You may have used drain cleaner, a plunger, or even a snake to clear out a backed up or slow-moving drain, but you may not have even considered using the method I want to share with you today! This little clog-clearing trick involves using a wet/dry vacuum (such as a Shop-Vac) to suck the blockage right out and unclog a drain.
It might sound a little crazy, and I thought so too at first! But if you think about the mechanics of it, the suction of the vacuum essentially acts as a super-powered plunger, so the logic is actually pretty sound.
Apparently plumbers have been known to use this method when tackling certain kinds of clogs, and it’s a great alternative for those who don’t want to rely on harsh chemicals, muscle power, or costly professional services. The next time you have a clogged or blocked drain, follow these four simple steps and you’ll have your drain flowing freely again in no time!
How To Unclog A Drain With A Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Wet/dry vacuum
- Screwdriver, if necessary
Step 1 – Remove Any Covers And Plates From The Drain
The first thing you’ll need to do is clear the opening of your drain, and a screwdriver might come in handy depending on what type of drain you’re working with. You might just have to remove a screw or two, or the process could be a little more complicated.
If the drain in question is in your bathroom sink, I found this video helpful for figuring out how to remove and replace the sink stopper in our studio’s bathroom. If the drain is in your bathtub, make sure to remove the overflow cover as well as the drain cover.
(Once you’re done with this process, consider adding a drain protector to prevent future clogs! The SinkShroom is a great solution for a bathroom sink, while this dome-shaped cover fits perfectly over pop-up drain blockers in bathtubs. For kitchen sinks, a 2-in-1 strainer/stopper is great for collecting food scraps while still allowing water to escape down the drain.)
Step 2 – Add Water And Plug Holes
After you’ve removed any covers or obstructions, turn the water on and allow a few inches of water to accumulate over the blocked drain. Put a rag into the water and cover the drain opening with it.
If you’re working with a sink or tub that has an overflow hole, seal that up with another wet rag. (If you don’t block up the overflow hole, it will make the suction of your vacuum much less effective against the clog.)
Step 3 – Vacuum Out The Clog
With the overflow hole blocked and a rag placed over the drain, press the end of your wet/dry vacuum’s hose against the drain to form a tight seal. Then turn the vacuum on and let it do all the hard work for you!
The powerful suction will help pull the blockage out of the drain. It it’s a more stubborn clog, you may have to adjust the seal and repeat this step a few times to get it out of the drain.
(Note: This will NOT be a splash-free process, so you don’t want to wear your Sunday best to perform this task. Also, avoid this process if you’ve recently used chemicals to attempt to unclog a drain, because you don’t want to accidentally splash yourself!)
Step 4 – Remove The Vacuum Hose And Rinse
When you’re done, turn off the vacuum and remove the hose from the drain. Turn on the water and let it run for a bit to ensure that the drain has been cleared out properly.
If it’s still taking a while to drain after you’ve removed grime from the drain, there may be more than one clump of grime obstructing the drain. If that’s the case, you may need to repeat the process to get the rest of it out.
If you keep adjusting the seal and vacuuming to no avail, you may have a more substantial clog than a wet/dry vacuum can handle. In that case, you’re probably better off calling in a professional to handle it (but hey, at least you tried!)
Looking for more useful remedies to help unclog a drain (or keep it clear)? Check out this list!
Do you have any tips or tricks for dealing with clogged drains?