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  • Writer's pictureLewis New

How to unblock a drain.

How to unblock a drain

The first thing to do when you're trying to unblock a drain is to figure out how serious the blockage is. if it's worth trying to do it yourself or if you should save yourself the stress and call a professional?

here are a few helpful tips to understand how serious your blockage is.

How many plumbing fixtures are effected?

If it is just a slow draining sink or shower there is a chance that you can unblock it yourself. If the problem is in more than one area you will likely have a blockage in your main sewer pipe.

Something to keep in mind is that in many cases a basin drain and a shower drain will both run into a floor waste. If you have a slow draining shower and basin in the same bathroom you may have a blockage in your floor waste drain not your main sewer drain. this might be something that you can clear yourself.

Check your overflow gully.

A quick way to check if you have a serious blockage that will require professional help is to look at your overflow gully.

An overflow gully is a plumbing point located outside your house, it will often be below a hose tap. It should have a grate on top and have water sitting in the bottom, much like a shower drain.

If the water level is high in your overflow gully or its overflowing then you have a Main drain blockage.

If the overflow gully looks ok that doesn't always mean that the main drain is clear. The blockage may be upstream from the overflow gully.

Does the blockage keep coming back?

If you have a recurring problem there is a good chance that you have a more serious cause of the blockage.

If it doesn't seem to be a mains blockage then the next step if to think about what is likely causing the blockage.

Clogged toilet.

clogged toilet

The main perpetrator for a blocked toilet is too much toilet paper. This one normally is pretty easy to fix yourself. The best thing for a blocked toilet is the trusty old plunger!

If you have tried plunging and had no success there is a good chance that it is a more serious blocked drain. It might be time to call a blocked drains plumber.

If you don't have a plunger there is one more trick that you can try. It wont work all the time but it might be worth giving it a go.

flush the toilet then leave it until the water level returns to its normal height then flush it again. You can repeat this 5 or 6 times. The idea is that the force from flushing will slowly break up the toilet paper until the blockage can get past the bends in the toilet bowl.

If you try this just be careful not to overflow the toilet bowl when you are flushing.

While we are speaking about blocked toilets I should mention that another main cause for a blocked toilet is wet wipes. Do not flush wet wipes, I know that you have probably heard it before but we still pull a huge number of wet wipes out sewer drains.

The reason you shouldn't flush wet wipes is because they don't break down like toilet paper will. if they get caught on some tree roots or a cracked pipe they will build up and cause a major problem.

Blocked shower drain.

blocked shower

The main issue with shower drains blocking is a build up of hair in the drain. Normally you will be able to unblock a shower drain yourself.

The easiest way to unblock a shower drain it to pull off grate and pull all the hair out. It is probably going to be pretty gross so make sure you've got some heavy duty gloves.

A chemical drain cleaner might also work to clear a shower drain but you must be very careful. If you use a chemical drain cleaner and it doesn't clear the blockage you will have a drain full of harmful chemicals. This is especially troubling if the drain needs to be plunged. Make sure you use proper safety equipment and follow the directions on the packaging.

Blocked kitchen sink.

The most common cause for a blocked kitchen sink is grease buildup and food scraps. You can try a few different things to fix a blocked sink.

Plunging can work well for unblocking a kitchen sink. If there is food scraps blocking the trap under the sink a plunge can push the scraps past the bend and into the main sewer drain.

Common DIY fixes.

We have all seen a video on facebook or instagram of someone putting a cup of baking soda down the drain but do any of these DIY fixes actually work? Let's have a look at some of them.

Baking soda and vinegar.

Everyone has done the baking soda and vinegar volcano experiment but is it any good to clear a blockage?

There are two good things about this DIY hack. The first good thing is that you probably already have all the ingredients needed. The second thing is that it's pretty fun to try!

If you have the ingredients you might as well give it a go, but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy anything for the purpose of unblocking a drain. If you're making a trip to the shops to get something to help you unblock a drain I would just buy a plunger.

Boiling water

Boiling water can help with kitchen blockages. If the cause of the blockage is grease and fat then boiling water can melt the grease and let it pass through the pipes.

One thing to note is that PVC pipes aren't rated for boiling water. You should only use nearly boiling water so you don't damage your drainage system.

I would put a bit of dishwashing detergent down the drain first then poor the water down the drain.

Wire coat hanger.

Using a wire coat hanger can be pretty helpful especially for shower drains. The main reason to use a wire coatbanger is to hook the hari that might be blocking the drain and pull it out.

What to do next?

If you can unblock the drain yourself the next thing to do is call Oakland Plumbing. We are specialized drainage plumbers, We have all the tools and experience needed to get your drains flowing. If you have a clogged drain or any other plumbing issue we are able to fix the problem.

We use the latest technology to quickly fix the problem and diagnose the root cause. If you're looking for a reliable blocked toilet plumber near me then look no further.

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