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How to Water Blast a Drain

There is a tool that’s easier and less messy to use than a snake for breaking loose clogs: a “blow bag” or “hydraulic ram,” which is an expanding rubber bladder that, when attached to a garden hose and pushed down into the offending pipe, fills with water, expands, and then blasts the clog loose.

Drain-clearing water bladder attaches to a hose to blast away clogs. Photo: Cobra Products

Drain-clearing water bladder attaches to a hose to blast away clogs. Several sizes are available. Photo: Cobra Products

These simple little devices cost about $10 and will work on most clogs. You have to use them judiciously, however, so you do not break loose the connections of a plastic-pipe drain system.

1Push the blow bag about 6 inches into the drainpipe, and be ready (with a bucket) for water to back up out of the pipe. If you are using one on a bathtub, push it down the overflow pipe until it passes the tee at the tub drain.

2Turn on the water and allow the bag to fill and seal itself inside the pipe. Then it should pulse with blasts that break loose the clog.

3Be ready to turn off the water immediately if it doesn’t work.

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About Don Vandervort
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Don Vandervort developed his expertise more than 30 years ago as Building Editor for both Sunset Books and Home Magazine. He has written more than 30 home improvement books and countless magazine articles. He appeared regularly on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.

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