We’ve all been there, water is pooling around our feet in the shower, the sink is taking an age to drain or the toilet bowl fills to the top when flushed. These are all the signs of a blocked drain.
But while a blocked drain is easy to diagnose, it is less easy to fix. Unless you’re a plumber with all the right tools that is. But with a little know-how, a simple blocked drain can be unblocked easily without the need for any specialist equipment.
So in this blog, we are going to look at 8 tips and ideas for unblocking drains.
1. Baking soda and vinegar
This method works best for unblocking kitchen and bathroom sinks. Mix equal parts of baking soda, vinegar and water. The mixture will start to fizz immediately, pour it down the drain as quickly as possible.
The fizzing action will get to work breaking down hair, gunk and grease that has built up over time. Leave for at least one hour, but overnight works best if you have the time. Then flush with hot water to remove any residue.
2. Boiling water
This is the simplest method but it’s only effective on small blockages of organic material such as food and fat. Start by filling a kettle or large saucepan to the top and bring it to a boil.
Then pour the water slowly down the blocked drain in three stages. Leave a few seconds between each stage. This allows time for the water to get to work breaking down the blockage. Repeat if necessary, but if it hasn’t cleared after two goes, try another method.
3. Bent wire hanger
This is an old one, but it’s surprisingly effective at removing small blockages close to the drain. Take a wire coat hanger and straighten it into a long phishing wire. Now bend over one end to make a small hook.
Push the wire, hook end first, into the drain until you feel the blockage. Then work away with the hook and phish out debris. Always work to pull debris out towards you and try not to push it further down.
4. Wet/dry vacuum
A wet/dry vacuum can be an effective tool for removing blockages. But domestic wet/dry vacuums are not very powerful so don’t expect miracles. You should still be able to use this method for small and medium-sized blockages close to the drain or plughole.
Start by creating a seal around the drain and vacuum attachment. You can use anything for this including an old sink plunger or an empty milk carton and duct tape. Then set the vacuum to the highest setting and start sucking.
5. DIY drain snake
The drain snake is a long flexible rod with a spiral on the end for hooking debris. They are a specialist plumbers tool, but you can buy smaller versions at the local hardware store.
Push the snake down the drain, spiral end first. Keep pushing until you feel the blockage. Then twist the rod to drive the spiral into the debris. Then pull the debris out. Finish by pouring hot water down the drain to flush away any residual waste.
6. Caustic soda
Caustic soda is effective at dissolving grease and fat, so this is the perfect method for unblocking the kitchen sink. Fill a bucket with 3 litres of water and add 3 cups of caustic soda. Stir well with a wooden spoon until it begins to fizz. Then pour down the drain.
Warning; Caustic soda (Sodium Hydroxide) can cause chemical burns so always wear protective gloves and eye protection when using it. If you do get any on your skin, rinse the area immediately with cold water. Do not use detergents or agitate the area.
7. Pressure washer
Most pressure washers can be fitted with a pipe cleaning kit to help unblock pipes and drains. These are great for unblocking the sewer pipe outside. Most domestic pressure washers are not powerful enough to damage the drain lining so they are safe to use.
Connect the pipe cleaning kit to the pressure washer. Feed the brass nozzle down the blocked drain. Once you feel a blockage, turn the pressure washer on. When dealing with sewage, always wear protective clothing including gloves and an eyeshield.
8. Sink plunger
The traditional sink plunger is often overlooked, but it can be a surprisingly effective tool for removing small blockages. The trick is to use a plunger the correct size for the plughole. Ideally, the plunger should be just larger than the plughole itself.
Start by placing the plunger over the plughole and half-fill the sink with hot water. Then pump the plunger up and down. You will need to continue pumping for about a minute. Then remove the plunger to see if the water drains away. Repeat as necessary.
Blocked Drains in Townsville
All of the above methods are effective at unblocking drains up to a point. But sometimes, a blockage is so stubborn that nothing seems to work. That is when you need to call in the professionals.
At 1touch Plumbing & Gas we use professional-grade equipment and detergents which are more powerful than domestic products. This allows us to quickly remove stubborn blockages in your drain and pipework.
We are based in Townsville and cover homes and businesses in Northeastern Queensland. So if you have a blocked drain, give us a call today at (07) 4795 7426 or complete the contact form here to arrange a site visit.