how to fix a blocked drain

Blocked Drains – A DIY Guide, and when to call an expert.

Blocked Drains – A DIY Guide, and when to call an expert.

Unblocking A Drain | How To Guide

Blocked drains are a very common problem, but one that can usually be easily fixed by following a few simple steps. There are many reasons that a drain can become blocked. The most common reason is that some kind of obstruction has made its way through the drain cover, and caused a build up that is preventing water from running through freely. The most common things we find blocking drains are hair, if the drain is located in a bathroom, food scraps and waste if the drain is located in the kitchen or leaves and twigs if the drain is located outside. 

In most cases, a blocked drain can be cleared using a few different methods which we will outline below. If you have a blocked drain in Sydney, then read on.

Before You Start

Before you attempt to unblock a drain, there are a few things you should check and consider to ensure that you don’t accidentally cause damage to the pipes. In cases where you have easy access to the pipes, such as under a kitchen sink or bathroom sink, fixing blocked drains can be easy. For drains that you don’t have access to the pipes, then this can be significantly more difficult and may need to the help of a licensed plumber. 

Also, if you are wanting to unblock your drain with chemicals you should make sure you have read all safety information and taken every necessary precaution, as the commercial chemicals used in drain cleaners are very corrosive and will cause serious injury if exposed to skin or eyes directly. 

Options for Unblocking a Drain

Plunger

The first thing you should try to unblock a drain is a plunger. Plungers are available from any hardware store and can range in cost from a couple of dollars and up to $20 depending on the quality, brand and size. Before buying a plunger, make sure you take note of the size of the drain you are trying to unblock and buy a plunger that is big enough to handle the job. 

Using a plunger is pretty self-explanatory. The idea here is to create a vacuum seal over the drain and agitate whatever is blocking it to a point where it dislodges it. Most kitchen and bathroom sink blockages can be fixed this way, however, if you have tried the plunger method with no success then it is time to step up to some more sophisticated equipment. 

Hand Held Drain Auger

When the plunger hasn’t worked, it might be because the blockage is further down the pipe, making it harder to dislodge. Again, a handheld auger can be purchased from Bunnings and costs around $30 to $40. Drain augers, sometimes known as drain snakes have a long flexible extension that is designed to guide itself through the curves of your pipes without getting stuck. 

Using an auger or drain snake is fairly simple. Take the hose, and begin feeding it into your blocked pipe. Continue feeding in until you find the location of the blockage, and then try to manually clear it. It is best whenever possible to retrieve and dispose of whatever is blocking the pipe, rather than trying to push it further down the pipe. Whilst some blockages can be cleared and evacuated through the normal drain system, sometimes this just pushes the obstruction down further, and cause problems in the near future. 

Getting Serious

If a handheld auger or drain snake still hasn’t managed to successfully unblock the drain, then you might want to consider calling in a professional plumber for advice. We have access to specialised equipment that makes light work of most blockages and ensures that you aren’t making the problem worse in the long term. 

Electric Drain Snakes

FDX has a wide range of equipment designed to unblock residential and commercial drains. Our electric drain snake is much longer than a handheld auger and is designed to take care of more serious blockages. Whilst the concept is similar to the previous, electric drain snakes can help to clear more serious blockages, like ones caused by tree roots, mud or hard food scraps.

If you suspect that the cause of your blockage is more serious, then it might be best to call an expert to minimise the risk of doing any damage to your pipes. This is especially true when pipes are underground or cemented in, as accidentally damaging inaccessible pipes can be costly when it comes to repairs. Better to be safe than sorry. 

Clearing Blocked Drains with Chemicals

Some blockages can also be cleared with the use of specialty chemicals. Whilst effective, these chemicals can be very corrosive and are dangerous if not handled correctly. Before using any type of chemical drain cleaner make sure you read the safety warnings and instructions in detail, and take every precaution to prevent any part of your body coming directly in contact with these harsh chemicals. 

There are some other potential risks that you should consider also, before deciding to use chemical drain cleaners. Direct contact with the drain cleaner can cause serious injury but so too can exposure to the fumes given off when using. If the drain you are trying to unblock is not in a well-ventilated area, then we advise that you never attempt to unblock a drain using chemicals, otherwise you might be risking the safety of yourself and your family. 

Another consideration is that drain cleaners are hugely toxic to the environment and as with anything that makes its way into your drain, will ultimately end up in waterways, or water treatment plants. At FDX, we strongly advise our clients to avoid the use of chemical drain cleaners if possible.

Natural Drain Cleaning Recipes

Although maybe not entirely natural, there are a number of recipes you can try that will provide you with another drain cleaning option that is not as harmful to the environment and has a significantly lower risk for personal harm. 

The ingredients that go into homemade drain cleaners are usually non-toxic and are readily available from most supermarkets or hardware stores. If the problem causing your blocked drain is minor, then a mixture of baking soda, borax, lemon juice and vinegar could be enough to clear the blockage, whilst presenting no danger to you or risking damage to your pipes. Also, combining both a natural homemade drain cleaner, with one of the manual methods above can have better results than simply trying to manually clear the blockage. 

When should you call an expert?

If you have attempted to unblock your drain with the above mentioned methods and have no success, then it is probably time to call an expert. We have access to specialised equipment that will quickly and easily solve most blockage problems and minimise the potential for causing damage to your pipes. 

Also, in the interest of health and safety, any blockage that could involve you being exposed to sewerage should also only be attempted by a trained plumbing professional. Whilst it can be unpleasant, it is a part of our job and we understand all the precautions that should be taken to prevent illness or injury from being exposed to contaminants. 

Also, if the blockage is located in any stormwater or main drain lines then an expert should always be consulted. There are many things that can go wrong if you don’t do the job properly. The last thing you want is to cause further damage to your drains or plumbing and risk them backing up which can cause huge damage and significant repair bills for the average Sydney homeowner. 

Contact FSX Plumbing Lilyfield for Assistance with Blocked Drains in Sydney and surrounding suburbs. 

We hope that you have found this article helpful and that you are able to quickly and easily unblock your problem drain. If you have followed the advice of this article, but are still having issues with blocked drains, then feel free to reach out to our team of qualified, trained and skilled plumbing professionals. We have been helping with Sydney plumbing problems for many years and have earnt a reputation as one of the best 24 Hour plumbing services in Lilyfield. 

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