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True Or False – Can Boiling Water Unclog A Drain?

Can boiling water unclog a drain – is this fact or pure myth? Drain clogs are a common plumbing issue most households experience. 

When drain clogs do occur, it can be a harrowing experience. Desperation can be quick set in. Any solution at this point is a ‘good’ one.     

A quick Google search will yield all sorts of fixes. Pouring down a pot of boiling water is one that often shows up in search results. But, is it a good idea?

Recently, DIYers have been suggesting that pouring a pot of boiling water is a good alternative to chemical solutions, like Drano, or LIQUID-PLUMR. 

Let’s be clear – pouring boiling water down the drain is perfectly safe. But only when your pipes are clear. During a clog? It’s more of a hit n’ miss with a lot of risk.    

Below, we explore if boiling water is an effective solution to unclog drains. We will also look at other techniques you can try at home to unclog your drain.

Boiling Water Myth

At first glance, a pot of boiling water should work, right? Just pour a pot down, let it sit for a few minutes. Voila! Your drains are clear. Reality is, it doesn’t work like that. 

Let’s consider the causes for a typical household drain clog. Culprits causing a clog can be material like hair, grease, soap, and various other substances. 

Characteristically, drain causing material will often accumulate quickly and won’t dissolve easily. 

Because of this, the boiling water ends up sitting in your pipes. It will eventually drain out. But depending on the materials causing the clog, the effects will be minimal. 

This is where the risk comes in. Depending on your plumbing system, using boiling water to clear a clog can damage it. 

If your drain pipes are made of PEX, CPVC, or PVC, boiling water can melt your piping. If you have iron or galvanized steel pipes, hot water will do no harm. 

But if there are any rubber or plastic joints, they will not fare well. Any material made of plastic or rubber within your piping cannot withstand such high temperatures.

So does boiling water work? Not really. The amount of water you’d need to use to even loosen a clog is enormous. Chances are you’ll damage your piping well before you loosen the clog. We do not recommend this method. 

In addition to this – avoid using boiling water on porcelain fixtures. Hot water can cause small cracks.  

Another suggested solution is vinegar and baking soda. This can help maintain your drain and deal with minor clogs. But with major clogs, this method isn’t effective.

The problem using this solution on severe clogs is that vinegar isn’t very acidic. Also, the fizzing reaction would only shift the materials clogging the drain. 

How To Properly Clear A Drain Clog

As discussed earlier, boiling water won’t cut it. The old vinegar and baking soda trick is not really effective on major clogs. Chemical drain cleaners can corrode your piping. This can lead to costly damages which you would need to repair in the long run.

So what gives? Just what is the best way to clear a drain clog?

The solution is rather simple. It’s both cost effective and effortless. This method has been the tried-and-true plumbing solution for even the most stubborn of drain clogs

All it takes is a bit of elbow grease. The solution? Get physical. 

Physical drain cleaning tools are very cost effective. They are cheaper in the long term, as they’re reusable.

There are three types of tools that you can use to clear clogs – a plunger, drain snake, and auger.

Plunger

Believe it or not, plungers are not just for toilets. You can use a plunger on most drains within your home. 

There are actually different types of plungers. Each with a distinct use, depending on the type of drain. For toilets, a flange or accordion plunger will be your go to. 

These feature a tall dome and flange which extends from the dome’s bottom. The shape allows you to effortlessly form a seal inside a toilet bowl.

For sink or bathtub clogs, best to have a sink/standard plunger on stand-by. These plungers work best on flat surfaces. 

This is due to the shape of the flat rubber cup. On a flat surface, it can form an airtight seal more easily. 

Once a seal is made, you then generate hydraulic pressure by pushing the handle up and down. This constant pressure will eventually dislodge the clog.

Drain Snake

Another tool you can use to clear a drain clog is the drain snake. This device is a long flexible rope made of metal with a spiral end. Some are also made entirely of plastic. 

You insert the drain snake into the drain until you hit the obstruction causing the clog. Then rotate the snake quickly to catch whatever material is blocking your drain. 

Retract the drain snake back out the drain. Clear the snake of any debris from the spiral end. You can use paper towels or rags to clean the snake.

Repeat this process if you feel there are additional clogs remaining in your drain. Continue to do this until your drain is clog free.  

Drain snakes work best for shallow clogs. Most often, this is likely to occur in your bathtub/shower drain.

Auger

For deeper and more stubborn clogs, use a drain auger. The function is very similar to that of a drain snake. Only difference is that drain augers are often much longer. 

They will usually feature a drum or wand to contain the snake. Some even also have a gas or electric motor. But, a manual crack auger works just fine. 

Process for using a drain auger is fairly straightforward. Like a drain snake, insert the end of the auger into the drain. 

Slowly crank the handle clockwise and push the drain auger down the drain. Keep rotating the crank until you reach the obstruction. 

Once you’ve found the obstruction, pull out the auger without rotating the handle. This way, you can be sure the obstruction comes out along with the auger snake.

Keep repeating this process until the drain is completely clear.

Drain Services With True Service Plumbing   

Dealing with a stubborn drain clog that just won’t budge? Give us a call

Our licensed plumbers will assess your home’s plumbing system and determine the root cause of your issue, and perform the services necessary to get your drains working again. 

From home drain cleaning, drain unclogging, to plumbing fixture repair or replacement, True Service Plumbing has your back when it comes to all things plumbing.

Contact True Service Plumbing today to schedule a free estimate and consultation.  

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