How to Get Water Out of Your Washer

How to Get Water Out of Your Washer

A washing machine is a true workhorse appliance, and if it quits on you unexpectedly, it can wreak havoc on your laundry routine. To make matters worse, sometimes a washer will stop working mid-cycle, leaving you with gallons of standing water to deal with. So, what’s the easiest way to get water out of your washer without making a royal mess?

This May Also Interest You: Why Is My Washing Machine Leaking?

The truth is, there are a couple of different approaches to removing water from the washing drum when your washer won’t drain. Which one will work best for you will depend on the issue and the type of machine you have. Here’s a list of do-it-yourself strategies you can use to try and remove the water from your machine and ready it for whatever repair might be necessary.

4 Ways to Get Standing Water Out of Your Washer

Check the Lid

As with most troubleshooting, it can pay to start with the simplest possible solution. First, double-check that the washer’s lid (or door for front-loading machines) is completely closed, since this can sometimes prevent washers from completing a cycle. Many washers have a lid switch that must be in the locked position in order to run. If your washer has one of these, make sure the lid is clicking into place properly so that it’s engaging the switch. If you aren’t sure it’s working, you can try to press the lid switch manually and listen for that tell-tale clicking noise. If you don’t hear it shift into place, this could be your problem.

Try the Spin Cycle

If the lid’s not the issue, see if you can turn your machine to the spin cycle manually and try to drain the water that way. You can also go for the old “turn it off and on again” technique here by unplugging it and plugging it back in. It could be that your machine just had a weird mechanical blip that wasn’t allowing it to drain properly, and resetting it may solve the problem.

Drain the Drain Hose

If the spin cycle technique didn’t work, you can try draining the drain hose instead. Important note: You’ll want to make sure to turn off both the power and water supply before attempting this to prevent electric shock or flooding. Even so, you should plan on water leakage, so go ahead and put some old towels down to protect your floor.

For Top-Loading Machines

You’ll need to pull the washing machine away from the wall to reach the drain hose in the back. The drain hose connects your washer to a drain pipe in the wall and is typically gray. Before removing it, just double-check that it’s not kinked or twisted in a way that may be preventing your washer from draining properly.

If that doesn’t seem to be the problem, you can go ahead and disconnect the drain hose from the wall, holding it upright so the water doesn’t run out until you are ready to let the water from your machine drain into a bucket or other container.

While you have the hose disconnected from the wall, go ahead and check to see if there’s any debris stuck in the pipe. If your washer’s drain hose is clogged, that could be to blame for your drainage problem.

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For Front-Loading Machines

You’ll need to remove the access panel on the bottom front of the washer to access the drain line. Some front-load washing machines come with a single drainpipe filter, but some have both a drainpipe filter and a drain hose. For machines with only a drain pump filter, you can put a shallow container (like a plastic bin or old cake pan) under the filter to catch the water, turning the knob slowly so the water doesn’t pour out too quickly. You can dump the water as the container fills up and repeat until you’ve drained all the water.

If you have both a drainpipe filter and a pipe, you’ll need to unclip the drain tube, remove the end cap, and let the water drain from the pipe that way. While you’re here, you can go ahead and inspect the drainpipe filter for debris and scrub clean if necessary.

Manual Draining

If you try the above steps, but the water still doesn’t want to drain from your drain pipe, you likely still have a clog that you can’t locate. In this scenario, you may have to manually remove the water by scoping it directly out of the drum. This will require a container for scooping and a lot of towels to help with inevitable spillage and for sopping up the last bit of water in the drum. It’s not the most glamorous of tasks, but you’ll be glad to have all that standing water out of your washer until you can troubleshoot further.

Down the Drain

A washer not draining is a real downer, but sometimes the issue isn’t as serious as it seems. That said, appliances don’t always cooperate, and if you run into problems with any of the above approaches, you may have to call in a service professional to help get the job done.

Iced Out? Why Your Fridge Is Freezing Over

Iced Out? Why Your Fridge Is Freezing Over

Have you ever opened your fridge and wondered why the back wall is covered in a sheen of moisture? That’s condensation, which is completely normal and generally harmless. What’s not normal in most modern refrigerators is ice buildup outside of the freezer unit. If you have a huge chunk of ice forming on the wall of your fridge, you’re going to want to take immediate steps to remove it.

