Pretty much all of us have heard the adage “A stitch in time saves nine.” Nowhere is this more true than in the world of water and drains. Waste water backup, which happens whenever a drain gets clogged and can’t do its job of removing waste quickly and painlessly from our living spaces, can become very messy, indeed. Water, when it goes to where it’s not supposed to be, can cause a great deal of damage in a very short time. Waste water is the last thing any of us want to be dealing with when we would much rather be getting on with our lives.
Let’s face it, ALL drain clogs are pesky, no matter where they are. Some, though, are more of a problem than others. A number of different things can be responsible for a clogged drain. Think about it, anything we deliberately put down a drain is an item we want to get rid of and never see again. The one notable exception is the case of small children. They usually throw things down the drain out of simple curiosity, just to see what happens next. Most of the time, though, none of us want to deal with what’s backing up, so knowing when it’s time to call a plumber for a clogged drain and getting help to fix the problem is not a bad idea.
For the DIYers in the audience, drain-clearing products, although considered convenient and less expensive in the short term, have consequences. Most plumbers, with good reason, do not recommend the use of chemical drain-clearing products. These products usually have corrosive ingredients in their composition. They can damage or destroy pipes and septic systems, and having to repair or replace pipes that were okay except for being clogged, can step up the bill quite a bit.
Sure, the drain may be unclogged in the short run, but that may well turn out to be a case of false economy. A couple hundred dollars, at the most, to unclog a drain, is far less than a couple thousand dollars to have to replace ruined pipes. And then there’s the joke that’s almost a cliché about the plumber having to fix what the homeowner “fixed” before fixing what was wrong in the first place. Unless the DIYers really know what they’re doing and know how to use the right equipment for the job, knowing when it’s time to call a plumber for a clogged drain and turning the job over to a pro is good thinking.
It’s not up to the homeowner to figure out what the exact cause of a clogged drain is. A plumber deals with clogged drains all the time. Therefore, a professional plumber has quite a bit of experience in quickly and safely resolving whatever the issue may be. Furthermore, what seems to be a “simple” clogged drain to the uninitiated may actually be more complicated than it looks and likely needs the attention of an expert.
When it comes to deciding when to call a plumber for a clogged drain, even those of us without plumbing experience can run through a decision tree in our minds, and fairly quickly, too. First question: Is there a mess that’s spreading? If yes, call the plumber. This is where “stitch in time” thinking works best. It may be a small mess that might at this point be kept in the sink. Or maybe you can contain it to an easily cleaned room. However, it could easily get out of hand without warning. The next thing you know, there’s a claim on homeowner’s or renter’s insurance for damaged furniture or carpeting. That can definitely add a lot of cost and inconvenience to the bill. And we won’t even go into what it would add to the cost if we have to go into a wall, ceiling, or floor.
Let’s go back to our decision tree. If the answer to the first question is no, then we move to the second point. Does the slowdown or blockage affect every drain in the house? If the answer is yes, the clog is in a main drain somewhere and needs to be taken care of by a professional. That means you should call a plumber. If the answer is no, then it’s a more localized issue. It could even be confined to one drain. Maybe not something that requires fast action.
When diagnosing the issue, it also makes sense to consider how soon the drain needs to be used. Is the clogged drain that one sink in the guest bathroom, for example? It may be okay to wait a bit before calling the plumber. Unless, of course, great-aunt Bessie is arriving today for her annual visit and she always uses the guest bathroom. In that case, the need to clear out that particular drain has just become both urgent and important. If, however, it isn’t easy to figure out what’s causing the problem, calling in the plumber is probably the best possible move.
Which brings us to our next question: Is the clogged drain in a critical area? For example, is it in the kitchen sink? Or in the main floor lavatory that everyone uses? Or maybe the clogged drain is in the only bathroom in the house? Yikes. Of course, what qualifies as a critical area depends on the situation. If the answer is yes, call in the plumber. If the answer is no, there’s time to take a deep breath.
The bottom line when deciding to call the plumber for a clogged drain is when it first comes to the attention of the user(s) of that particular fixture. “A stitch in time saves nine” are good words to live by, especially when it’s a clogged drain issue. Addressing the problem right away can keep worse things from happening.
Do you have clogged or slow drains? Give us a call now to schedule your appointment with one of our certified plumbing technicians.