How To Clear A Blocked Drain - When To Call In The Professionals
If you are currently experiencing a blocked drain, first of all, we are sorry. We understand blocked drains are frustrating, unsanitary and somewhat urgent — if they aren’t addressed quickly, they are sure to lead to a bigger plumbing problem.
However, they are more common than you may think — a blocked kitchen sink, shower drain, or blocked toilet are all relatively common issues for a professional plumber to handle.
It can be difficult to know your next move with a clogged drain; that’s where we come in. An important note before we jump into this article — there will be a solution. Even stubborn blockages will be resolved in time, so take a breath, and let’s jump into some of the common causes for drain blockages, what you can do about them and when it may be time to call a professional plumber.
Where are drains commonly located at a property, and what purpose do they serve?
If you are a homeowner, property manager or own a business, it may be helpful to first talk about the common drains found within a regular plumbing system, so you can get the lay of the land when it comes to what might be going wrong with your sewer drainage system.
Your sewerage drainage system is a network of underground pipes for draining water waste from your laundry, kitchen, bathroom and other household sinks and plumbing fixtures. Basically, the fundamental role of these pipes is to carry sewage from your home to your city’s treatment plant.
Outside your house, you will have roof drains, gutter, and downspout drains. Inside you will usually have bathroom and kitchen sink drains, toilet drains and sewer drains (located underground). These drains are also fitted with different components to help avoid blockages.
For example, under your kitchen sink, there is something called a P-trap. A P-trap is a curved pipe that is shaped like the letter P. The P-trap holds standing water, preventing sewer gases from rising up from the sewer system and causing a foul smell in the house. Similarly, your toilet and other fixtures have similar mechanisms to keep everything smooth sailing.
How to spot a blocked drain
There are a few sure-fire ways to spot a blocked drain:
- Water will not go down
- A foul smell may arise
- Gurgling noises
- Slow draining
Common causes of blocked drains - frequently asked questions
There are a number of things that can cause blocked drains. We will list some of the potential blockages below:
- Sanitary products — sanitary products, nappies, baby wipes etc., should not be flushed down your toilet bowl — these foreign objects could lead to a blocked toilet
- Built up grease and fat from cooking
- Foreign objects — if you have children, you may be familiar with more severe blockages caused by flushing items that simply shouldn’t be flushed
- Built up soap and detergent
- Mineral build-up
- Misaligned, wonky or collapsed pipes
- Food scraps — food scraps or food debris should not be discarded down the kitchen sink. This is also true of coffee grounds
- Hair — an unavoidable but significant contributor to a clogged drain
- Cat litter
- Tree roots — tree roots can cause local drain blockages
Can hair block drains?
The short answer is yes. Over time, hair can accumulate in drains and create a blockage. Hair often gets caught in bathroom drain traps and pipes, especially in sinks and showers. It is possible for more hair to accumulate combined with other substances, such as soap, shampoo, and dirt, preventing water from flowing freely.
If you are looking to avoid hair blocking your drains, investing in a drain strainer or screen is a budget-friendly solution to catch your hair particles before they go down the drain.
Can oil block drains?
Yes! Pouring cooking oils, grease and fat down the drains over time could create a blockage. Some type of oils harden at room temperature, which can cause significant blockages once they coat the inside of your pipes.
Can toilet paper block drains?
It may seem counterintuitive initially, but yes, toilet paper can occasionally cause blockages. Toilet paper has been designed to dissolve in water, so it doesn’t usually cause blockages; however, occasionally, if too much is used, it can cause a blockage.
DIY methods for clearing minor blockages
Combining white vinegar and baking soda
The chemical reaction of white vinegar and bicarb soda can help to unblock a drain. For this drain cleaner to work, first, pour a litre of boiling water or very hot water down the drain. Then pour half a cup of baking soda and wait 5 minutes. Then pour one cup of vinegar with another cup of boiling water down the drain hole. Put the plug over the hole and wait 10 minutes. Finally, pour another litre of boiling water or very hot water down the sink.
We hear you — it’s not ideal. But a plunger is a great way to check for any solid blockages on the drain opening side closest to you. Plungers work by forming a seal around the plug and then using a vacuum effect; they are able to remove the blockage.
DIY drain snake
By using thin wire, such as that of a coathanger, you can make your own drain snake to insert into the drain hole and see if you can remove any blockages. This is most effective for hair blockages in a shower.
Detergent and hot water
If it’s a minor blockage, simply running hot water with detergent may help dislodge it.
When to call a professional plumber
If you were unable to clear a clogged drain with the above simple DIY methods, it’s likely time to call in a professional. Sometimes stubborn blockages require more serious tools; that’s where we can come in and help you get your drains back to normal.
What drain-clearing equipment does the Proud Plumbing team use?
With an innovative CCTV Locating Device, Pressure Jet or Electric Drain Machine, our blocked drain plumber can locate the source of the blockage and resolve it quickly. Our policy is not to leave your premises until the blockage is completely cleared and your drainage system is working properly again.
Tips for preventing future blockages
- Use a drain strainer or screen to stop hairs, food debris, and other potential blockages before they go down the drain
- Avoid pouring grease down the sink — instead, tip it into foil and dispose of it in the bin
- Only flush toilet paper down the toilet
- Regularly clean your drains with natural cleaners like vinegar and bicarb soda
That’s a wrap on this blog post on clearing a blocked drain. If you think you have a blocked drain that just doesn’t seem to budge, please reach out to our friendly team, and we will help you to get it cleared promptly and efficiently.