Looking for an Effective Way to Unclog a Drain? Try a Blow Bag!
An old fashioned, but highly effective, way to address your plumbing problems and unclog a drain is a blow bag. A blow bag (also referred to as a drain flush bag, plumbing bladder, or pipe bladder) is a heavy-duty rubber balloon that is attached to a garden-hose to clear drain clogs using water pressure. It looks like a rubber pickle with the hose fitting at one end.
The bladder is like an uninflated balloon. It fits easily into a drain pipe. When the water is turned on, the bladder inflates with water and fills up within the pipe. Then, the bladder releases pressurized water through the pipe and pushes clogs out of the pipe. Plumbing blow bags are often used in situations where a drain snake isn’t as effective, such as grease clogs, because a grease clog will let the snake pass right through but the grease stays in place and continues to clog the pipe. Keep reading to learn how to use a drain bladder!
Contact AC by J’s Phoenix and Scottsdale plumbers to keep the water flowing freely down your Phoenix home’s drains! Our team is one of the best in the industry, utilizing cutting-edge equipment and training to meet your every plumbing need, including drain cleaning.
How to Use a Blow Bag to Unclog a Drain
1) Attach the Blog Bag to a Hose
Attach the blow bag to a hose, ideally one that produces hot water, which is extremely effective at dissolving clogs. However, cold water will work too. To use hot water, attach the hose to the hot water heater’s drain valve. Insert the blow bag into the drain pipe. (Note: Never insert the blow bag into a toilet or a sink drain. It may not be able to create enough friction to hold itself in place. Also, it might damage materials that cannot withstand the strain placed by the expansion of the bladder!)
2) Insert the Blow Bag Into the Drain Pipe
The blow bag is then inserted into the drain pipe as far as it will go. But don’t force the bag in. There may be bends in the pipe and forcing the bag in could result in it getting jammed. If it does get jammed, turn the hose clockwise while gently pulling it out. If one turns the hose counter-clockwise, the bag may come loose from the hose and create a much more difficult problem. It is better to insert the blow bag directly into whatever drain pipe you want cleared. This should be accomplished by removing the “P” trap under a sink, removing the toilet from the flange underneath or accessing a “clean out” in your waste system.
3) Hold Hose in Place & Turn On Water
Once the blow bag is inserted, hold the hose in place and turn on the water. The hose is placed in one side of the bladder and the whole thing is pushed down into the drain until it hits the clog. Once the blow bag is right against the clog, the water is turned on. This causes the bladder to inflate like a balloon and lock itself in place against the walls of the pipe. The blow bag is rubber so it isn’t powerful enough to break the drain lines in newer Phoenix homes. But it could damage piping and joints in older homes that cannot withstand the force created by the expansion of the bladder. A good rule to follow is, if the clog is in a drain pipe more than 20 years old, do not use a blow bag.
There are small openings cut into the end of the bladder, and when the water pressure builds up, water is forced out of these small holes with enough pressure to “blow” the clog down the drain. You should hear a buzzing sound when the blow bag is working, and this will cease once the clog has been successfully blasted out. Check around other drains, toilets, or any possible water outlet to make sure you aren’t causing water to back up elsewhere—keep an eye on this throughout the entire time the water is running. We recommend allowing the water to run for at least 30 minutes to fully dissolve the clog.
4) Turn Off the Water, Deflate the Blow Bag & Remove It from the Drain
To remove the blow bag, turn off the water, wait a few seconds for it to deflate and then gently pull it out from the drain. Again, if it gets stuck, turn it clockwise while pulling to get it past any obstacles. It’s that simple—you should have a clear and working drain again!
Common Causes of a Clogged Drain
There are many reasons why you might experience a clogged drain in Phoenix, but the most common causes include:
- Grease and fat
- Soaps and shampoos
- Feminine hygiene products
- And more!
Whatever is causing the issue, your plumbing will let you know when something has gone wrong. It’s all about knowing how to read the signs:
- Water backing up. Ever flushed a toilet or run a sink only to find that your shower drain is now blowing used water up through the drain? This is a clear sign that you have a blockage that needs to be addressed right away!
- Slow draining. Often the first sign that something is amiss is if your drains seem to take water down at a slower, creeping pace. This means there is a blockage building up in your system. It’s only a matter of time before this compounds into a full-out stoppage.
- Foul odors. Sewage smell is unmistakable. When you get an unpleasant, faintly rotting stench coming from your drains it’s time for a professional cleaning.
- Toilet overflow. If a flush isn’t quite doing what it should and your Phoenix home’s plunger just isn’t cutting it, you likely have a blockage deeper in the sewer line. This is definitely cause to call in a professional!
Choose AC by J’s Expert Plumbers for Drain Cleaning in Phoenix
The drain cleaning specialists at AC by J specialize in Phoenix-wide plumbing repair and installation services. In addition to having extensive experience and knowledge regarding modern plumbing techniques, our plumbing specialists are also licensed, bonded and insured for your Phoenix home’s safety and your peace of mind. We do extensive and ongoing training with our plumbers to ensure we only send the most knowledgeable plumbers to your home.
Not comfortable using a drain flush bag to resolve your clogged drain? Don’t let a small clog turn into a larger, costly repair down the line! Contact AC by J’s Phoenix plumbers to schedule drain cleaning in Scottsdale and the surrounding areas, including Cave Creek, Sun City, and Paradise Valley.