This May Also Interest You: Common Refrigerator Problems and How to Fix Them

Read on to find out more about ice buildup in the fridge and how to address it.

Why Is There Ice Buildup in My Fridge?

There’s always going to be a chance that moisture will collect on the inner walls of your fridge, especially toward the back. That’s because cold air holds less moisture than warm air. The colder the air is, the more moisture is pulled out of it. That moisture then settles on the surfaces of your fridge. The air inside your fridge tends to be coldest toward the back, which is why moisture often forms there first.

If you see ice starting to form on the inside of the fridge, though, that’s an indicator that something might be wrong. The normal moisture is starting to freeze, which can lead to temperature control problems inside the unit. It can also lead to the failure of the appliance.

How to Manually Defrost a Fridge

Ice can form for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, these are one-off or temporary causes, like climate issues or the way you’ve filled the fridge. Ice may build up if you’ve been opening and closing the door more than normal. If you see ice building up, you may want to defrost the fridge, then keep an eye on it to see if the issue arises again. The recurrence of ice would indicate a more serious problem.

Not all appliances are the same, so remember to consult your manufacturer’s instructions for more specific steps on what to do if your unit has ice buildup. Here are the basic steps for manually defrosting your fridge:

1. Take everything out of the fridge and freezer, then transfer it to another unit. If you don’t have another unit, consider “eating down” what’s in the fridge without replacing it so you can defrost the unit without wasting as much.

2. Unplug the unit.

3. Open the fridge and freezer doors to allow warm air inside.

4. Put drip pans or towels under the front of the fridge to catch the water that will eventually run out.

5. Let the unit defrost completely (this can take a full 24 hours), then dry interior areas with a clean towel.

6. Plug the unit back in and make sure everything’s working well. Watch for ice buildup as your fridge returns to normal temperatures.

7. Fill it back up with groceries once the temperature is cold enough, and ensure you keep the doors closed as much as possible.

Pro Tip: If you’re already going through all this work to clear out your fridge, make use of this time to deep clean the refrigerator. That way, when you get it back up and running, you have a fresh and sparkling interior, too.

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Tips for Reducing Ice Buildup in Fridge

You won’t want to have to go through the manual defrosting process too often. Here are some things you can do whether you have a full-size unit or a minifridge with ice buildup:

  • Keep the doors closed as much as possible. You let warm, moist air into the fridge every time you open the door. This can increase condensation and may make your fridge work harder.
  • Ensure your fridge is level so the doors stay closed.
  • Check the hinges and gaskets. Order replacement parts if necessary to ensure the doors can shut firmly and stay sealed.
  • Let hot dishes cool before you store them to reduce moisture in the fridge.
  • Store water-heavy foods such as fruits and vegetables in the humidity-controlled crisper to reduce the moisture in the main area.
  • Check to ensure the fridge thermostat is set correctly. The FDA recommends an internal temperature of 40 degrees or lower, but you don’t want to go so low that foods and drinks freeze inside the fridge.
  • Adjust internal fridge temperatures according to ambient temperatures outside. If the temperature of the room is warm, you may need to turn down the thermostat in the fridge to keep it cool enough for food safety. But if it’s very cold in the room outside, you might need to turn the internal fridge temperature up a bit to keep ice from forming inside. Smart fridges can often handle this adjustment for you.

Signs You May Need Help From a Professional

Water and even ice inside your fridge don’t necessarily indicate a serious problem; you may just need to perform some routine DIY maintenance. Make sure everyone in your household is also following good fridge practices as outlined above.

However, there are times that ice buildup can indicate a bigger issue. Perhaps the appliance itself is in need of professional repair. In other cases, you may need an electrician to ensure power is flowing appropriately in your kitchen. If ice buildup is a recurring issue, you should call a repair technician.

Since we’re all home now more than ever, being prepared for unexpected home repairs with a plan from Service Line Warranties of America is important. Having a plan in place gives you peace of mind knowing that you can simply call our 24/7 repair hotline for covered breakdowns. See what plans are available in your neighborhood.

How Much Does a Septic Tank System Cost?

How Much Does a Septic Tank System Cost?

