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Unblocking Drains - The How-To Guide

Unblocking drains – a challenge for even the most experienced DIY expert. And if you are not an expert, it can prove to be even more difficult and unpleasant. In fact, if it is an outdoor, corporate or complex drainage task, we recommend that you get in contact with us to see how we can help you. But for simpler problems, follow these five tips to unclog any drains or pipes with just a little bit of effort and time.

1. Prevent Blockages in Old Pipes

Are you renting or have you recently purchased a property? Indoor and outdoor pipes or drains can accumulate grime and detritus over time.

Outdoors, build-up from your roof or the surrounding property including leaves or foliage can cause blockages. Indoors, kitchen sinks often have blockages due to unforgivable liquids or semi-solids being poured into the drains, and bathroom pipes often have blockages caused by trapped hair & soap residue.

If you are renting, especially in older properties, it might be worth checking with your landlord to confirm when (if ever) the pipes were replaced or upgraded. Outdoors – check where your guttering meets the outdoor drains, remove any visible blockages and use a hose with medium pressure water to loosen any foliage or plant matter from the roof.

 2. Unblock Drains with Boling Water

Boiling water is one of the simplest and most low-effort methods for removing those “not quite sure what is blocking my drain" problems.

Begin this DIY drain unclogging method by boiling the kettle and pouring the boiling water down the drain in 3 - 4 stages, pausing between each pour to enable the water to do its work. The hot water will soften up whatever is causing the blockage and let it move freely down the pipe. You can also prevent build-up in advance by periodically pouring boiling water down your drains.

3. Use Baking Soda and Vinegar to Unblock Your Drain

Combine two parts vinegar to one part baking soda with boiling water to unclear difficult-to-unblock bathroom pipes. Pour approximately ½ cup of baking soda and very hot or near boiling water into the drain. Leave the mixture to settle for a few minutes before adding 1 cup of vinegar.

Cover the bathroom pipe and frothing mixture with a plug for up to 10 minutes before performing a final flush with very hot or near boiling water. Should the blockage be very stubborn, consider leaving the mix in overnight to maximise the mixture's effects. 

4.  Use Plungers for DIY Plumbing

Plunging a drain (although requiring some physical effort) is one of the easiest ways to clear a stoppage. Line the rim of the plunger with Vaseline or petroleum jelly to help create a seal between the mouth of the plunger and the mouth of your drain. Fill your clogged sink, basin, bathtub or shower with enough water to cover the head of the plunger. This ensures a secure seal and a more efficient result.

Place the plunger over the drain and push-pull rapidly before removing the plunger from the drain. Remember, pulling is just as important as pushing. The goal is to get the clog moving; the direction is not important. Repeat as needed.

5. Employ a Drain Snake to Unblock Pipes

 Sometimes using a plunger just doesn’t work for clearing a stubborn stoppage. If plunging fails, a drain snake is an ideal backup option for declogging your drain. 

A drain snake is a thin metal pipe that can bend to move through curved pipes and force its way through any resistance that it might encounter. It is an ideal solution for unclogging drains in the bathroom that frequently block up from hair. Either buy a drain snake from your hardware and DIY store ( they come in a wide range of sizes and shapes ) or create a simple one by bending the end of a coat hanger into a small hook.

Unscrew the top of the drain and use the drain snake or coat hanger hook to remove any buildup of hair and soap scum. Remember the trap is often only 5-10 cm (2-4 inches) below the shower sink, so keep your drain snake short.  

While all of these tips will help you resolve simple drain blocking or clogging, for bigger or more complex problems contact Drainage TV. We provide surveyors, architects, building companies and homeowners with efficient and professional CCTV drain surveys, works over reports and a range of other services.