From Easy to Drastic: 7 ways to Clear Your Blocked Drains
Plugholes and drains deal with a lot — chunks of food, glugs of cooking oil, bugs, loo roll, the kid’s toys (because flushing them is fun), and hair. So. Much. Hair.
Without pausing for thought, we wash it all down and expect the drains to whisk all the gunk away.
And for a while they do, until the plugholes and drains decide to rebel.
Rather than washing everything away, they begin constructing a blockade.
You sense something is up when the shower water pools around your feet. And a funny odour starts hanging round the sink. Then it isn’t long before the water in the toilet bowl rises to uncomfortable levels.
‘Ignore it and it’ll sort itself out,’ you think, because dealing with blocked drains is yucky.
But dealing with a burst pipe that chucks out all the gunk you thought you’d seen the back of is far worse.
(And trust us, in a decade of plumbing experience we’ve seen how “far worse” it gets.)
When your drains start calling out for attention, don’t ignore them. Give them some TLC.
How to clear your drains — from quick fixes to drastic action
While unblocking your drains isn’t the nicest chore, it’s an essential one. Here are seven tips for cleaning and fixing your blocked drains ranging from 10-minute DIY jobs to declaring all-out war on your drain gunk.
Quick and easy drain cleaning
1. Put the kettle on
Just make sure there’s enough water in there for cleaning your drains and the cup of tea you’ll have earned once the job’s done. Pouring very hot or boiling water down the sink loosens grease and fat build up. Do this once or twice a month as a simple way to keep drains in good working order.
2. Chemical-free cleaning
For an environmentally friendly way to unblock your drains, do as Martha Stewart suggests: use what’s in your kitchen cupboards. Half a cup of baking soda and the same measure of white vinegar should do the trick. Let the reaction do its thing, and when it simmers down rinse away with hot water.
3. Take the plunger
Sometimes brute force is enough to shift a blockage. Head to your local hardware store and buy a plunger (they’re usually $20 or less), then place it over the plughole and plunge. The pressure helps loosen clogs. Follow up with boiling water to flush it through completely.
Get tough on your blocked drains
4. Chemical-strength cleaning
Still got a blocked drain? You can step it up a gear with tougher chemicals. Caustic drain cleaners can be bought from supermarkets or hardware stores. Instructions on how to use these products can vary, so always follow the steps on the label, and protect your skin and eyes when using them. Also, if possible, check the pipes for existing damage or corrosion. Flushing broken pipes with harsh chemicals makes the situation worse, and could lead to chemicals leaking out of the pipe and over your cupboard or floor.
5. Go sink fishing
Fish out whatever’s clogging your drain. The low-cost approach is to use a wire coat hanger. Straighten it out, then make a small hook on one end. Alternatively, invest in an auger drain cleaning tool (sometimes called a ‘plumber’s snake’). Lower it into the drain, lift and hook, then reel it in to see if you’ve caught a tiddler or something worthy of a trophy photo. (Although we’re not sure fatberg photos are popular on Instagram.)
Note: this technique has the potential to damage pipes. If in doubt, hire a trained plumber to help. Your peace of mind (and drains) will thank you for it.
Drastic drain cleaning action
6. Dismantle the P-trap
As you look at your kitchen or bathroom sink’s piping, the P-trap is the bendy bit. Removing and cleaning this prevents blockages and gets rid of existing gunk. First, turn off the water. Next, place a bucket under the P-trap so water in the pipe drips into the bucket and not all over your cupboard or floor. Using a wrench, loosen the slip nuts and unscrew them so the P-trap comes away completely. Clean out any debris and check either end of the pipes for further clogs. Once clear, reattach the trap and turn your water back on.
7. Admit defeat and call a plumber
You’ve tried everything: hot water, plungers, natural cleaners and chemical ones. You’ve even reached down the plughole or into the pipe, risking physical contact with the gross gunk.
The block is still there.
When to call a plumber to fix blocked drains
Calling a plumber is often the last resort. Getting a professional in is drastic — it can affect your time and cost you money. But sometimes drain problems are more serious than first thought and the only way to fix it correctly (and safely) is with plumber tools and professional know-how.
Hunter Plumbing can help you with your blocked drains, because we have a team of qualified plumbers who are reliable and affordable. Get your blocked drain fixed, rather than risk a burst pipe.
Call 0411 575 312 or email our team with a few details about your problem. We’ll be in touch to secure your appointment.