Septic Tank Installation and Repair Costs at a Glance

  • Average total cost: $4,500-$9,000 (CAD 5,800-CAD 11,600)
  • Septic tank cost: $1,500-20,000 (CAD 1,900- CAD 25,800)
  • Labor cost: $1,500-$4,000 (CAD 1,900-CAD 5,100)
  • Drain field replacement: $1,000-$5,000 (CAD 1,300-CAD 6,500)

The wastewater your household creates is full of dangerous bacteria. Having a fully functioning septic tank is essential to help dispose of it safely — and to keep it from backing up into your sinks and toilets.

This May Also Interest You: What’s the Difference Between Septic and Sewer?

Read on for everything you’ll need to know about septic tank replacement, including how much it costs.

What Is a Septic Tank?

A septic tank is an underground chamber that moderately treats domestic wastewater. It’s designed to hold the wastewater long enough for solids to settle at the bottom and oil and grease to float. Liquid waste is then filtered out.

How Much Does It Cost to Install a Septic Tank?

On average, the cost of installing a new septic tank system is $6,100 (CAD 7,900), based on data from Fixr. The price ranges from $4,500 to $9,000 (CAD 5,800 to CAD 11,600) for a typical 1,000-gallon tank, which is an ideal size for a three-bedroom home.

This cost is inclusive of the tank itself, which costs around $1,500 (CAD 1,900) for a basic gravity tank and as much as $20,000 (CAD 25,800) for an aerobic system.

According to Bob Vila, labor costs are also included in the installation price, and usually range from $1,500 to $4,000 (CAD 1,900 to CAD 5,100).

Types of Septic Tank Systems

The total cost of installing or replacing your septic tank is largely dependent on the type of system you choose. Here are some of the most common kinds of tanks:

Anaerobic Septic System

Anaerobic systems are a common choice for many homeowners because they don’t require additional power or chemicals. An anaerobic system contains bacteria that do not need oxygen to survive. The bacteria break down solid waste, and the remaining liquid waste is piped out and distributed under the soil. The waste is naturally recycled as the water passes into the soil.

These systems cost about $2,000 to $5,000 (CAD 2,600 to CAD 6,400) to install.

Aerobic Septic System

Unlike anaerobic systems, aerobic systems use bacteria that do require oxygen to survive. Oxygen is pumped into the tank to activate the bacteria, which then feed on solid waste. Aerobic systems work well where the soil isn’t favorable for other systems and the groundwater table is high. It’s a good option for homes located near a body of water.

Aerobic systems are more expensive to install. Fixr says you should expect to pay between $10,000 and $20,000 (CAD 13,000 and CAD 25,800).

Gravity Septic System

A gravity septic system uses gravity for filtration and water flow. They need to be installed on a gentle slope to enable water flow without a pump.

Installation costs $1,500 to $4,000 (CAD 1,900 to CAD 5,100).

Conventional Septic System

The conventional septic system consists of a septic tank and a trench that acts as a drain field. The trench is constructed on stone or gravel and allows water to pass through. To prevent sand or dirt from contaminating the clean soil, geofabric is installed on top of the trench. A conventional septic system needs a large space to operate.

These systems cost between $2,000 and $7,000 (CAD 2,600 and CAD 9,100) to install, according to This Old House.

Mound Septic System

If your groundwater is close to the surface, a mound septic system is the best choice. A sand mound is constructed on the septic system area to pump wastewater from the tank into the mound in small quantities. The sand then filters the water before it gets into the soil and groundwater. This design requires a lot of space.

They’re also expensive to install because a sand mound has to be constructed. Total cost ranges from $10,000 to $20,000 (CAD 13,000 and CAD 25,800).

Chamber Septic System

Chamber septic systems have recently become a popular choice. They’re similar to conventional systems, except plastic chambers are used in the drain field instead of gravel. These are easier to construct and have a smaller carbon footprint.

They cost $3,500 to $10,000 (CAD 4,500 to CAD 13,000).

Septic Tank Materials

Another factor influencing cost is what your septic tank is made from. Here are some of the most common materials:


Concrete tanks are the most common type of septic tank because they’re durable. Properly maintained, they can last 20 to 30 years. However, concrete may crack over time. Reinforcing the concrete with rebar helps increase its strength under pressure. Installation is more challenging, and extensive equipment is needed because of its weight. According to HomeGuide, the cost for an average-sized concrete tank is between $700 and $2,000 (CAD 900 to CAD 2,600).


