5 Things to Do if Drano Doesn’t Work

Why Won’t My Sink Drain After Drano?

Drano is one of the most popular chemical drain cleaners in the market. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work and as a matter of fact plumbers do not recommend using it for these reasons.

Drano works through a series of chemical reactions which releases enough heat to break down the clog. Check out more on that in this post.

standing-water-in-a-sink

What you may not know is that Drano can actually make a clog worse. After the initial decomposition of the clog into a solution, it can afterwards solidify farther down in the drain line to form an even worse clog.

So, what do you do if Drano doesn’t work? Well, there are actually a couple of things you can do to clear the clog.

If Drano doesn’t work, start by draining the standing water in the sink, bathtub or shower then pour a cup of baking soda followed by another cup of vinegar and after 15 minutes flush the drain with boiling water.  You can also plunge or snake the drain, or even remove and clean the P-trap.

SC Johnson, the company that manufactures Drano recommends using more Drano if the initial amount poured doesn’t work. However, Roger Wakefield, a master plumber from Texas highly advises against it due to its effect on your plumbing.

The reason your sink won’t Drano after using Drano is because Drano cannot clear all clogs. It works for light organic clogs but is no match for severe clogs. Drano could actually make the clog worse.

To know if Drano is working, you should start seeing the standing water in the sink, tub or shower draining even if just slowly. If you still have standing water after 30 minutes, it is a clear sign that Drano is not working.

It should take Drano 15 minutes to clear light clogs or up to 30 minutes for tough clogs. If you have therefore been waiting for more than 30 minutes and the clog has not cleared, Drano is clearly not working for you.

The recommended amount of Drano to use is half a 32-ounce-sized bottle for light clogs or the full bottles for tough clogs. SC Johnson further recommends using such amounts again if the clog fails to clear.

You can get away with using Drano once but using it twice in a row or every time you have a clog puts your plumbing at risk. Drano weakens steel pipes, softens PVC pipes and also eats away the glue that binds pipes together.

What to Do if Drano Doesn’t Work

Of course it is not the end of the road for you if Drano fails to work. And it doesn’t mean you have to call a plumber at that point.

There are still a few DIY methods you can do to clear the clog. Here are some of the ways to clear a clog if Drano doesn’t work:

1. Use Baking Soda, Vinegar and Boiling Water

baking-soda-and-vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar have been used together to successfully unclog drains for many years. Apart from that, they are fantastic cleaning agents.

Baking soda is an alkali while vinegar is a weak acid. When the 2 substances are mixed together, a fizzing reaction takes place. It is this reaction that breaks up the clog.

While the reaction between baking soda and vinegar is what breaks up the clog, boiling water speeds up the process and even melts the clog further.

Sometimes boiling water alone is enough to clear drain clogs especially in kitchen sink, bathroom sinks and bathtub/shower drains.

Needless to say, the majority of the clogs in these drains are caused by hair, oils, grease, shampoo and basically other organic waste coalesced together. Boiling water will melt the ball of clog and effectively clear the drain.

The baking soda, vinegar and boiling water combination however works just so well. Here is how to do it.

  • Start by draining the standing water. You want the combination to work directly on the clog. You will therefore need to drain the water by either scooping it with a cup and emptying it in a bucket or sucking it up with vac. Sometimes the vac can end up unclogging the drain.

Note! Be careful since the water has Drano in it and could burn your skin or irritate your eyes when it comes into contact. Also, avoid using other chemical drain cleaners since a reaction will take place between it and Drano resulting in toxic fumes which could damage your lungs when inhaled.

  • Pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain.
  • Follow it up with another cup of vinegar.
  • Wait for about 15 minutes or even longer for the solution to work out its magic. Meanwhile, start heating 1 gallon or more of water.
  • Dump the boiling water in the drain and check what happens.

In most of the cases, the fixture will initially drain slowly but after the water has melted the majority of the clog the water will drain out faster.

