To use the plumber’s friend to fix a clogged pipe, run some water into the sink, enough to cover the rubber cup. Smear petroleum jelly on the lower edge of the cup and place it down squarely over the drain. Tip it as you go under the water to remove as much air as possible to fix the clogged pipe.
Then work the plunger up and down vigorously 10 or 20 times. At the end of each plunging cycle, pull the plunger sharply up off the drain. This puts tremendous back pressure on a clogged pipe, which often breaks it up where ordinary plunging could not.
If the drain is still clogged, try again. If waste water is sucked back into the sink, remove paper, hair and other solid material that may come with it. Keep the sink’s strainer clean. Don’t give up easily. Repeat the plunging operation 8 to 10 times if necessary. Often it takes some time for plunging to be effective. You can follow successful plunging with the use of a chemical drain cleaner to try to get rid of anything remaining of the clogged pipe. It may help to run hot water down the drain for a few minutes to melt and wash out collected grease.
If plunging won’t start even a slow waste runoff through a drain, the next step is to remove the drain plug from the trap beneath the sink. If the sink drain is one of those built without a drain cleaning plug, you’ll have to remove the trap instead.
Either way, all the waste water above the trap will run out as soon as you open it. Put a pail under the trap to catch this. If the sink is full, it can overflow a pail, so best bet is to bail some of it out first. If any drain cleaning chemicals have been added to the waste water, remember that they’ll be in the water flowing out of the trap. Wear rubber gloves, goggles and be careful of splashes. If you get any on your skin, rinse immediately in clear water.
If the clogged pipe is being caused by the trap itself, it’s easy to remove. Make a small cleaning tool out of a coat hanger wire with a hook shaped end and clean the trap thoroughly.
If the stoppage is father along the drain beyond the trap, you can use plumber tools to fix this. The handiest are self contained. When you’ve cleared the clogged pipe, pull the tool back out. Replace the sink trap plug or put the trap back together and pour boiling water into the sink. If the runoff is slow, add a chemical drain cleaner. If the water backs up and there is still no runoff, the clog is likely past the limit of the tools reach.
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If there isn’t enough room to use something stiff, a garden hose may do the job. The garden hose has the advantage of being able to supply hydrostatic pressure against the clogged pipe. Pack some rags around where the hose enters the drain, and then have someone turn on the water while you hold the rags tightly in place to prevent most leakage. This method is particularly effective when the blockage is due to sand often found in the drains of seashore homes. Once removed, let the hose run a while to flush the clog down and out.