Fiberglass doesn’t weaken when used underground, and it’s nonporous, so it won’t attract algae growth. Installation is easier because the tank is light. Unlike concrete, it won’t expand or contract, so you don’t have to worry about cracking. The average fiberglass tank costs $1,600 to $2,000 (CAD 2,000 to CAD 2,600).


Plastic tanks are light and easy to install. They’re also quite durable. Depending on the type, plastic tanks cost $800 to $2,000 (CAD 1,000 to CAD 2,600), on average.


Despite steel’s strength and durability, septic tanks made of steel can rust and collapse if not properly cleaned. As a result, some local authorities have increased regulations to discourage their use. You’ll usually find them in areas where the system already existed. If you can get one installed, they cost $500 to $2,500 (CAD 650 to CAD 3,200), according to Remodeling Expense.

What Size Septic Tank Do You Need?

Septic tank size is typically determined by the number of bedrooms your home has. This is used as a way to estimate how much water will flow through the system daily. Generally, the larger the system, the higher the cost.

Two Bedrooms

A two-bedroom house requires a septic system with a minimum of a 750-gallon septic tank. However, in many municipalities, a 1,000-gallon tank is the smallest size allowed.

Three Bedrooms

A three-bedroom house will need a minimum of a 1,000-gallon water tank, which regularly handles about 360 gallons of water per day.

Four Bedrooms

A four-bedroom home requires a larger tank with a minimum volume of 1,250 gallons. It handles around 480 to 600 gallons of water per day.

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Septic Tank Repair Costs

It’s possible your entire septic tank doesn’t need to be replaced, just a specific part. Repairs and replacement parts can cost far less than a full system replacement.

Drain Field

Drain fields can overload and flood, causing a backup of sewage in toilets and sinks. Drain or leach field replacements cost $1,000 to $5,000 (CAD 1,300 to CAD 6,500), according to data from Fixr.

Tank Pump

Usually, a replacement septic tank pump costs $250 to $1,500 (CAD 320 to CAD 1,900).

Tank Filter

The tank filter is the most common replacement done by homeowners. It usually costs $200 to $300 (CAD 260 to CAD 390)

Tank Lid

Over time, concrete covers may crack, and steel lids may rust. You can typically replace a septic tank lid on your own for $150 to $500 (CAD 190 to CAD 650). It costs a bit more to have it replaced by a professional.

Tank Baffle

Baffle directs wastewater through the septic tank. Expect to pay $300 to $900 (CAD 390 to CAD 1,160) to repair a tank baffle.

Additional Factors to Consider

A septic tank can either be installed under or above the ground. Installing a tank underground is costly because of the digging and footing preparation involved.

Underground septic tanks require a drain field that can be fitted with a soakaway. The soakaway makes the tank require less emptying because it allows for some of the wastewater to filter into the ground. This can reduce your spending over time.

Different jurisdictions require different permits. Some require that an inspector visit and approve the site, which could entail a fee. Septic tank permits vary from state to state, but in general, you’ll need to pay renewal fees upon the expiry of your permit.

How Long Does a Septic Tank Last?

A septic tank’s lifespan varies depending on the material and type of system installed. Clogging caused by roots or flooding from groundwater can decrease the septic tank’s lifespan. On average, septic systems last 15 to 20 years.

Regularly servicing your septic tank is the best way to increase its longevity. It’s important to note that servicing is more than just pumping out the tank; it’s also necessary to have a professional inspect your tank regularly and perform routine maintenance.

All CAD conversions are based on the exchange rate on the date of publication.

6 Common Reasons Why Your Toilet Won’t Flush

6 Common Reasons Why Your Toilet Won’t Flush

The worst feeling is going to flush your toilet bowl and realizing the toilet water won’t go down. Is it going to overflow? Is the toilet clogged? When you see this happening, your first instinct might be to start panicking. However, there’s no reason to get stressed. A toilet that won’t flush is actually a really common issue that’s usually easy to repair. Our guide will explain some of the main reasons for toilet clogs, so you can fix the problem as quickly as possible. Remember that with all home DIY projects, safety is important. If you don’t feel comfortable doing a task, it’s best to leave it to a professional plumber.

