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How to unblock a drain

Blocked drains are a nuisance; try clearing them with these helpful hints

There’s no doubt that struggling with blocked drains in your household is very annoying. Seemingly, more often than not the problem happens at the most inconvenient of times.

This article will explore the methods we most often hear about, providing you with some essential advice on clearing out drain blockages.

Need professional help with a blocked drain in Brisbane? The team at Brisbane Plumbing and Drainage are experienced at quickly clearing even the most clogged drains.

Avoid these DIY hacks to clean drains

#1 - Chemical Drain Cleaners

First and foremost, we’re aware of the presence of drain cleaners on the market. Found in supermarket aisles and hardware stores, these solutions contain dangerous chemicals. Drain cleaners aren’t just an environmental hazard; they can pose a threat to your plumbing system and fixtures, and are also dangerous to your health.

One of the most commonly used chemical drain cleaners is caustic soda. Avoid using caustic soda as it can melt the pipes and if it fails to clear the blockage and remains backed up in the drain you might have to use a plunger or drain snake to help get rid of the clog which poses a risk of chemical burns.

#2 - Coat Hangers

You might have read about using a coat hanger to clear blocked drains. However, the blockages are often too deep inside the plumbing to be able to reach, plus a hanger wire may not be strong enough to clear the debris. The wire may also get stuck in the pipe or worse, break due to the blockage causing more problems than you originally had.

Easy remedies for clearing blocked drains

Naturally, a lot of us try to fix problems around the house by ourselves, in a quest to save both money and effort. Having said that, it isn’t recommended that you try a DIY drain clearing as you could be risking further damage to your plumbing system. However, if you’re so inclined, read on for a guide on home remedies.

Outlined below are some safer, more natural remedies for clearing blocked drains.

To preface this, we highly recommend you take necessary safety precautions when carrying out any plumbing maintenance by yourself. This includes wearing rubber gloves, long-sleeved clothing, closed-in footwear and if possible, eye protection.

Using a plunger

A tad old school, perhaps, though your typical household plunger can prove an effective tool against small drain blockages. The method of operation is as follows:

  • Displace whatever is covering the drain, whether it be a stopper, grate or sink strainer.
  • Fill the sink with a small amount of water. Plunge up and down for 30 seconds or so.
  • If you’re successful in clearing the blockage, pour hot water down the drain - this can help remove any residue still attached to the inside of the pipe.

(Almost) Boiling water

Simple and mostly risk-free, using hot water to flush your drains is a great way to remove smaller blockages. Remember with this method, heating the water at too high a temperature can cause damage to the structure of PVC pipes.

  • Heat water to just-below boiling point.
  • Collect a teaspoon of your standard dishwashing detergent, and pour it down the affected drain.
  • Pour a litre (or more if necessary) of nearly boiling water down the drain.

The method involves a bit of repetition if you want your drain to run as clearly as possible.

D.I.Y. Drain Cleaner: Baking soda & vinegar

The combination of baking soda, vinegar and boiling water is a proven gentle drain unblocker.

When baking soda and vinegar are mixed together, it creates a bubbling reaction that can loosen and break through the build-up in the drain.

  • Pour a litre of (almost) boiling water down the drain you’re trying to unblock.
  • Put ½ a cup of baking soda in the drain, leaving it there for a few minutes.
  • Pour a whole cup of plain vinegar, along with a whole cup of (almost) boiling water down the drain.
  • Fit the plug in the stopper, leaving for 10 minutes.
  • Pour another litre of (almost) boiling water down the drain; this will help dislodge any further build-up.

Plumber Snake or Drain Auger

If plunging doesn’t work, a drain auger or a snake can help remove the stubborn blockages. A drain snake is a flexible and long metallic cable with an uncoiled spring which goes into the pipe.

Note: Although drain snakes are good at unclogging drains, they can damage pipes if not used correctly. Use it only if you are confident.

To use a drain snake:

  • Hold the drain snake from its handle.
  • Rotate the handle and start uncoiling the drain snake along the drain. Make sure that you are rotating the handle at a consistent pace.
  • If you feel resistance, you might have reached the blockage. Once you reach the blockage, rotate the snake. Repeat this process.
  • If you hear strange noises from the pipe, readjust the as you may be damaging the pipe.
  • The auger can get stuck within the clog and if you feel the auger is stuck, pull out the snake from the pipe. The blockage might get pulled along with the snake.
  • Rotate the snake until there’s no more resistance or if the drain snake uncoils completely.
  • Pull the snake out.
  • Clean the auger head.

If you still have a blocked drain, consider calling in our expert plumbers.

Clean the P-trap

P-trap can collect debris before it becomes lodged any further inside the pipes. This vital part of your plumbing system is located directly under the sink and can be removed and cleaned easily. If you are good at taking apart things and assembling them, this approach can help keep drains clear if carried out regularly.

P-trap drain
  • Place a bucket underneath the U-shaped bend of the pipe.
  • Use a wrench and unscrew the nuts of both the pipes and carefully take off the P-trap.
  • Empty the contents of the pipe in the bucket
  • Use an old toothbrush and rubber gloves to clean the debris inside the pipe
  • Rinse the pipe with hot water
  • Put back the pipes together securely

Professional blocked drain repair

As previously mentioned, it’s highly recommended that you leave all your plumbing issues to fully licenced professionals.

Blocked drains can represent an underlying problem in your plumbing system. For example, annoyances such as blocked toilets and clogged sinks can be a result of tree roots in underground pipes or the presence of foreign matter in your drains. Only a fully-qualified plumber has the experience and technical skills to make sure your drains are in proper working order.

For an efficient, complete fix to your drainage issues, get in touch with the professionals at Brisbane Plumbing and Drainage. Call 1300 740 206 or complete a blocked drain repair booking form today.

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