You’ve likely heard that pouring a baking soda and vinegar solution down your clogged drain can break up the blockage. When the chemical bubbling reaction occurs, the pressure will push down debris and clear the drain. In reality, this do-it-yourself tip isn’t supported by substantial evidence. Combining these substances in your pipes can even cause damage in some cases. Here’s why you should avoid using baking soda and vinegar in your home’s drains.

Not a Strong Enough Solution

When you use vinegar and baking soda, you’re relying on their chemical reaction to create a fizzing foam. Theoretically, the resulting gas can loosen up small blockages within the pipes, making it easier for them to pass. The mixture isn’t strong enough to tackle larger clogs that have formed over time. Additionally, it’s often hard to find where the clog is located along your lines. If it’s too far from the vinegar and baking soda solution, it likely won’t be effective. This mixture is not a consistently reliable way to clear your drains.

May Create a Mess

When you combine these substances, they create a rapidly expanding foam that can fill your sink and splash onto your counters. This mess can become even more of a struggle if you’re already dealing with a clogged sink full of dirty water. Avoid adding more baking soda or vinegar to the mix if you’re not satisfied with the size of the reaction. The mess can quickly grow out of your control and cause damage to your nearby appliances, counters and cabinets.

Could Damage Your Pipes

Mixing vinegar and baking soda creates carbon dioxide. This gas isn’t harmful to your health in minimal doses. However, it can build up in your plumbing over time and put unnecessary strain on your pipes. The constant pressure may result in structural cracks or water leaks, especially if your property has older pipes. The vinegar itself can also be harmful due to its high acidity level. It’s particularly harmful to plumbing lines made of metals like brass and copper. Internal pipe damage increases the risk of issues like pinpoint holes and sudden bursting.

More Effective Drain Cleaning Solutions

Thankfully, there are several other more effective ways for you to unblock your drains. These can vary from manually utilizing a cup plunger to investing in a handheld snake or auger. It’s generally not recommended to use any chemical solutions that may damage the lining of your pipes. If you run into a significant drain blockage that won’t budge, you can always call in an expert plumber for help.

Use a Plunger

If your clogged sink is full of water, try to remove most of the liquid before you begin. Grab your cup plunger, which is a simple tool with a flat rim, and place it over your drain. There should be just enough water to cover its head. Keep it sealed against the drain and vigorously plunge several times to dislodge the blockage. Once the clog has been removed, you should notice the lingering water draining away.

Check Garbage Disposal

Kitchen sink clogs are often attributed to malfunctions with the garbage disposal. It may be full of old food or refuse to grind due to a mechanical or wiring issue. You can first try turning on the system, which may help break up any blockage within the disposal. If it refuses to run, it may have overheated. Flip the reset switch along its side or bottom before trying again. Constant garbage disposal concerns may mean you need professional help to find the root of the problem.

Pour Boiling Water

Before you attempt to pour hot water down your drain, it’s important to note that this method is not recommended for PVC pipes. These are a type of thick plastic piping that’s highly susceptible to melting. This do-it-yourself hack requires you to pour about half a gallon of boiling water into your sink drain. Ideally, the heat will melt away any accumulated grease or fat sticking to the sides of the pipes. If it doesn’t work the first time, you can wait until your sink cools to try again.

Grab an Auger

An auger, or plumbing snake, is a flexible wire tool that you can feed into your pipe. It’s made of a long coiled wire with a handle for easy usage. As you push this wire into your drain, you should feel when it connects to a solid blockage. You’ll then turn the crank until it burrows through, effectively capturing it for easy removal. While these tools are widely available at home improvement stores, they can be intimidating to use for the first time. Fortunately, you can always call in a plumber who will have no problem expertly locating and removing the blockage.

Call a Professional

Not every plumbing clog can be removed with do-it-yourself tricks. Depending on the size and location of the blockage, you may be unable to remove it without expert guidance. Fortunately, trained plumbers have the tools, experience and skills to protect your plumbing without causing damage or unnecessary messes. Rather than risk wasting your time or money, you can trust a professional to get the job done quickly and correctly. An experienced plumber will also be able to let you know if there are other concerns within your pipes like fracture leaks or loose connections.

Tips to Avoid Drain Blockages

Limit your chances of grappling with a drain clog by adhering to healthy septic habits. Don’t allow fats, grease or oils into your sinks. While these substances may seem innocent enough in liquid form, they can quickly harden and coat your plumbing lines. You’ll also want to avoid overloading your garbage disposal with excessive food. Feed it small amounts of food scraps at a time, and never try to shred any inorganic matter like wrappers or paper towels.

Don’t forget to take advantage of beneficial preventative plumbing services like yearly drain cleanings and inspections. This helpful care will stop blockages from forming and protect your home from foul sewage odors and drain pests. Annual check-ups are a great way to prevent major plumbing issues like burst pipes, leaks, and water waste.

Your Dependable Knoxville Plumbing Company

Tennessee Standard Plumbing is a locally owned plumbing business that’s deeply committed to delivering superior customer service in Knoxville, TN. We have five generations of plumbing experience and strive to provide punctuality, professionalism and fair pricing. We’ve earned countless five-star reviews thanks to our top-notch industry knowledge and reputable products. Look to our team for reliable septic services like sewer line repair, backflow prevention and hydro jetting. We can also take care of your garbage disposal, gas lines, fixtures and water heaters. All of our repair and installation services are backed by superior satisfaction and quality guarantees. You can also check out our monthly money-saving service specials. Schedule your drain cleaning or repair with the professionals at Tennessee Standard Plumbing today.

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