The Toilet Won’t Flush Right Due to a Problem With Your Toilet Handle

When you try to flush your toilet, does the handle go down but nothing happens? This is usually good news because it’s often one of the easiest issues to fix. Typically, if you aren’t hearing or seeing any water move when you press the handle, it just means your toilet handle is disconnected.

Inside of the toilet tank, the flushing handle is connected to a little arm and chain that lift the flapper. When you press the handle, the toilet flapper raises, and water is dumped into the bowl. Little things like a broken link in a chain or a loose nut can disconnect the handle from the flapper. Fixing it is as basic as reconnecting a couple of basic parts.

The Toilet Won’t Flush Because Your Tank’s Water Level Is Too Low

When there isn’t enough water in the tank, the toilet can’t flush because it can’t dump enough water in the bowl. To check if this is the problem, look in the back of the toilet tank. The water should be about one inch below the top of your overflow tube. In many cases, this is pretty easy to deal with.

Sometimes, it’s as basic as just twisting the flush valve. If your toilet’s water intake valve was bumped, it might not be getting the water it needs to flush. In other cases, the float ball might’ve been adjusted improperly, causing it to sink too low and signal the tank is full before it really is. In some cases though, the root cause of this might be water pressure problems, pipe leaks, or other problems that require help from a plumber.

Toilet Water Won’t Stop Running Because of a Flapper or Fill Valve Problem

Does your toilet start to flush just fine but then won’t stop constantly running? This turns into a problem because it makes it hard to flush the toilet again in the future. A running toilet is also an issue because it can waste quite a bit of water.

Often, the underlying reason for this is that your flapper seal is bent or cracked. You may need to replace it, which is a fairly fast and easy repair. Another potential problem is hard water buildup inside of your fill valve, which can keep it from shutting off properly. After watching a couple of tutorials, it can be easy to flush the fill valve yourself, but you may want to get help from a plumber if you’re new to DIY, just to be on the safe side.

Your Toilet Is Clogged

In many cases, the problem isn’t the toilet itself. Instead, the issue is a clog inside the toilet. Toilets are only designed to handle certain types and amounts of waste. It can be pretty easy for them to get clogged with items like sanitary products, a toy your kid dropped in the bowl, or just a large amount of toilet paper.

If you have a toilet clog, you obviously know. If there’s a something in the bowl that just won’t go down, you probably have a clog. Small clogs fairly close to the surface can be dealt with yourself. You might just be able to plunge it or poke it with a toilet brush to get things moving again. For more stubborn clogs, you or your plumber may need to use a toilet auger to get in there and unclog the toilet.

You Have a Drain Line Problem

It’s possible for everything in your toilet to be functioning perfectly, but your toilet still won’t flush at all. This means the problem lies deeper inside your plumbing. The drain lines that move waste to your sewer or septic can experience all sorts of issues. If a drain line malfunction is the cause of your toilet that won’t flush, you may notice drains not working all over the house. Your sinks, showers, and tubs may get water backing up into them, or they might all drain slowly.

Just like a toilet, your drain line itself can be clogged. You may need a plumber with an extra-long auger to come out and clean it. If the drain line is broken or leaking, it can also keep your toilet from flushing. Trees and other roots from your yard can grow into the drain line, too, which may require replacing the entire drain line section.

Ultimately, there are all sorts of reasons for a toilet that won’t flush. Some of these problems are fast and easy to fix yourself, while others will require help from a licensed plumber. Help protect yourself from the hassle and costs associated with plumbing repairs by having a plan from Service Line Warranties of Canada. With a plan, we will pay for covered repairs up to the benefit amount, so you don’t have to deal with unexpected expenses. Once the problem arises, you can call our 24-hour repair line and we’ll send an expert technician to come help you.

8 possible reasons why you have no Hot Water

8 possible reasons why you have no Hot Water

8 Things to Consider If You Have No Hot Water in Your Home

When you turn on your sink or shower, you expect hot water to come out. Finding no hot water and having to take a cold shower streaming out can be unpleasant in more ways than one. In addition to the shock of the ice cold water, you might also start to worry about the energy efficiency of your water heater or if you have a natural gas leak. Before you let your mind go to the worst case scenario, rest assured there are many reasons as to why there is no hot water in your home. To start troubleshooting, find out if your home has a gas or electric water heater. Here are some common reasons for water problems and how to fix them.

