Most of the stoppages in plumbing fixtures come as a result of plain carelessness. Sinks stop up from an accumulation of grease inside the drain pipe or in the trap beneath the sink, basins stop up from an accumulation of hair and soap residue, and closet bowls because someone drops a wash-cloth or nail-brush into them.
The average stoppage is not serious enough to require skilled attention. The rubber plunger will remove many obstructions.
The average sink stoppage can be cleared away by-using one of the caustic compounds which are sold everywhere, and plenty of hot water. If this fails the next step is to use one of the rubber-plunger tools known as the "plumber's friend." In the event that neither of these bring relief the next step is to open the trap beneath the sink, by unscrewing the small plug at the bottom of the trap, and insert a heavy wire with the tip bent over to form a hook. With this you can attack the built-up grease in the line and clear it out. Great caution should be used in working on a trap when you have just used any caustic material, as it will burn the hands.
The clean-out plug beneath a basin or sink, can be removed to enable you to work on stubborn stoppages or retrieve lost gems.
The average stoppage can be taken out of a washbasin by pulling up the plug-stopper and removing any accumulation of hair which has wound around it. You may have to unscrew the controlling rods at the back of the basin to accomplish this. Stoppages caused by small hairpins, etc., can be removed by taking the plug out of the bottom of the trap and fishing for the obstruction with the bent wire.
A stoppage in a closet-bowl is apt to be serious, but the chances are that you can break it out by using what is known as a snake. This is a long thin ribbon of steel, with a handle on one end which you can rotate. The end of the snake is inserted into the bowl and right through it into the drain. More often than not the rubber plunger will force any obstruction through the bowl.