6 handy tips to DIY your blocked drain
Clogged drains are a messy business! Most often, hair accumulates in showers to clog drains while fats and oils build up in kitchen sinks.
Follow these strategies for clearing blocked drains inside your home and allow your drain to do what it’s meant to do: Let water drain freely.
How to clear a blocked kitchen sink
The sink is the silent workhorse of the home. Washing hands, rinsing vegetables, cleaning dishes – your sinks works around the clock. It’s only when your sink stops working that you realise just how much it does!
The most likely cause of a blocked kitchen sink is a build-up of fats poured down the sink when washing dishes. Even if you use hot water and detergent, all fat will eventually congeal and harden in the pipes, and if it hasn’t travelled further into the wastewater system, it will still be sitting inside your household pipe network. To prevent this, don’t pour fats or oils down the sink. Instead, all cooking fats should be poured into a container and disposed of in the rubbish.
If you have a blocked kitchen drain, try:
1. Boiling Water
Pouring boiling water down your drain should be your first course of action when your drain becomes clogged. Boiling water can break down and dissolve the blockage. However, only use boiling water if your pipes are metal or ceramic. If you have PVC pipes, boiling water may cause joints to loosen – you don’t want another problem on your hands!
2. Vinegar and Baking Soda
White vinegar and baking soda is a natural cleaning solution that has stood the test of time. In fact, your great-grandmother probably used it to unblock a kitchen drain or two in her day! Pour baking soda into the blocked drain, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. Promptly cover the drain. The reaction between the vinegar and baking soda produces oxygen that scours the inside of pipes and clears them out – including any blockages! You can repeat the process several times, until the blockage has passed. Finish by flushing the drain with hot water.
3. Use a Plunger
Nothing beats a bit of elbow grease! The adage definitely holds true when it comes to unclogging your drain. If no liquid can pass the blockage, it’s time to pull out the plunger. Start by removing any metal strainers from the drain opening. Then, fill your sink to halfway with water and place the plunger over the drain opening. Ensure that any overflow spouts are covered before you begin. Use fast, sharp up-and-down plunges. The swift change in up/down pressure is effective in removing solid blockages.
How to clear a blocked shower drain
The most likely cause of a blocked shower drain is hair and soap residue build-up. Hair gets trapped in pockets, creating a dam that nothing can pass through.
Plunging the shower shouldn’t be the first line of defence, however. While using a plunger can loosen the blockage and allow water to flow through, if you have a large mass, it may simply reform if not cleared manually. In that case, you may have to resort to one of these methods.
1. Caustic Chemical Drain Cleaner
Drain cleaner can be purchased from your local supermarket or hardware store. The chemicals found in drain cleaners help dissolve common blockages caused by grease, hair, and/or food.
However, commercial drain cleaners may damage pipes if used too often. If you find yourself with a recurring blockage, you should get a professional to assess the cause.
Chemical drain cleaner should not be used on septic tank systems, which usually feature PVC pipes or components. If you have a septic tank, a biological drain cleaner should be used instead.
2. Biological Enzyme Cleaner
A biological cleaner uses “good” bacteria to break down things like hair and soap residue. It also dissolves odours in your drain and while being safe for the environment and the user. It can be used for kitchen blockages or bathroom blockages, as it will attack fats and oils as well as hair. A gentle, nontoxic solution is the only one you should use if you have a septic tank system (see above).
3. Hand-Operated Drain Snake
A drain snake is a long, spiralled steel wire that can be manipulated to snare and remove debris. Drain snakes can be purchased from most hardware stores and are relatively inexpensive. A drain snake can bend around your drainpipe until reaches the clog. Once you’re up against the blockage, twist and move the drain snake around to dislodge the problem material.
How to clear a blocked toilet
Toilet blockages usually occur when tampons, pads, nappies, or dental floss is flushed. The wastewater system and pipes can’t flush these items very far without them getting stuck, and no amount of chemical drain cleaner or plunging will remove them.
Prevention is better than a cure: Only the three Ps (pee, poo, and paper) should ever be flushed.
Plunging is your best option to begin with, followed by a biological or chemical drain cleaner. If neither of those clear the blockage, call a plumber. Dealing with what may be blocking your toilet can be a health hazard, best left to the professionals!
Professional help clearing a blocked drain
In some instances, DIY drain unblocking is not enough. If your drain remains blocked, you may want to consider a professional drain unblocking service.
Envirovac offers a range of services to remedy clogged drains quickly. CCTV drain inspection can quickly identify the source of a blockage, which can then be dislodged using high-pressure hydro flushing. Our vacuum truck will then suck up any debris or residue so that nothing is left in your pipes or the wastewater system.