1. Leaking Tank

In order for a water heater to do its job, there has to be water in the tank. If there is no hot water, it probably means that the tank is leaking. An empty tank is a serious problem and is not at all energy efficient. Inspect the connections between the appliance and its valves as well as the pipes. If those are secure, check the tank’s compartment. If there is water in the compartment, it’s most likely time to replace the appliance.

2. Gas Leak

A natural gas leak coming from your water heater is inconvenient as well as dangerous. If you suspect that gas is leaking, call your gas company as soon as possible. The gas company’s technician is a professional, but his focus is not to repair your hot water heater. The next steps depend on his assessment of the appliance. If there is a natural gas leak, the gas company will work on solutions in their realm. If there is no gas leak, your troubleshooting journey continues.

3. Electric Water Heater Malfunction

Energy efficiency is important when it comes to your water heater. Both an electric and a gas water heater can be effective at making sure you don’t wake up to no hot water in the house. But do you know the difference between a gas and electric water heater? The electric version, obviously, relies on electricity. If your home has no hot water, turn off the heater first. Then, reset the circuit breaker. If the breaker tripped, your home will receive hot water again after about an hour. A circuit breaker that continues to trip is a bad sign, so hit the reset button. If there is still an issue, speak with a qualified electrician.

4. Failing Gas Valve

Those who have a gas water heater and have no hot water should check the appliance’s supply line. If there are no leaks, take a look at the gas valve. It must be secure and in the correct place. Then, double-check that the gas is on. If the gas valve is good to go, investigate the pilot light. You may need to re-light the pilot several times. It must stay lit. If it doesn’t, the gas line could be the culprit because it is impeding the gas supply.

When none of these steps deliver hot water in an hour, it may be time to invest in an energy efficient new water heater. To be sure, call the professionals.

Keep in mind that there are additional costs to consider when replacing your water heater, and most homeowners choose between a traditional or tankless water heater.

5. Malfunctioning Thermostat

In order for a water heater to produce hot water and be energy efficient, the thermostat must be set between 122 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. If there is no hot water or the supply is not adequate or is too hot, check the upper thermostat. If the thermostat is busted, it should be replaced. Lack of regular maintenance can cause issues even though the thermostat is working because of sediment buildup. To fix this, flush your water heater.

6. Tank Size

If your tank is too small, your household is not going to be energy efficient and is going to run out of hot water faster. Maybe the appliance did its job when it was just you and your spouse. As your family grew, however, so did the demand for hot water and a lot more hot showers. This means it’s time for a larger hot water tank. When upgrading, keep in mind that electric water heaters take longer than gas water heaters to heat.

7. The Weather

The outside temperature determines how quickly water can be heated. Even in regions like the Southwest, the energy efficiency and performance of water heater tanks can suffer in the winter. If you live in an area that experiences cold snaps, this can impact your system and cause water problems. You may need to ride out the cold and then insulate the appliance.

8. Recommended Tools and Materials

Those who would want energy efficiency in the home, you may want to replace or repair the home’s water heater by yourself. We always recommend allowing a qualified electrician to take care of the job. However, if you enjoy attempting a DIY project and have some experience, you will need such tools as:

  • Screwdriver
  • Wrench
  • Electrical and plumbers tape
  • Safety glasses
  • Soldering torch
  • Tube cutter

Any other tools will depend on the type of heater you have.

Kitchen sink not draining? Here are 6 ways to unclog it

Kitchen sink not draining? Here are 6 ways to unclog it

There I was, minding my own business, washing the dishes after dinner like I always do. Just moments into scrubbing and rinsing the frying pan, I noticed that the water wasn’t draining from the sink. I checked to see if anything was blocking the drain opening – nothing. I switched on the garbage disposal, but that was only a temporary fix. As I continued washing dishes, the drainage was only getting slower. With a clogged sink on my hands, my after-dinner cleanup was about to get more intense.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to experience the inconvenience of clogged drains. Clogged kitchen sinks are among the most common drainage issues to plague homeowners, largely because food debris and soap residue are nightmares for smooth draining. Thankfully, clogged drains are also one of the easiest home repairs to make on your own. However, before you roll up your sleeves and get into the do-it-yourself spirit, make sure you’re aware of the plumbing myths that could lead you astray.

