Blocked drains are one of the most common plumbing issues your home or business will encounter, with varying degrees of severity in each case.
There can be a number of reasons for these drain blockages – including foreign materials causing an obstruction or tree roots finding their way into your pipes – but the signs pointing to a blockage are often the same.
If you have noticed a pungent smell, outside drain overflows, slow draining sinks or gurgling sounds emitting from the pipes – Houston, you have a problem.
But not every kitchen sink blockage or flooded shower points to a complete plumbing emergency. So here are a few tricks to try before calling in the emergency plumbers.
Boiling water to loosen or dissolve the blockage
For a simple fix, try pouring a kettle or pot full of boiling water down the drain. This could be enough to loosen the obstruction without having to attempt more drastic measures, especially if the problem area is in the kitchen. This is because a common cause of blocked kitchen pipes is a build-up of fat, oil or grease, which may have been disposed of when hot, but quickly solidified when it hit the cold water.
This method should not be used on PVC pipes, as the addition of heat can loosen the joints in the pipework, but is suitable for ceramic and metal drainage systems.
It is worthwhile to regularly flush your drain with hot water to prevent these food particles from clotting together inside your plumbing in the first instance.
DIY natural drain cleaner using baking soda and white vinegar
A natural and environmentally-friendly drain cleaning option is the combination of bicarb soda and white vinegar. First, pour the bicarb down the drain and follow with the vinegar, before covering the drain. Oxygen will be produced from the chemical reaction occurring inside the pipe, which helps to scour and clear the obstruction.
These steps may need to be repeated to fully clear the blockage. Once satisfied with the results, be sure to flush thoroughly with water.
Store-bought caustic chemical drain cleaner
For a more heavy-duty approach, head to the local supermarket or hardware store and search for caustic chemical drain cleaners. These are not only capable of dissolving food and grease blockages, but also hair and other common culprits.
These will not work on solid masses, such as tree roots and small household items and should be used conservatively, as they are harmful to the environment. As with the natural alternative, be sure to thoroughly rinse your pipes with water to remove remaining chemicals.
Be sure to follow the safety instructions on the packaging and protect your hands and face when using your chosen product.
Use a plunger
If the other methods have not had any success, it is time to roll up your sleeves and give the old-fashioned plunger a go. Plungers are useful for solid blockages (such as a paper towel or baby wipe build-ups) but are not as successful for grease or mineral deposits.
While plungers may be more typically associated with blocked toilets, they are also successful when it comes to clogged drains. It is also important to note there are different types of plungers to choose from. While the “flange” style (a rubber cup with an extra, more narrow ring) is useful for toilets, the simple “cup” plunger (consisting of a wooden handle attached to a rubber cup) is the most effective on flat surface drains.
Before working up a sweat, ensure you have a strong seal by covering any overflow spouts with a damp cloth, which ensures the air is pushed through the problem area. It is also a good idea to seal off any nearby drains in sinks or tubs to ensure better results.
Gently push down on the handle to force the air out initially, then continue plunging with quick and deliberate thrusts, directing the pressure down the drain without lifting the plunger enough to break the seal.
If the clog has cleared, ensure you flush the pipes to wash away any remains. Be careful not to use this method directly after pouring harsh chemicals down the drain.
Use a bent wire coat hanger
This is a straightforward, but surprisingly effective method if you have exhausted all other options before you have called a plumber.
Head to the wardrobe and fish out a regular wire coat hanger and straighten it out as best you can. Once this is done, bend one end into a “U” shape to create a small hook.
Manoeuvre your contraception through the drain cover and use it to discover and remove items which may be causing the issue. However, you want to remember to be pulling the gunk out via the hook, rather than prod it further into the pipe.
Once you feel you have removed most of the obstruction, run hot water through the pipe to give it a final flush.
Is your job too big for a DIY fix? Call in the No Probs Plumbing professionals
For stubborn or complex blockages, we highly recommend residents and business owners to engage the help of a professional plumbing service to ensure minimal disruption and damage.
When your pipes need rescuing, the Perth plumbers at No Probs are only a phone call away on (08) 9315 5545.
With no call out-fees and obligation-free quotes, our Perth plumbing team will use specialist equipment and years of experience to swiftly diagnose the problem and advise an effective solution.
With an arsenal of heavy-duty equipment at the ready, such drain snakes and a high-pressure sewer jetter, our team will have your water flow returned to normal in next to no time.
Our fully licensed plumbers and gas fitters can also assist with hot water system maintenance, suspected gas leaks, leaking taps, burst pipes, renovations and new build installations.
For further information, flick us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.