Slow or backed-up drains are never fun, but drains with standing water can be a nightmare. Whether you're dealing with a bathtub, sink, or toilet, standing water always requires a few extra considerations versus a drain that's moving slowly but still allowing water to escape. Solving this problem isn't necessarily challenging, but you'll need to evaluate the situation and make a few decisions.
Remember that calling a plumber right away is a safer and easier option. However, if you think the clog may not be too severe, these three steps will help you attempt to resolve the situation before calling in the professionals.
Step 1: Evaluate the Clog
Start by determining the severity of the clog and its likely source. Go to other drains in your home and try running the water. Are they all running freely? If so, the clog is likely nearby the affected drain, either in the p-trap or the room's drain line. It's generally safe to attempt to clear these clogs yourself, as long as the standing water isn't sewage and doesn't have a foul odor.
However, stop what you're doing and call a plumber if other drains in your home are also running slowly or backing up. These symptoms indicate a deeper clog in your plumbing or sewer line. Most homeowners do not have the necessary tools to address these clogs, and trying to clear them yourself may cause an even bigger mess.
Step 2: Attempt to Physically Remove the Blockage
Never use chemical cleaners when there's standing water in a drain. Although the cleaners are heavier than water, they typically won't successfully make it to the clog or provide much relief. In a worst-case scenario, the cleaner will remain in your sink or tub, creating a potential hazard for yourself or any plumber that tries to clear the blockage.
Instead, start by using a plunger, but make sure you choose an appropriate type for your situation. Remember that you need to apply upward force when plunging, so be careful not to splash water around your room. A simple drain snake should be your next approach if this method fails. Both methods are safe for your pipes and unlikely to worsen the situation.
Step 3: Call in an Expert
Drain clogs can be surprisingly stubborn, and deep clogs are nearly impossible to clear without professional tools such as augers or hydro jetting equipment. If you can't clear a clog, don't keep fighting with it. Continually plunging or snaking your drains, while probably safe for your pipes, can easily create a mess by splashing water around.
A clog clearing professional — such as Juliano Cupello Plumbing — will be better able to evaluate the source of your clog and choose an appropriate solution. In severe cases, they can use a drain camera to inspect your plumbing and determine the depth and cause of the clog. These extra tools are critical to safely and effectively removing many challenging clogs.