61°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

Drain clog can leave you with sinking feeling

Q: Many of the drains in my house are backed up. I have tried plunging the toilet and clearing the drain trap in the sink, but I can’t get it to drain. My neighbor has a cable drain machine with several attachments included, but I’ve never used a device like that. Can you give me the details?

A: Clearing a drain requires a little investigative work and the right tools. If only one sink or toilet is clogged, the problem would obviously be isolated to that single fixture. Since you have multiple backups, your problem is going to be deeper – specifically, in a large waste line. The larger line handles multiple drains as they branch off of it.

If the obstruction is lodged in a pipe, you can either grab it and pull it out, push it through or grind it up. Pulling it out can be done with a corkscrew attachment.

If the obstruction is a tree root, you will have to use a cutting head.

If it is a grease clog, you will need to call in a plumber with a water jet as the grease will close up behind any cable you insert and still leave you with a clogged drain.

You must be ready for personal hazards. Wear heavy gloves to hold and guide the cable into the drain (and to protect yourself). I have heard of workers who cut their hands and become sick from bacteria.

Also, as you are chewing through an obstruction, the cable may snap. If you think you had problems with just a backed-up drain, boy, will you have problems if that happens. Not only is the drain still plugged, but your cable is down there with it.

For small fixture drains, tubs and showers, you can use a one-quarter-inch cable. For small floor drains, you can use cable that measures three-eighths of an inch or one-half inch. For tree roots, you must use cable measuring five-eighths of an inch or larger. This will require a heavy-duty machine, and most homeowner machines can’t accommodate this size.

If you’re not scared yet, grab your neighbor’s drain cleaner and head back to your house. You can start by using the corkscrew attachment.

Find the nearest cleanout for the area and remove the cap. If a cleanout isn’t available, then remove the trap from the sink and run the cable down the trap arm. You will find a cleanout outside of the house, around the kitchen sink or under a sink cabinet; generally they are in various areas, depending on the size of the house.

Move the machine within a foot or two of the opening. This is so that, as the cable spins, it won’t whip around or get kinked. A foot pedal will start the machine, and some machines have an automatic feed lever to move the cable forward or in reverse.

Pull the cable out of the machine and feed it into the hole as far as it will go. After that, place the motor in the forward position. Hold the cable with one or both gloved hands, depending on its size.

Then, start the machine by stepping on the foot pedal and advance the cable by hand or by the lever if your machine has the automatic advance feature. Like I said earlier, you may be able to grab the obstruction with the corkscrew and pull it out, but drain machines are effective at cutting up obstructions.

You can switch to either the arrowhead or the “U” shaped cutter. As you run into the obstruction, let the machine do the work. You can move the cable back and forth to chew up the obstruction, and it’s a good idea to run some water down the drain to help wash away the debris as the cutting head does its job.

Remember to watch the slack in the cable between the machine and the drain. If it starts to twist too much, take your foot off of the pedal and rotate the drum in the other direction to relieve the tension. Like I said, if the cable snaps, you’re in deep.

Another method you could try is using kinetic energy in the form of a shock wave. There are various products available that produce good results. One product is essentially a rubber bladder that screws on to the end of your garden hose. Various sizes are made to accommodate drain pipes from an inch to 6 inches.

To use this, screw it onto the end of the hose, place it into the drain as far as it will go and turn on the water (it also comes with an adapter so you can use an indoor faucet, as the threads are different). As water runs through the bladder, it expands to form a tight seal around the inside of the pipe. The bladder then starts to pulsate and shoot jets of water to dislodge the blockage.

Lastly, there is a water ram. Just as the name implies it rams a shock wave down the pipe to break up and dislodge the blockage. This uses a small cartridge as a charging mechanism. You hang on to it with two hands, pull the trigger and the ram forces the shock wave down the length of the pipe. It’s sort of like a tiny jack hammer.

