only the one drain that is blocked, then this can be something you can try to tackle on your own (if lots of drains are affected, this suggests that there’s a problem somewhere underground so will need a professional). You might have heard that one simple solution is to pour boiling water down the drain to unclog it. But does this really work? The answer is sort of. Let’s have a closer look.
The boiling water trick
In the kitchen sink, most clogs are caused by a build-up of fats, oils, and grease (FOG). When you are cooking with these ingredients they are liquid but if you then pour them down the drain, they start to cool down and solidify. Over time, this accumulated gunk can start to clog the drain and stop the water from flowing.
In the bathroom drains, such as the shower drain or the bathroom sink, the most common culprit is an accumulation of hair and soap scum. These materials stick together to form a clump that can lead to a clogged drain.
The reasoning behind using boiling water to deal with a clogged sink or clean a drain is that it will turn fats, oils, and grease back into liquids which will allow them to flow down the drain and out into the water system.
This can work with smaller kitchen sink clogged drains, but you should try it with some caution. If you have PVC pipes, then boiling water from your kettle will be hot enough to soften the joints and maybe even melt them.
Boiling water could also help to loosen the soap scum in your bathroom sinks or shower to help pull the clog apart, but it probably won’t be as effective as it is with kitchen sink clogs.
What other clogged drain methods are there?
If you dont want to use a professional blocked drains specialist and you’ve given boiling water a try and it hasn’t worked, or you have discovered that it’s unsuitable for you because you have PVC pipes, there are other methods that you can try.
Baking soda and vinegar
Baking soda and vinegar are the go-to ingredients for homemade cleaning products. Baking soda is an alkali and vinegar is an acid. When they are mixed together, a bubbling chemical reaction occurs.
Mixing baking soda and vinegar with some hot water and pouring it down your drain pipes means that the chemical reaction will interact with the clog. This can help to break it up into smaller pieces which will flush through the drains.
Remember to cover the drain after you have poured the solution down it and leave it for around 10 minutes. You may need to repeat the process a few times.
Chemical drain cleaners
If the baking soda and vinegar method hasn’t worked to unclog a drain, then it might be time to move on to something stronger. Chemical drain unblockers use chemicals that will react with the clog and generate heat. This heat will liquefy the soap or grease, allowing it to flow through the plumbing system. They are also heavier than water, which can help to push the debris down.
As with the homemade method, you will often need to block up the drain and leave the mixture to do its thing for a while, and the time can vary depending on which cleaner you are using. You shouldn’t use these too often as the harsh chemicals can damage PVC pipes and other plumbing fixtures. If you are having very frequent blockages, then there might be something going on that needs a professional eye.
Sometimes the old-fashioned methods really are the best. When you affix a plunger over a drain and push it down, you create water pressure in the pipes. The pressure pushes water downwards away from the drain and when you pull back up the pressure releases and the water can rise again.
This can physically dislodge the clog that is causing you plumbing issues and, coupled with the baking soda and vinegar or chemical cleaner method, can be a very effective way to unclog drains.
If none of these methods has worked, a drain snake, also known as a plumber’s snake, can work wonders. A drain snake attaches to a drill via a crank and is made of long metal coils that can fit down a plughole. These types of heavy duty methods are often what is used to unclog sewers.
You feed the ends of the metal coils into the drain and then turn on the drill. As it turns, the corkscrew coils can physically break up the clog into smaller pieces that can then flow away easily or be brought back up with the augur.
Once the clog has been broken up, flushing some hot water through the drainpipe will help to make sure that all of the debris has been washed away.
Preventing a clogged drain
Once you have shifted the clog and your drain has started working as normal again, it is a good idea to take some steps to stop it from happening again.
In the kitchen, you should be careful about what materials you put down your kitchen sink. Common causes of blocked drains can happen if you are cooking with fats, grease, and oils, these shouldn’t be poured down the sink. Instead, use a paper towel to blot the pan after you have finished cooking and place these in the bin. Make sure to scrape any food particles off your plate before you wash them up.
In the bathroom, a hair catcher in the plughole can stop hair from going into the drain pipe. This is a cheap, easy, and effective way of stopping the clumps from forming in the first place.
The bottom line
A clogged drain can be unpleasant to deal with but there are steps you can take to unclog a drain effectively. So will boiling water unclog a drain? Sometimes. If it is a small clog, it might. If the clog is larger, it can be a good idea to bring in some stronger methods.