You've probably heard the advice time and time again: don't put drain cleaner down the drain—call a plumber. This is good advice, as chemical drain cleaners can be corrosive to pipes and hazardous to your health. However, it probably leaves you wondering: if plumbers don't use chemical drain cleaners, then how do they clean out drains? Well, they typically turn to one of three methods.
1. Plumber's Snakes
If your plumber suspects the clog is caused by a solid impaction of something like hair or a child's toy, then they will probably use a device called a plumber's snake to remove the blockage. A plumber's snake is basically like a long corkscrew with a sharp edge. Your plumber will feed it down the drain and twist it until it latches on to the item causing the clog. Then, they will retract the plumber's snake, bringing the blockage up along with it.
Plumber's snakes can cause damage to the pipes if they are not used properly, so anyone who is not a licensed plumber should not use them.
Hydrojetting is a more modern way of removing clogs. It uses a device that shoots water out at high speeds. When moving this fast, water is very powerful. It will blast any debris and grime off the interior of your pipes.
Plumbers often use hydrojetting when the clog is deeper down in a larger pipe that they can't reach with a plumber's snake. It's also a good choice if your pipes, in general, are lined with a lot of grease or soap scum that is causing repeated clogs. All of the water used to free the debris will just get washed down the drain.
3. Enzymatic Cleaners
If your problem is isolated to one drain and is being caused by sticky debris, like grease or hair, your plumber may elect to clear the blockage with an enzymatic drain cleaner. This is different than a chemical drain cleaner. It contain specialized bacteria that break down the drain-clogging grime. It's a lot easier on your pipes, but it does need to be used very precisely and at the right concentration to be effective.
When you call a plumber to clean your drains, expect them to use one of the protocols above. They will determine which one is the best option depending on the nature of the clog and which drains are being blocked. Contact a plumber in your area to learn more about drain cleaning services.