Dealing with a blocked drain in your home is more than just a minor inconvenience. If left unattended, it can lead to disastrous flooding. To clear a blocked drain effectively, first, it’s important to identify the specific type of blockage you’re dealing with.
Here are some common reasons behind blocked drains:
Hair and Soap Build-up: Bathroom drains often become clogged due to the accumulation of hair and soap residue. These substances tend to clump together, impeding the flow of water.
Food Waste: Kitchen sinks can easily get blocked by food waste, particularly if grease or oil is involved. Grease tends to solidify within the pipes, creating stubborn blockages.
Outdoor Debris: Drains located in the garden can become obstructed by leaves, twigs, and other debris. Over time, these materials accumulate and hinder the proper drainage of water.
Inspect the Blocked Drain
Once you’ve determined the cause of the blockage, inspect the blockage so you can clear it effectively.
Put on protective gloves to ensure hygiene and safety. Remove any visible debris from the drain opening.
Use a flashlight to examine the drain for clogs or obstructions.
Clear the Blocked Drain
Most often you can clear a blocked drain on your own without any help. Here five methods that are simple and inexpensive:
Flush Out Debris With Boiling Water
Pour boiling water from a kettle down the drain to dissolve light blockages. However, be cautious with PVC pipes, as boiling water can potentially damage them. This method is best suited for metal pipes.
Vinegar and Bicarbonate Soda Make a Perfect DIY Drain Cleaner
Boil a kettle of water and pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit for 15-20 minutes, then flush the drain with boiling water.
The combination of vinegar, baking soda, and hot water can effectively break down the blockage. If using this method in a toilet, flush it as soon as you notice fizzing. Repeat the process if necessary.
Use a Plunger to Suction Out the Dirt
Plungers are affordable and practical tools for clearing blocked drains by generating suction. You can easily find plungers at your local hardware store. To maximise the suction, ensure a tight seal around the drain entrance.
Fill the sink or tub with enough water to cover the rubber part of the plunger. Place the plunger over the drain, press down firmly to create a seal, and vigorously push and pull for 15-20 seconds.
Repeat the process several times until the blockage is dislodged. For a blocked toilet, opt for a flange plunger instead of a round cup plunger for better sealing and suction.
Twist the Obstruction Out with a Drain Snake
If none of these methods work, you can try using a drain snake or a straightened wire coat hanger to clear the blockage.
Insert the wire or snake into the drain and gently twist it, attempting to hook or break apart the blockage.
Carefully pull out the wire or snake along with any debris and dispose of it properly.
This method is particularly effective for removing matted hair. Use caution to avoid applying excessive force that could damage the pipes.
Cut Through Dirt With Chemical Drain Cleaners
You can consider using chemical drain cleaners, although these should be used with extra care. Commercial drain cleaners can be toxic and potentially harmful to your pipes.
If you decide on this method, follow the instructions precisely. However, be aware that it may leave your drain filled with toxic chemicals if it fails to clear the blockage.
Preventing Future Blockages
Here are some measures to prevent future blockages:
Install Drain Covers: Place drain covers in sinks, showers, and bathtubs to catch hair and debris, preventing them from entering the drain.
Regular Maintenance: Schedule periodic drain cleaning by pouring hot water down the drains or using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda to dissolve any build-up.
Proper Grease Disposal: Avoid pouring cooking oil or grease down the drain. Allow it to cool and dispose of it in the trash instead.
Be Conscious of What Goes Down the Drain: Refrain from flushing items like wet wipes, sanitary products, cotton balls, and food scraps down the toilet or sink.
Clearing a blocked drain can be a straightforward process if you follow the above steps. By properly identifying the issue, unclogging the drain, and taking preventive measures, you can avoid frequent blockages. However, if you face persistent blockages despite your efforts, it’s advisable to seek assistance from a professional plumber.