Blocked drains might be one of the worst nightmares of any homeowner. That’s because fixing such a problem can be a major headache.
Not only that, a blocked drain may pose a significant health risk to you and your family. When your drain gets blocked, the dirty waste water does not get drained properly. Gradually, it accumulates and becomes a breeding ground for harmful pathogens.
That is why ignoring such a problem is not a great idea. Whenever you suspect your drains have become blocked, you should try fixing them as soon as possible.
But if you haven’t done much plumbing work before, we are here to help you. So, in this brief guide, we have discussed some easy tips that you can follow to clear out any blocked drains in your household.
Let’s get going, then!
Symptoms Of A Clogged Drain
You should be aware of certain symptoms exhibited by a blocked drain. Some are straightforward, like noticing bad smells from your shower drain. While others can be a little obscure, such as gurgling sounds from a blocked toilet. We have listed the most common symptoms below for you:
1. Water Overflowing
This is one of the most apparent signs of drain blockage. In this, the water from your sinks and toilets will not drain at all. Instead, the water will keep accumulating to the point where it overflows from the fixture.
When you notice water overflowing from one fixture, you should immediately check if it is occurring in other places around your home. If none of the other fixtures is overflowing, the blockage is isolated to that particular place.
However, if other fixtures are overflowing, it also indicates a blockage in the main drainage pipeline. In that case, resolving it will be significantly more challenging than clearing a local blockage.
2. Slow Drainage
A slow rate of drainage is another indication of a blocked drain. When it happens, you will notice that the water pools in the toilet, sink or bathtub for a longer period before it is fully drained. Consequently, if the drainage rate is considerably slower than the usage rate, the water might start to overflow after a certain point.
Once that happens, you should check the drainage rate across other fixtures. If it is slow everywhere, then the main drainage has become blocked. But if only one or two fixtures have slow drainage, the problem is localised.
3. Bad Smells
If you notice a terrible smell coming from one or more fixtures in your household, it clearly indicates a drain blockage. You can notice the smell whenever you enter the bathroom, which might be a mild or strong odour.
Regardless, the smell can be extremely repulsive as it is caused by the decay and decomposition of organic sewage in your pipelines.
4. Gurgling Sounds
Another telltale symptom of a blocked drain is odd gurgling noises from the sink and toilets. When the pipe becomes clogged, there is no clear pathway for the water to drain out.
As a result, it pools and splashes against the walls of the plumbing system, which gives rise to gurgling noises. And the more the water splashes around, the louder the noises become.
10 Tips To Clear Blocked Drain
Using a toilet plunger is probably the simplest and most common method to clear local drain blockages. All you need to do is place the plunger firmly over the drain opening and push and pull on the handle for a few minutes.
The bell-shaped rubber mouth of the plunger forms a fully sealed environment when you place it over the drain. Subsequently, when you push and pull the handle, it creates a vacuum inside the mouth that sucks out any debris from the pipeline, effectively clearing out the blockage.
2. Boiling Water
Another simple method of clearing blocked drains is to pour hot water on them. Take boiling water from a kettle or mug, then pour it slowly over the drain.
The hot water effectively melts residues of cooking oil, grease, food waste, or any other substance with a low enough melting point. This molten substance is then easily washed away, clearing the clog from the pipeline.
However, you need to ensure that the hot water is at the right temperature, which is why you need to heat it till it boils. If you do not use boiling water, the temperature may be too low to melt the oil and grease deposits.
3. Natural Cleaners
Natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar can clear drain blockages. First, you must pour a little hot water down the drain. Then you need to pour a cup of baking soda and a cup of vinegar as an immediate follow-up to the hot water.
The resultant chemical reaction will have a fizzing effect, which can break down the blockage inside the pipes. Mix the hot water with the vinegar and baking soda in a container before pouring them down the blocked drains. But once you mix, you must pour it immediately, or the fizzing reaction will subside.
We recommend using hot water over cold or lukewarm water, as it can better soften up the debris causing the toilet blockage. Besides, hot water can produce a better reaction with baking soda and vinegar, which is an advantage.
4. Caustic Cleaners
If there are stubborn blockages, you can use acidic cleaners to clear them out. The chemicals used can dissolve most substances that clog drains, such as oil grease, mineral residues, etc.
You can purchase these cleaners from most hardware stores, which have detailed instructions for usage. We suggest you follow these instructions carefully, or the strong chemicals may adversely affect your drainage pipelines.
5. Clear The P-trap
If you have a blocked kitchen sink from food waste or oils, check out the P-trap, a U-shaped pipe below the sink. Carefully dismantle it, and clear out any dirt or dust inside the U-bend by blowing air or water through it. That will effectively remove the sink drain blockages.
6. Use A Drain Snake Or Drain Auger
This is another method of unblocking drains that have become clogged with mineral residues, food scraps, or other solid debris. A drain snake is a plumber’s tool with a long, narrow and flexible auger. This auger needs to be passed through the drain hole, and once you reach the blockage, you must apply sufficient force to dislodge the blockage.
You can clear small or localised blocks with the help of a DIY drain snake made from a wire coat hanger. But for more significant blockages, you will need to use a good drain auger, or else you won’t dislodge the blockages easily.
7. Hydro Jet
A hydro jet is an excellent technique for unblocking drains. It uses a sharp and intense stream of water to clear out more severe pipeline blockages. You need to redirect the water stream towards the part of the drain that is blocked. The high-pressure jet will effectively break down and wash away any debris clogging the pipes.
However, the machine for creating the jet is not so easy to get, which means you need to call your local plumber in this case.
8. Use A Drain CCTV
If unsure where the blockage is, you can try using a specialised drain CCTV. Typically, a professional plumber carries a CCTV with them at all times, but you can purchase one yourself if you wish.
It has a camera attached at the end of a long cylindrical pipe. You need to push the pipe through your drainage system. The video sent back by the camera will show you exactly where the blockage is and help you decide how to tackle it.
9. Pipe Relining
If a blockage is caused due to a cracked pipe, you must reline it with a flexible resin. The resin will cover any cracks and help restore the normal flow of water. You can do this for metal or ceramic pipes, and it is a very cost-effective alternative to replacing your entire drainage pipeline.
In case of a serious blockage, you will need to excavate and replace your drainage pipes. You will need to excavate the blockage ground and replace the old drain pipes with new PVC pipes. You will need to hire a licensed plumber to get this done since they know how to proceed with the task.
Causes Of A Blocked Drain
A drain can become blocked due to many reasons. Deposing toilet paper, hair, oil, and grease are some of the major causes of a blocked shower drain. Small plastic or metal bits may get lodged in the pipes, leading to solid blockages. Such clogs are relatively easier to clear out.
In some cases, burst pipes or intrusion of tree roots inside the pipeline can lead to a blocked drain. For such blockages, you may need to reline or excavate the pipes, which are much more challenging.
Identifying& Removing Stubborn Blockages
And those tips you can follow to clear out any blocked drains. As you can see, most of them are pretty straightforward, like simply pouring boiling water down the drain.
However, you should seek professional help to clear blocked drains with severe blockages. There is no harm in calling an emergency plumber; they can do a great job replacing or clearing out blocked pipes. For local and trusted plumbers in South East Queensland, make sure you speak to the friendly team at Big Blue Plumbing. We provide easy and effective drain clearing and repair solutions.
Another piece of advice that we can give you or your plumber is to check the drains after the work is done. That way, you can ensure no more issues in your drains.
Now it is time for us to wrap it up. Until next time, folks!