How to clear an outside blocked drain

We tend to not pay much attention to our outdoor drains. That is until something goes wrong. Often rearing its ugly head after a downpour, a blocked drain can cause significant damage to a property if not dealt with quickly. While your first instinct may be to call a professional, there are a few things you can do to quickly clear an outside drain. Before you reach for the phone, try these DIY tips for clearing an outside drain.

DIY Guide to unblocking an outside drain

  1. Determining the cause of the blockage

Outside drains tend to become blocked when overwhelmed by organic material such as dirt, leaves or other debris. Excessive rainfall can also cause drains to overflow as they may struggle to cope with the sheer volume of a large downpour.  Other issues can because of blockages in the plumbing system from things that shouldn’t be flushed blocking the pipes such as wet wipes or sanitary items. Once you have determined the cause of the blockage, you can then assemble the tools you need to remedy it.

  1. Gather your drain clearing tools

Having the right tools on hand will ensure that you can clear your outside drain before any property damage occurs.   It pays to have the following items on hand for when an outdoor drain blockage occurs.

  • Drain Rods

Drains rods are sturdy yet flexible rods that are screwed together end-to-end. Drain rods are an inexpensive tool that can be picked up relatively cheaply from your local hardware store. Drain rods are your best tool to find and remove a blockage.

  • Gloves

Clearing an outdoor drain is a messy business. Make sure you wear a pair of protective rubber gloves before you go fishing about in your drain.

  • A Bag

Keep a plastic bag nearby to store any debris that you remove from your drain. You do not want to leave this debris in your yard as it will eventually find its way back into your drain!

  • Rope

Some drain covers can be very heavy. Using a rope will allow you to wrench open your drain cover more easily.

  • Hose

Once you have cleared your blocked drain you will need a hose to flush the drain with clean water.

  1. Remove the drain cover and peek inside

All drains are different. Some drain covers can be removed easily while others require a bit more encouragement. Particularly stubborn drain covers can be removed using your rope. Simply tie it around the drain handle and give it a good pull. Once remove, glance inside the drain (a torch may be useful here). If the drain chamber is empty, the blockage will be located before the chamber. If the chamber is flooded the blockage is somewhere after the chamber.

  1. Using your drain rods

Wearing your protective rubber gloves, insert your drain rods into the drain, continually feeding the rods through until you encounter the blockage.  Once you have encountered the clog, slowly rotate the drain rods in a clockwise direction, and push them away from you. Continue pushing the rod through the blockage to breakdown any grease or debris sitting in the drain.

  1. Clean up

Once you have cleared your blockage, grab your hose, and run some fresh water through your drain. This will rinse away any remaining debris and help prevent any future blockages.

Is your outside drain still blocked? You may need to call a professional.

If your blockage is substantial, or an overflowing drain is threatening to damage property, do not hesitate to call an expert. Envirovac offer an efficient emergency drain unblocking service using the latest in tools and technology. Envirovac can quickly identify and remedy blocked outside drains and help to prevent future blockages occurring. Book your outside drain unblocking here.

How To Clear A Blocked Drain

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.

The top five reasons your drain is blocked

While a clogged pipe or a blocked drain may seem like a minor issue, it can quickly escalate into a major problem if not dealt with immediately. Leaving a blocked drain can lead to slow water drainage, corrosion, flooding, and in serious cases sewage backup and expensive repairs. Prevention is key when it comes to stopping blocked drains, and prevention starts with recognising what’s causing the issues in the first place. Below are the top five reasons your drain could be blocked.

1. Hair

One of the main culprits for drain blockages is hair, as it can bind with grease and other sticky substances to form large clogs. No matter what kind of hair, it always has a way of gradually building up in your drains. Failure to nip this in the bud can lead to huge problems, as clogged hair will prevent water from passing freely in your pipes. Luckily there are certain tools and devices available on the market that can prevent hair from building up.

2. Food Waste

It is best to note that food waste should never go down the drain. While you may have a garbage disposal in your sink, you are better to set up a composting pile to get rid of your waste, as food scraps can also clog your drains. In particular, you should also be cautious of grease and oils as they can solidify inside your pipes. Absorbing your oils with paper towels and throwing them away in the compost will help keep your drains blockage-free.

3. Toiletries

Toiletries can be a huge problem. Anything from baby wipes, nappies, ear buds and feminine hygiene products can all block your drains. Most of these items become greatly swollen when immersed in water, as they are highly absorbent. Unlike toilet paper, they cannot disintegrate easily when being flushed down the toilet and will therefore get stuck in your pipes.

4. Tree Roots

If you have a small crack or leak in your pipe, it can start to attract tree roots as they search for water. Once they’ve reached the inside of your pipes they can quickly grow larger and will obstruct water flow and can cause pipe damage, resulting in costly repairs. Cleaning tree roots from your pipes needs to be done by a professional as it can be quite a complex process. To prevent blockages from tree roots it is best to keep your trees watered so that they don’t seek out your pipes as a source of moisture.

5. Foreign Objects

Sometimes random items can easily and unintentionally be dropped down the drain. For example, it could be any object or materials like soap or even jewellery. It may often be small children flushing anything they can get their hands on, including toys! Most of the time it can be something odd, but as to be expected, these objects will lead to the problem of a blocked drain.

Being mindful of these top five causes of a blocked drain will help prevent future blockages. If you think you may have a blocked drain or damage to your pipes, you should always contact an expert for professional advice. At Envirovac, we’ll help you inspect your drains using CCTV drain inspection cameras to get a closer look at the problems affecting the insides of your drains. To find out more about how we can help click here.