How to clear blocked drains

Male Plumber Using Plunger In Stainless Steel Sink In Kitchen

Blocked drains are one of the most common, frustrating and stressful plumbing problems that people encounter in their homes. What may start as a minor issue can soon escalate into a major problem that can wreak havoc.

A blocked drain can cause water to back up into your sinks, bath and toilets, resulting in flooding, corrosion and costly repairs. You may even experience pungent smells coming from pipes that compromise your quality of health. While some problems may be relatively easy to fix on your own, others will almost certainly require the help of a blocked drains plumber.

Quick Steps to Fix a Blocked Drain

  • Boil water and pour it down the drain to dissolve fat and grease.
  • Use a plunger to free a blockage closer to the surface.
  • Use a mix of baking soda and vinegar to remove any drain blockages.
  • Use a wire hanger to remove objects stuck in the drain.
  • Pour a drain cleaner down to remove any blockage.

Keep in mind that while these steps can help with smaller blockages, any deeper and more serious drain block will need the expertise of a professional plumber.

What are the Common Causes of Blocked Drains?

There are plenty of reasons for blocked drains. Some of them include:

  • Leaves, twigs and other outdoor debris that fall into drains from gutters or are carried there by the wind.
  • Grease and fat from cooking solidify as they cool and stick around the inner lining of pipes.
  • Foreign objects such as baby wipes, flushable wipes and sanitary items flushed down the toilet.
  • Hair and soap scum from the bathroom that have been accumulating for some time.
  • Tree root intrusions. Roots seek moisture and can invade pipes of any age.
  • Damaged or cracked pipes due to age or wear and tear.
  • Too much toilet paper flushed down the toilet. Pipes are not built to handle a mountain of paper waste.
Stainless steel sink plug hole close up full of water and particles of food. Overflowing kitchen sink, clogged drain. Problems with the water supply

Simple fixes for blocked drainage

Sometimes, when you see the cause of the blocked drain is not severe, you can unblock it yourself. Here’s how:

Boil some water: Boil a kettle of hot water and pour it down the blocked drain in phases. This helps to dissolve small accumulations of fat, grease and soap scum.

Reach for your plunger: Sometimes, all you need is a good plunge to free a blockage. Make sure the plunger is large enough to cover the drain opening and prepare to use those muscles.

Mix baking soda and vinegar: This is a natural way to clear a blocked drain. Mix one cup of vinegar and half a cup of baking soda. Pour the fizzing mixture down the drain and let it sit for a few hours. After this time has elapsed, pour boiling water down the drain.

Try the wire hanger method: It’s simple and sometimes effective. Unbend a household metal coat hanger and make a small hook on one end. Feed it through the drain and try to fish out any objects that might be stuck there. Pull out the hanger carefully with all the gunk. Be careful not to push it down deeper into the drain. 

Use drain cleaners: Try pouring liquid-based chemical products purchased from supermarkets.

These DIY methods may work, but if the problem doesn’t go away, call for a professional plumber. There may be underlying issues resulting in much more extensive and expensive problems if not addressed promptly.

When to call the professionals

Fixing a blocked drain can be more complicated than it looks, especially when you can’t resolve matters with hot water or a plunger. If there is major repair work to be done, homeowners should never try to do it on their own. Contact a licensed plumber instead.

Homeowners lack the proper tools, and it is difficult for an amateur to assess the scale and true nature of the problem. They may also make the situation worse, which could be more costly to put right. There is an old cliche about plumbers first having to fix what the homeowners ‘fixed’ before attending to what was wrong in the first place.

The DIY approach can be effective for minor clogs, but if it’s a severe blockage or you think there’s a problem with the main sewer line, only a professional plumber will do.

They have the proper tools to fix drain blockages and the expertise to operate them. These include high-definition drain and sewer line cameras, hydro jetting machines, manual drain snakes and motorised drain snakes.

By definition, a blocked drainage problem is often out of sight somewhere underground. To see what’s going on in your pipes, a plumber will insert a long, flexible metal cable with a high-definition camera attached to one end. It will relay live visual information such as cracks, tree root intrusion, the clog’s location and size and the kinds of materials plugging things up.

The plumber feeds the cable down the pipe and can manipulate it remotely. Powerful camera lights illuminate the interior, allowing every detail to be seen in real-time on a portable, closed-circuit display. Without a camera, the only way to discover what’s going on is to dig down to the pipes, which is costly, slow and destructive.

Once the source of the blockage has been found, the technician will then choose the most appropriate tool to remove it. Minor clogs can be cleared with manual or motorised drain snakes. These are augers with a corkscrew-shaped hook at one end. As they’re pushed or propelled through the system, they dislodge any debris.

One of the most powerful tools at a professional plumber’s disposal is a hydro jet or water jet drain cleaning machine. It sends a continuous blast of high-pressure water through a hose and downpipes to obliterate and clear stubborn clogs. The water can be pumped to high pressures of up to 5,000 PSI (pounds per square inch).

After the dirty work has been done, the camera is reinserted to ensure the blockage has been cleared.

Castle Hill Plumber

Your local Castle Hill plumber

Drain blockages can strike at any time, day or night and need to be repaired fast. That is why it is important to use a local emergency plumber. They can respond quickly, so you don’t have to wait too long for a response or a solution. This also means they won’t charge you a fortune in callout fees because their travel time is short.

At GSM Plumbing, we are highly trained blocked drainage specialists with vast experience of working across Castle Hill. We pride ourselves on our ability to assess any situation and implement the most effective solutions promptly. Our teams use the latest tools and technologies, which will give us an accurate picture of your drainage system’s state and allow us to clear it quickly and cleanly.

You don’t have to suffer because of blocked drainage problems. Contact GSM Plumbing today on 02 9199 2560. We’re your local drainage experts and will remove any obstacles that are blocking your water flow.

Greg Murray

Greg Murray

Greg Murray is the owner of GSM plumbing and has over 25 years' experience in plumbing and drainage. Whether you've got water leaks, blocked pipes, or need help constructing or maintaining a drainage system, Greg and his team are here to help. Find out more about GSM Plumbing.

About GSM Plumbing

Plumber Castle Hill

GSM Plumbing has been helping residents and businesses in Sydney keep their pipes flowing and drains clear for 25 years. If you've got a plumbing issue you're not sure about, give us a call on 02 9199 2560 and we can help.

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