If you have indoor plumbing in your Boston home, chances are excellent that at some point, you’ll also have a clogged bathroom sink drain. Having cleared hundreds of them, I can say that there’s nothing particularly interesting about a clogged drain. Occasionally, an object makes its way down the drain and gets stuck, usually in the trap, but most clogs that stop a bathroom sink are a mixture of hair, soap and biological materials that accumulate in the drain pipes.
Drains slowly close over time, but a little drain maintenance will go a long way toward eliminating the buildup of materials that will eventually close your drain pipe.
First, make sure your sink stopper is in working condition. The sink stopper will prevent objects from being washed down the drain. Stoppers are standard equipment, and replacements can be purchased at any home hardware store.
Bathroom sinks actually take a lot of abuse. Because of their proximity to the mirror, a household member may shave or trim facial hair in or near the sink, and most family members will comb their hair while looking in the bathroom mirror. These actions give plenty of opportunity for hair (a primary component of drain clogs) to accumulate in the sink. When the sink is dry, try removing any hair in the bowl or on the counter with a dry cloth. If you have the vacuum handy and the sink is dry, you can also vacuum hair out of your sink or tub. (This trick won’t work when the sink is wet.)
Soap residue also accumulates in the drainpipes, adding the second major component of bathroom drain clogs. Soap tends to reconstitute in drains, so limiting the amount of soap, using liquid soaps and flushing the drain after washing your hands will help reduce soap build-up in your pipes.
The third major component of drain clogs in the bathroom sink is the mass (mess?) that is produced when biological agents grow within the drain. These agents may include bacterias and molds that can thrive in the drain. The waste products from these agents create mess and unpleasant odors as they foul the drain. Over time, their growth rate increases and a clog quickly ensues.
How do you get rid of a clog? Our first recommendation is that you attempt to clear the clog manually. A small drain snake may clear the obstruction, but you also run the risk of simply moving the clog farther into the drain. If you can’t (or don’t want to) manually clear the clog, you can use additives that will break up the clog and clear the drain. Unfortunately, most drain cleaners are quite hard on the plumbing and worse, they’re not very effective on the clogs.
Chemicals that will break up clogs have the unfortunate tendency to corrode metal pipes. They also create a lot of heat while they work, and the build-up of gases related to these chemical processes can cause caustic drain cleaners to shoot back up out of the drain and into the sink. The potential for acidic splash injuries is real here, so we don’t recommend using caustic drain cleaning agents like lye.
So how can you get rid of a clog if manual clearing isn’t an option? We recommend Bio-Clean, a natural, enzymatic drain cleaning product that eats away at the blockage. The enzymes in Bio-Clean are safe and won’t irritate your skin if it makes contact. They’ll clear out the biological material that has accumulated in the drain without reacting with the metal in your plumbing system. Better still, Bio-Clean is non-hazardous in water so it won’t contaminate wastewater or pose a long-term human health hazard like caustic drain cleaners can. It’s also safe for use in kitchen sinks, RV drains and septic tanks.
Boston Standard Plumbing uses and recommends BioClean for safe, sanitary and environmentally friendly drain cleaning. If you would like to try BioClean in your household drains, contact Boston Standard Plumbing at (617) 288-2911.