When it comes to the kitchen sink, for instance, don’t think Drano and other chemical-based drain cleaners are the easy, go-to fix. The chemicals can sometimes cause more damage to your system, even if the clog seems fixed initially. Plus, backsplash from stubborn blockages could seriously harm your skin and eyes. You can avoid these catastrophes with other clog repair methods, some using common household items and others requiring some straightforward plunger or plumber’s snake action.

Don’t call the plumber yet! There’s a good chance you can fix the problem yourself with one of these six methods to unclog a kitchen sink:

1. Attack with boiling water

When hair, grease, soap residue and other debris get stuck in your drain, boiling water may be all your pipes needs to loosen the blockage. It’s the simplest fix, which means it should be your first move when trying to unclog a sink.

Easy as 1-2-3, here are the steps to follow:

  • Bring half a gallon of water to a boil on your stove or use a kettle to heat the water.
  • Pour the boiling water directly into the drain opening.
  • Turn on the faucet to see if the water drains in a steady fashion. If it’s still draining slowly or standing still in the sink, repeat the process.

Important note: Don’t try this method if your drain is attached to PVC pipes, as the boiling water could melt or damage the plastic.

If the boiling water fails to dislodge the clog after the second try, it’s time to move on to another method. Unfortunately, you have yourself a sink clog that’s too stubborn for the simple boiling water approach.

2. Check the garbage disposal

If your sink has a garbage disposal, it could be the culprit of your drainage issues. If the clog is in the disposal, turning it on will usually break up the blockage. Overheated or dysfunctional disposals may not even turn on, but you can activate the reset switch at the side or bottom of the unit for an easy reboot. After resetting the disposal, try turning it on again to clear the clog.

If you turn on the disposal and hear a low humming sound, the unit could be jammed or broken. Before doing anything to fix your disposal, remember to disconnect the power to the unit and never – and we mean never – stick your hand in the disposal. From there, you can try to break up the clog in the disposal by turning the blades manually. You can do that by inserting an Allen wrench into the hole on the bottom of the disposal, and twisting until you feel less resistance, meaning the blockage is beginning to break up. If that doesn’t work, follow these tips to unclog your garbage disposal. Once unclogged, turn the power back on and test the disposal. If all looks and sounds good, turn the faucet to see if the sink drainage is back to normal.

Keep in mind that your garbage disposal inspection may not reveal any clogs or issues, in which case you can skip straight to a different unclogging method.

3. Plunge away the blockage

Once you establish that the disposal isn’t the problem, it’s time to bring out the plunger. But keep in mind: While you can use the toilet plunger if it’s all you have on hand, Dengarden suggested using a flat-bottomed one for the job. With your plunger at the ready, follow these steps:

  • Fill the sink with hot water until it’s about halfway full and creates a seal around the drain.
  • Position the plunger over the drain and begin pumping up and down quickly several times.
  • Remove the plunger and wait to see if the water drains.
  • Repeat the process until the water drains freely.

If the sink still isn’t draining properly after multiple plunging attempts, you know the drill. Time to try a different method.

4. Break it down with baking soda and vinegar

This approach is a natural alternative to using chemical drain cleaners on clogged drains. Much to your convenience, baking soda and vinegar are also common household items that you’re likely to already have in your kitchen. Follow these steps to let the mixture work its magic:

  • Remove standing water from the sink with a cup or bowl.
  • Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain, using a spatula or spoon to push the powder down the drain if necessary.
  • Pour one cup of white vinegar down the drain opening.
  • Place a stopper or cover on the drain to seal the opening.
  • Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes.
  • Remove the cover and run hot tap water down the drain.
  • Use boiling water to break up more intense clogs.

As with any unclogging method, this natural alternative doesn’t have a 100% success rate. However, if it seems like you’re making progress on the clog after completing the steps, repeat the process to double down on the blockage.

