• In this video, This Old House plumbing and heating contractor Richard Trethewey explains how to clear a clogged drain.


    1. Clear toilet clogs with a plunger; press plunger down tight against bottom of bowl, then yank up sharply to pull clog free.
    2. For stubborn toilet clogs, use a closet auger; feed flexible cable into toilet bowl and crank handle to cut through clog.
    3. Use a hand snake to clear sink clogs; push the flexible cable down into the pipe, then turn the handle.
    4. Feed a little more of the cable down the pipe, and repeat until you remove the clog.
    5. Use plunger to clear common sink clogs; on double-bowl kitchen sinks, be sure to seal one drain when plunging the other.
    6. On lavatory sinks and bathtubs, plug overflow hole with damp rag to direct plunging power to the clog.
    7. When obstruction is in a large, main pipe, use an electric drain cleaner.
    8. Feed the cutting head into the pipe, then flip on the switch to start the cable turning.
    9. Continue to feed the cable and cutting head into the pipe until you cut through the clog.
    • Difficulty: Moderate
      depending on the severity and location of the clog

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      Video Directory

      Selected Topic/Section

      Tools List

      • Plunger
        used on toilets, sinks and tubs
      • closet auger
        Closet auger,
        used to unclog toilets
      • hand snake
        Hand snake,
        for cleaning out sink and tub drain pipes
      • electric drain cleaner
        Electric drain cleaner,
        used to clear clogs from large-diameter pipes

      Shopping List

      1. Rag,

      used to plug overflow holes in fixtures when plunging