How to fix a blocked drain
Blocked drains are not fun at all. They can be messy, smelly and can cause a huge range of problems.
That is why we have put together a little guide to show you how to fix a blocked drain. We always recommend that you call in a professional however, if you have decided that you will go down the DIY route, keep reading for a few ways to unclog a drain.
What are the signs you have a blocked drain?
The signs and symptoms of a blocked drain can be a nuisance in themselves, and that is before you even get to the blockage. Some of the common things to look out for include:
- Smell: There is a bad smell coming from the drain.
- Draining: The plumbing is draining slower than normal.
- Sounds: The drain is making gurgling noises.
- Toilet water level: Drain blockages can cause your toilet water level to rise.
What are the common causes of blocked drains?
There are a range of things that can cause blockages in drains, including:
- Grease and oil.
- Toiletries and sanitary items.
- Excess toilet paper.
- Tree roots.
- Foreign objects, such as the build up of soap or food scraps.
How do you fix a blocked drain?
There are a few different ways that you can fix a blocked drain, and we’ve listed some of the DIY options below. If you are concerned at all, always call in the professionals - remember, they have done this before, more time than they can likely count! Or give Ryan Old Plumbing a call on 0421 185 947 and they can assist in Brisbane and the surrounding suburbs.
Check the U-bend
The first thing you should do when you have a blocked drain is to check the U-bend. A lot of the time, food blockages in the kitchen sink won’t actually go any further than the U-bend right under the sink. The best way to go about things is to grab a bucket, place it directly under the sink, unscrew the two connections of the plumbing and check the piping to see if you can spot a blockage. If you can, clean it out into the bucket and put the pipes back together again. May sound simple, but it works!
Boiling water & detergent
Well, almost boiling water. One of the first things you should do is place a teaspoon of detergent down the affected blocked drain, then place around 1 litre of (almost) boiling water down the drain. You will (likely) be required to do this multiple times, however it is a simple and easy way to clear out smaller blockages. Also remember that water that is too hot can damage PVC piping, so never place boiling water down the drain.
Baking soda & vinegar
If you would like to try something else, give baking soda, vinegar and water a go. When you mix baking soda and vinegar together, they will begin to bubble and this can assist in breaking down the blockage in your drain. The best way to approach this is by pouring (almost) boiling water down the drain, followed by ½ cup of baking soda and leave for around 3 mins, then 1 cup of plain vinegar and 1 cup of almost boiling water and place the drain plug in. Leave for 10 minutes, then pour another 1 litre of (almost) boiling water to help clean out any more of the blockage that may still be left behind.
The old fashioned, traditional way to unclog a drain is to use a plunger to get the blockage out. The force that you put into the plunger is what forces the air through the plumbing, pushing out the clogged section. To make sure you have the best chance of unblocking the drain, always cover over the overflow with a damp cloth to provide a drain seal and then use the plunger. Additionally, if you have a double sink, always block off the other drain hole to obtain the best pressure. Always make sure you give the plunger more than a few goes before giving up - many people over the years have suggested this is the best solution to a blocked drain, every time.
Chemical drain cleaners
Options such as Drain-O, Caustic Soda and Hydrochloric Acid are common choices people turn to when they have a blocked drain, and they are generally readily available at your local supermarket or hardware store. They are not always the best choice though, and can cause damage to both you and your plumbing, so make sure you read the instructions super carefully and follow them properly at all times. Also, always wear a mask and gloves when using chemical drain cleaners, and never place hot water down a drain immediately following them, as it can spray back in your face.
Another option is to hire a plumber’s snake, otherwise known as a drain auger or an electric eel, to clear out the blockage. They are available from most hire locations and unblock almost anything found in plumbing, however they require quite a bit of skills to use and can cause quite a lot of damage and mess if not used correctly. We always recommend wearing protective clothing and practising good hygiene should you come into contact with any drain fluids and remember, a plumber’s snake can scratch ceramic surfaces.
Call in the professionals
Lastly, call in the professionals. Sometimes it is just best to call a plumber and ask for a little bit of help. They have all the appropriate tools and equipment to complete the job and know what they are doing, saving you time and money in both the short and long term.
How do you prevent blocked drains?
Ultimately, the best way to fix a blocked drain is prevention. Stopping a blocked drain from occurring in the first place is the best course of action if you can, so a few steps you can take include:
- Monitor what you place down the drain. This can include food scraps, oil, toiletries and other items such as toys.
- Always use your garbage disposal as it was designed to be used.
- Place drain mesh over your plug holes, to catch hair and other debris.
- Have your drains regularly cleaned by a professional.
- Never flush anything besides toilet paper and human waste down the toilet. And watch how much toilet paper you flush too!
For further information, or for some assistance with blocked drains in Brisbane and the surrounding areas, give Ryan Old Plumbing a call on 0421 185 947 and we can assist with all your plumbing and drainage needs.