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Almost everyone has had the unpleasant occurrence of finding a clogged drain in their home. There are many ways to unclog a drain today and a multitude of new products seem to hit the market daily. If you are stuck with a clogged drain, these tips will help you unravel the problem with a minimum of stress.

Preventative maintenance is very important to keep drains running freely and smell free. Treating your drains weekly to 2 tablespoons of baking soda and boiling water is a good preventative measure. Try to keep drains free of grease, vegetable matter and hair. These are not only clogging materials, they can also create unpleasant odors. You can also use 1 cup of vinegar in your drains weekly. Allow to stand for about 30 minutes and then run a steady stream of hot water into the drain. It is also wise as a preventative measure to clean your drains with a chemical clean about once a month. Try to find one that cuts grease and build up for the best results. As with any chemical cleaner you should be very careful not to allow it to come into contact with your skin.

If all else fails and you are still stuck with a totally clogged drain, begin clearing it by using a plunger. Be sure when using a plunger that you remove the stopper or strainer. On bath tubs, the strainer can be popped out with a flat head screw driver. Some basins will have a nut underneath that retains the ball joint and pull control. If the tub or sink has an overflow you will need to block it with a cloth. This prevents air from being drawn back in as you plunge the drain. It is also wise when using a plunger to have enough water in the sink or tub to cover the rubber cup of the plunger. Simply angle the cup in to release trapped air and place it over the drain. To create a surge in the water inside the drain pump it up and down quickly about ten times. With the final up stroke lift the plunger from the water rapidly. If this doesn't clear the drain continue using the plunger. When the water rushes out, you have cleared the clog. Continue running water into the tub, sink or basin until you are sure the clog will not reoccur.

In a case where the plunger does not unclog the drain you will need to have a bucket to place beneath the gooseneck trap which can be found under your sink or basin. Using a wrench, unscrew the clean out plug on the bottom of the plug and allow the water to run out. You can then use a bent wire or your hand to clear the drain and then simply reattach the plug. When you do not find a clean out plug remove the entire trap by unscrewing the higher coupling nut with a pipe wrench. Support the trap with your hand and remove the lower coupling nut. Clean out the drain and replace your trap. Be sure you don't over tighten the nuts when doing this. Also, if you are concerned about scratching the chrome, you can wrap the jaws of your wrench with tape for protection.

When the clog is out of reach or you cannot get to the clean out areas, as is the case in a bath tub, you can use a snake. This is a thin wire with a coiled spring on the end that can be rented at most rental centers. To use a snake rotate the end into the drain. Then crank the handle clockwise while alternating a pulling and pushing motion. Work it through the trap until it has gone through the stoppage. You will feel a kind of mushy resistance when you have reached the clog. If the clog is not in the trap, continue working the snake into the drain pipe and through the clean out. If you have removed the clean out run the snake directly into the pipe until you find the clog. If you can't find the clog with a snake, you will need to call a plumber. Blockages in a main drain pipe will need specialized attention.