Michael D. Klimek is a licensed contractor and president of Pro Handyman Corp. Questions may be sent by e-mail to: questions@pro-handyman.com. Or, mail to: P.O. Box 96761, Las Vegas, NV 89193. His Web address is: www.pro-handyman.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC
What it's like to skip the lines and fly by helicopter to EDC. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Smith & Wollensky opens at The Venetian
After 18 years, the Smith & Wollensky location on Las Vegas’ south Strip closed in 2017, to be re-born two years later with a rib-cutting — instead of a ribbon-cutting — in The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal)
Colin Cantwell, Creator Of Iconic Star Wars Ships Visits Vegas
Colin Cantwell, who created and designed such "Star Wars" ships as the X-Wing fighter, and Death Star, met fans at Rogue Toys in Las Vegas today. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Beauty & Essex in Las Vegas makes an EDC Wonder Wheel
In honor of the Electric Daisy Carnival, Beauty & Essex at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas makes its Wonder Wheel party-worthy. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Giada talks Vegas Uncork’d
Giada De Laurentiis talks during Aperitivo Hour, a Vegas Uncork'd event, at her Caesars Palace restaurant, Pronto, May 10, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Scenes from Vegas Uncork’d 2019 on the Las Vegas Strip
The 13th edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit brought four days of food, wine, celebrity chefs and parties to town, May 9-12. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Three ingredients Gordon Ramsay can’t live without
Bon Appetit's Andy Baraghani interviews the "Hell's Kitchen" chef during a Vegas Uncork'd event at Caesars Palace, May 11, 2019. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas Uncork’d launches wiith bubbles and a blade
Dozens of chefs representing some of the Strip’s top restaurants gathered Thursday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas to launch the 2019 edition of Vegas Uncork’d by Bon Appetit. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bunky the Clown at the clown convention
Bob "Bunky the Clown" Gretton talks about his life as a clown and the Clown Convention which was in Las Vegas at Texas Station this week. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Frying soft-shell crab at Lola’s in Las Vegas
At Lola’s: A Louisiana Kitchen in Las Vegas, soft-shell crab is breaded and fried and served either as an appetizer, po’boy or platter. Heidi Knapp Rinella/Review-Journal
The Stove in Henderson makes Pecan Pie Pancakes
At The Stove in Henderson, chef/partner Antonio Nunez stacks buttermilk pancakes with pecans and dulce de leche and tops them pie crust crumbs. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vinnie Paul remembered at Count's Vamp'd
The late rocker's favorite table at one of his favorite clubs in Las Vegas. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
4DX movie experience at Red Rock
4DX movie experience during a demo reel at Red Rock. (Christopher Lawrence/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
What To Do On May The 4th
There are plenty of events going on May the 4th this year around Las Vegas. Celebrate Star Wars and Comic Book Day all at once. The Rogue Toys, the 501st, Rebel Legion and Millennium Fandom Bar are all hosting fun events to help celebrate your geek-dom. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Water Sports Introduces New Attraction At Lake Las Vegas
Las Vegas Water Sports will debut its new aqua park attraction at Lake Las Vegas Days this weekend. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Making the Space Invader at Greene St. Kitchen in Las Vegas
Lysa Huerta, pastry cook at Greene St. Kitchen at the Palms in Las Vegas, starts with angel food cake, Fruity Pebbles ice cream and strawberry sorbet to create a space creature engulfed in flashing lights and swirling mists. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Pools
The M, Park MGM and NoMad are just a few great pools in Las Vegas. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jose Andres explains Iberico pork
(Al Mancini/Las Vega Review-Journal)
Inside Life is Beautiful
Craig Asher Nyman explains how Life is Beautiful festival is booked and talks about this year's line-up. (Jason Bracelin/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America Pops Up In Vegas
Tattoo'd America, a new pop-up attraction on the Linq Promenade, had their grand opening Friday. The attraction is dedicate to the culture of tattoos. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Jose Andres gets key to the Strip
Chef Jose Andres was presented with a Key to the Las Vegas Strip and a proclamation declaring April 26 Jose Andres Day in Clark County by County Commissioner Tick Segerblom on Friday. The ceremony took place at his restaurant Bazaar Meat in the SLS Las Vegas. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sadelle’s in Las Vegas makes a grilled cheese with an inverted bagel
Michael Vargas, executive sous chef at Sadelle’s at Bellagio in Las Vegas, inverts an everything bagel and grills it with Swiss, cheddar and Muenster cheeses to make the Inverted Bagel Grilled Cheese. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita
Learn how to make China Poblano's Salt Air Margarita (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures
Kassandra Lopez at Tattoo'd America invites you to have fun and take pictures. (Janna Karel/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Prime rib is carved tableside at Lawry’s The Prime Rib in Las Vegas
Dave Simmons, executive chef of Lawry’s The Prime in Las Vegas, which plans special cuts for National Prime Rib Day, demonstrates the restaurant’s service from rolling tableside carving carts. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Making gluten-free pizza at Good Pie in Las Vegas
Good Pie owner/pizzaiola Vincent Rotolo makes his gluten-free pizza.
Rockabilly fans enjoy Las Vegas weather poolside
Viva Las Vegas Rockabilly Weekender runs Thursday, April 18th through Sunday, April 21st with a huge car show on Saturday featuring The Reverend Horton Heat, The Delta Bombers and The Coasters. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brownie sundae at VegeNation in Las Vegas is completely vegan
Donald Lemperle, chef/owner of VegeNation in Las Vegas and nearby Henderson, NV, makes his sundae with ice cream made with coconut and almond milks, a brownie made with coconut flour and oil and organic sugar and cacao, and fresh fruit. (Heidi Knapp Rinella/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Taste of the Town: Henderson Booze District
Those who like to support local businesses and sample local products will find the best concentration in an unlikely spot: a Henderson industrial park.
Founder of Las Vegas theater talks about a favorite play
Ann Marie Pereth, founder of A Public Fit Theatre Company, speaks to the Review-Journal about which play she would see every day if only given one option. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Shock program rids your pool of yellow algae

If your pool water has gone from clear to yellow, you probably have yellow algae. The pool store will have chemicals to treat the water. When used with super-chlorination, products such as Yellow Out will kill yellow algae.

When accessorizing, start with what you have

Accessories are a simple and inexpensive way to update a room, and there is no long-term commitment. You can change each season, add colors or have fun with a new trend with just a few pieces.

Give your home a fresh coat of paint

The exterior paint on most stucco homes in Southern Nevada is expected to last anywhere from 10 to 15 years before it starts breaking down.

Spray grapevines to control pests

Grapeleaf skeletonizer and grape flea beetle were found in the orchard during the last couple of days. These two pests damage grape leaves but few other plants.

Vegetable gardening goes vertical

In “Vertical Vegetables: Simple Projects That Deliver More Yield in Less Space” (Quarto Publishing Group), the first-time book author Amy Andrychowicz demonstrates how to produce bigger and better fruits and veggies by growing them upward instead of outward in traditional planting beds.

Removing dead fronds doesn’t affect health of sago

Q: The top ring of sago palmfronds died after I transplanted it but remain on the plant. I left this brown ring of fronds around the crown of the plant and it looks like new growth coming from the center is OK. Should I trim off the dead fronds without disturbing the crown or just let them fall off?

Too much matching can lead to boring room

“Match sets of anything are doubtless the work of those who have but little taste. Tis better to have dissimilarity.” — Yoshida Kenko (1284–1350), Japanese author and Buddhist monk