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Author: Subject: How I safely unplugged a drain using Vinegar and Baking Soda
AJKOER
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[*] posted on 31-7-2022 at 05:11
How I safely unplugged a drain using Vinegar and Baking Soda


First, contrary to usual directions (see, for example, discussion here https://www.liquidplumr.com/diy-plumbing-tip/how-baking-soda... ), you cannot pour hot water into a drain that's plugged as it only dilutes the possible reagents and makes the problem worse.

Start by removing excess water in the drain itself. I successfully rolled some paper towels together, forming a stick that is dipped up and down with intermittent squeezing out in an external vessel as a path of gradually decreasing the content of water.

Next, add an excess of Baking Soda as a powder into the drain.

Finally, add vinegar into the drain and as the action commences have a suitable plug available to put over the drain and hold down.

IMPORTANT: Do expect a possible backsplash so wear appropriate clothing and eye protection.

Add more vinegar and listen for further bubbling action and reseal as before.

Repeat as needed.

MECHANICS

I suspect the vinegar helps with the process, but it is primarily a pressure tool per bicarbonate generated CO2 that makes it work!

My guess is Washing Soda (Na2CO3) would be a just as effective as Baking Soda (NaHCO3).

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[*] posted on 31-7-2022 at 05:52


Chemical plunger. I guess, when One has no other options. :D

I'd stick to NaOH, because plunging would remove bare minimum of obstruction, leaving drain to be vulnerable to future blocking, while dissolving obstruction leaves 100% free drain where there is less chance of stuff to get caught and make another block.




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[*] posted on 31-7-2022 at 06:27


When I do this, I usually add a bit of water after the baking soda and leave it for a while, so that it can percolate into the clog. That way the effervescence can break the mass up from within, rather than just from above.



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clearly_not_atara
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[*] posted on 31-7-2022 at 07:53


I've tried many variants of the "break up the clog" technique with baking soda and none of it ever seemed to work. Pressure, on the other hand, has consistently worked. Maybe it depends on what's clogging your drain.



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[*] posted on 31-7-2022 at 09:06


Lye works nice. TSP will cut a grease clog down to size. Depends on what your fighting. Last clog here was, to the best of my observations, caused by salt running low on our water softener. I found a hard waxy/chalk like white substance stuck in the drain snake tip. Think it's calcium/magnesium soap scum. When the salt runs low the resin bead ion exchange unit let's Ca/Mg water through.

About 6 rounds of 1 Tbs. Lye, waiting, some patients and a cheap drain snake got it.

I have no idea how far you can get with baking soda and vinegar. In my situation, I'd doubt very far. Good luck
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[*] posted on 31-7-2022 at 09:42


While not usually cited, Washing Soda here, especially if one decides to employ near boiling vinegar, may increase the suspected weak chemistry here for added effectiveness. However, any spattering from the CO2 mix is now more likely problematic (more caustic and hot).

As such, I stand by my original recommendation, however, I am open to recommendations from any resident biochemists :).

WARNING: Further reading my produce indigestion in sensitive people especially having recently eaten.

In this instance, the clog apparently arises from person(s) unwilling to completely scrap residual food from plates and pans. This results, apparently (per smell), in a biomass of decaying foods/oil.
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[*] posted on 31-7-2022 at 09:44


I had a blockage in the outside drain for my kitchen. I tried to unblock it with one of those coiled spring things but I could not get it through the bends to the blockage. I also tried with a hose pipe but had the same problem.

So a made a wooden plug to fit and seal where the grid had been. The plug had a hose adapter attached. I turned on the water to the hose pipe and held the plug in place. Initial the plug leaked but once I managed stop that, the pressure pushed the blocked away and presumably breaking it up the process.





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[*] posted on 20-6-2024 at 17:06


Quote: Originally posted by wg48temp9  
I turned on the water to the hose pipe and held the plug in place. Initial the plug leaked but once I managed stop that, the pressure pushed the blocked away and presumably breaking it up the process.


I, too, used to try the baking soda / vinegar, and seal method. (Btw, they're now selling vinegar so weak that it's dangerous to can foods with. You should go looking for, and order the 30% stuff, which is max they like to sell to consumers. The better stuff is for fruits and agricultural uses, and requires hazmat shipping papers, iirc).

Mixed results, and none lasting, using all the chemicals. My last attempt was this old version, of the cheapest chemical reaction.

I've moved to physical solutions for my issues (water costs less than chemicals). I've used:
https://www.harborfreight.com/medium-drain-cleaning-bladder-...

Drain-cleaning bladders, to great effect. The bladder swells up, and pressurizes the stream of water coming out, much more force than just a raw hose stuck down your drain.

This appears to be a similar type of deal, but missing the bladder (also: directing pressurized water streams at the inside surface of the pipe, rather than forcing straight through the center of the blockage, ignoring buildup on the walls like the bladder, above, does):
https://www.underhillonline.net/product_p/dn-75.htm

However, there are some issues with this type of solution. The connected bits (hose end/bladder attachment) form a solid length and width, and don't go thru crossbars (my shower drain has), and they don't take 90degree fittings well (ie: sometimes you can only get as far down as the trap). Especially in residential pipes (which are smaller) - however, once you get to 1.5"/2" diameter pipes, you can use the larger bladder versions of these, and go quite a distance (probably 200'+).

When I had my old drain pipes taken out - I had a bypass added, and double 45s instead of a single 90degree put in, so in the future I can skip the plumbing calls.

The product below appears designed to solve the 'small pipe' problem, and go around P traps' curves, but does not have the balloon (as the bladder, above) to form a pressure seal:
https://www.amazon.com/Cleaner-Bathroom-Pressure-Unblocker-F...

I've not personally tested the last two.

[Edited on 2024-6-21 by justender]
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[*] posted on 20-6-2024 at 19:42


Just be aware that PVC drain pipe is not pressure rated (usually thin walled and large diameter), so don't overdo it with the pressure unblocking methods or you may create an even bigger problem if you're really unlucky.

I usually start with NaOH and time, followed up with a plunger, then flush with hot water.




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[*] posted on 20-6-2024 at 23:00
PVC


Schedule 40 PVC is pressure rated to 330PSI at 2" diameter, smaller diameter goes up to 750PSI.

While it is true that "Drain and Sewer pipe is not designed to be used for pressure applications", I don't think we're even in the same ballpark.

The potable water system in homes is not supposed to exceed 80 PSI.

But you are correct in the sense of, "don't take a pressure washer in there to really force that stubborn clog..."

[Edited on 2024-6-21 by justender]
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[*] posted on 21-6-2024 at 05:08


I have a recurring problem with a shower drain. I have started using my wet/dry shop vac on it, and it works wonders. Usually the problem is a hair blockage. After vacuuming it out several times after adding water I get a large amount of long hair and the drain runs well for some months. Lye or sulfuric acid have not worked nearly as well on this drain.



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[*] posted on 21-6-2024 at 07:03


Quote: Originally posted by justender  
Btw, they're now selling vinegar so weak that it's dangerous to can foods with. You should go looking for, and order the 30% stuff, which is max they like to sell to consumers. The better stuff is for fruits and agricultural uses, and requires hazmat shipping papers, iirc

https://www.dudadiesel.com/search.php?query=acetic
Food grade glacial acetic acid, cheap shipping, no paperwork necessary.




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[*] posted on 21-6-2024 at 16:29


Remarkable, how many years AJKOER threads linger on.
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