5. Try the plumber’s snake

The clogs that put up a fight will require the strength of a plumber’s snake to battle the blockage. The tool has a coiled spiral snake that reaches down into the drain. Once the snake hits an obstruction, you can crank the handle to dislodge the debris and pull it out of the drain. Electric snakes pack even more power to tackle clogged drains.

If you don’t have a plumber’s snake, you can create a makeshift one with a wire coat hanger. Simply use a pair of needle-nose pliers to unwind the hanger into a long piece of wire. Keep the hooked end, as this is what you’ll use to grab onto the debris. If necessary, you can use the pliers to adjust the angle of the hook so that it can easily fit through the drain opening.

No matter which tool you’re using, simply feed it down the drain a few feet at a time. Try not to push too roughly, as you might accidentally push the clog further down the pipe. When you feel the tip of your tool hit an obstruction, hook it on and pull the debris up through the drain. Keep doing this until you feel confident that the blockage is gone. Run hot water down the drain to see if you’re right.

6. Clean the P-trap

If the water is still not draining correctly, there might be a blockage in the P-trap, aka the elbow-shaped pipe under your sink. Food, grease and other debris may be stuck in the pipe, causing your sink to drain slowly or not at all because the water hits a snag on its way down.

The fix is disassembling the pipe to clean out the gunk that’s causing the blockage. Warning: This task can get a little messy, so you might want to prepare yourself with gloves, goggles and towels. When you’re ready, follow these steps to clean the P-trap:

  • Place a bucket underneath the pipe. This will catch any backed up water or debris that may fall out when you open the P-trap.
  • Unscrew the connectors on the trap that hold the curved piece to the vertical and horizontal drain pipe. There should be a slip nut on either end of the P-trap.
  • Remove the P-trap and clean the pipe of all debris, grime and residue.
  • Reconnect the trap.
  • Turn on the faucet to run water down the drain.

If the drainage situation is still not up to par, the clog may be farther up the pipe. Back under the sink you go to find the source of the blockage. Here’s what to do when you get there:

  • Repeat the steps to remove the P-trap.
  • Remove the horizontal pipe that connects the system to the wall.
  • Feed a plumber’s snake, auger or coat hanger into the wall pipe. When you feel an obstruction, use your tool to pull the blockage out from the pipe.
  • Repeat the process until you remove all debris.
  • Reassemble the pipes and P-trap, tightening the connectors by hand. (Pro tip from Home Depot: Do not over-tighten, as this may cause the connectors to crack.)
  • Run hot water to flush the drain.

Before you celebrate your handiwork, check under the sink while the water’s running to make sure there isn’t any leaking from the pipes. If you do notice leaks, make sure all the connectors are tightened. Once you’re free from the drips, dry any water spillage from under the sink or on the floor and you’re good to go.

If you’ve made it to this point and your sink still isn’t draining, there could be a larger issue at play. It’s time to give in and schedule an appointment with a plumber for a professional fix.

How to prevent future clogs

Now that your kitchen sink is draining properly again, make sure you’re taking measures to prevent clogs from coming back. The most important preventative measure is refraining from disposing of harmful items down the drain. That includes:

  • Grease, fats and oils.
  • Meat.
  • Coffee grounds.
  • Egg shells.
  • Starchy foods, such as pasta, rice or bread.
  • Fruit peels, pits and stickers.
  • Gum.
  • Paint.
  • Paper products, such as paper towels or food wrappers.

Instead, pour cooking grease in an old can and dispose of the container once it’s full. You can add certain waste, including coffee grounds, to mulch or compost piles.

The Home Depot also advised homeowners not to overload the garbage disposal. Try not to grind more than one cup of food waste at a time, and, of course, avoid sending any of the above items to the disposal. Another pro maintenance tip: Create an equal solution of vinegar and water, and freeze the mixture in an ice cube tray. About once a month, grind a few of the cubes down your disposal to scrape away food-waste buildup and keep the unit fresh. Here are more garbage disposal do’s and don’ts to keep your drains clean and clear.

Another good habit for your pipes sake is running hot water down the drain after each sink use to keep everything clear. You might also want to use a drain cover to catch debris before they cause damage in the pipes.

While clogged drains are an easy DIY fix, being prepared for serious plumbing troubles before they arise is always a good strategy.