Tip! Make it a habit of pouring boiling water down your drains every now and then. That simple act prevents clogs from forming in your drains. Also, clean the drains using baking soda and vinegar once every 2 weeks. Do not however pour boiling water in a toilet lest it cracks.

2. Plunge the Drain

plunging

A plunger is a simple tool but it will clear drain clogs most of the time when used correctly. But how do you plunge effectively?

Effective plunging starts with the selection of a plunger. There are 2 main types of plungers. The first one is the flat-bottomed or cup plunger which is used to unclog sinks, tubs, showers and other such drains.

There is then the flange plunger which is bell-shaped and purposely designed to unclog toilets. Choose your plunger depending on where the clog is.

Whenever plunging a sink or bathtub, remember that they have an overflow drain which is connected to the main drain line. You should therefore start by sealing off the overflow drain.

If you have 2 plungers you can use one to seal the overflow but you can also use a piece of rag. Failure to do that will have the pressure generated by the plunger escaping through the overflow instead of pushing the clog.

To plunge successfully, also make sure you have some water inside the fixture you are unclogging. The bottom of the plunger needs to be immersed in the water to create a tight seal.

Start by plunging gently in order to avoid splashing water and to also engage the plunger on the drain opening. After the first 5 plunges, start plunging aggressively for a few minutes.

Lift off the plunge and check if the water will start to drain out on its own which is a sign that the clog has cleared. If not, plunge some more.

3. Snake the Drain

If you are dealing with a clogged toilet, you will need to select a toilet auger which is specially designed to unclog toilets. You however need to be careful not to scratch the bowl or damage the pipes.

Note! You should never use Drano to unclog toilets. The heat produced during the chemical reactions is enough to crack the toilet bowl.

If you are unclogging a sink, bathtub or shower drain, you do not even need to use the usual plumber’s snake. There is a special plastic snake called a drain hair removal tool or zip-it tool (Amazon) which is very effective in removing hair clogs from drains.

You may want to first remove the shower drain cover or tub stopper in order to gain access to the drain line. The same also goes for bathroom sink stoppers.

To use this tool you will only need to stick it inside the drain line, twist it and then pull it out. You will repeat that several times until you have pulled out most of the hair.

I will however want to warn you that the hair pulled from a clogged drain will gross you out so be ready for it.

After cleaning the drain with the tool, blast hot water down the drain to flush out any strand of hair that is still clinging on the pipes.

Tip! If you do not have a snake, a wire coat hanger will come in handy. Just straighten and make a hook on one end. Use the hook to fish out the gunk from the drain line.

3. Remove and Clean the P-trap

If you are dealing with a clogged bathroom or kitchen sink, there is one thing you can do that is almost guaranteed to fix the problem.

That thing is removing and cleaning the drain trap also known as a P-trap. A P-trap is the U-bend under your sink.

A P-trap’s job is to hold water at all times, thereby preventing sewer gases from coming up in the house, and to also trap clogs preventing them from clogging the drain line further away.

p-trap

Most of the times when you have a clogged sink, the clog is usually inside the P-trap. Removing and cleaning the P-trap is easy and will fix the problem for you. This is how to do it:

  • Place a pan or bucket under the P-trap. You do not want the water in the P-trap to spill on your floor.
  • Disconnect the P-trap. Plastic traps can be disconnected by hand while metallic ones will need a wrench.
  • Clean the P-trap using warm soapy water to remove the entire gunk inside it.
  • Do not forget to also inspect and clean the pipe heading out through the wall and also the tail-piece connecting the P-trap to the sink drain opening.
  • Once the trap is clean, connect it back and blast the line with hot water to flush out any other solids and to also make sure the P-trap is not leaking.

5. Call a Plumber

When you have tried everything but the clog won’t just budge, it is time to call a professional plumber.

Plumbers have the tools and the expertise to clear drains and have seen worse clogs than the one you have. Needless to say, plumbers are not cheap but sometimes you have to pay for professional help.

And basically that is what if Drano does not work. I hope you found great value in this post.

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