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  • Writer's pictureSmart Drain UK

How to Unblock A Drain

Updated: Mar 8, 2022

How to unblock a drain within your house or commercial property.

Are you experiencing a smelly drain or a blocked drain within your home or business property?

If you're struggling with things like smelly drains, overflowing water or your toilet wont flush, then you’re most likely needing to carry out a drain unblock.

The reason you could be experiencing these issues could be a number of reasons

  • Collapses pipes due to erosion

  • Tree roots breaching pipes

  • Drains blocked due to a build-up of fats oils & grease

  • Blocked toilet due to things like children’s toys being thrown into the water

  • Collapsed internal liner

  • Blocked septic tank

  • Supply of drains being overrun

  • A storm with a heavy downpour has compromised the drainage system

Whether you're searching for an answer on how to unblock a toilet, unblock a sink or how you can best deal with blocked drains it can be an absolute nightmare to find the best course of action and if left unchecked, can cause devastating damage to your property.

Often a simple sign such as slow flowing water can be an early indicator that you're experiencing a blocked drain and if treated early, can be a fairly painless problem to resolve.

In certain cases dealing with blocked drains can be fixed with relative ease, the trouble is home owners and business owners alike aren't aware of the quick fixes available which can help break down stubborn blockages and leave your drains free flowing once more.

That's why we've included a quick list of some easy home DIY solutions to help carry out a drain unblock in order to clear blockages and prevent what could be a quick 5 minute fix from escalating into something much more severe.

Boiling water

Did you know that the most common type of blockage that property owners experience within the UK are actually due to fats and oils being washed down the sink and into your drainage system? Oils and fats are more often than not a by-product of cooking and when hot are a liquid based substance which easily pours down your sink.

The trouble is when these fatty substances cool down they begin to form a solid and can start to build up within your drainage pipes and eventually cause a blockage. In rare cases, years and years of these type of liquids being poured down the sink can form a solid rock like substance called fat bergs which can completely seal your pipes and block your drains.

The easy way to fix this is to simply not pour products like these down your sink. However, if you already have and are experiencing troubles you can pour a solution of washing up liquid and boiling water down the sink to carry out a complete drainage clean.

The liquid creates a sort of lubricant to help slide the fats away whilst the boiling water helps to break down the solidification and turn the product back into a liquid which can then be washed away.

Simply boil the kettle with as much water as it will hold, then pour it slowly down the drain in a couple of stages, waiting a couple of seconds between each pour. It's one of the fastest and easiest methods to drain unblock and the best part is, it won't cost you a penny.

Clean the waste trap

If you take a look underneath your plug hold you'll undoubtedly find what we call a waste trap, these are usually plastic U bend looking pipes which screw on to the bottom of the sink and connect the plug hole to the waste pipe. Over time products such as hair, food waste, oils and other substances can build up in the bottom of the U pipe and form a tiny blockage.

This is one of the easiest blockages to fix and it's the easiest pipe to locate and access. The method for clearing this pipe is simple. Place an empty container or bucket underneath the pipe and always make sure your tap is turned off and your sink is empty (unless by this point it's blocked completely and your sink can't be emptied).

If the pipe is plastic then you'll be able to unscrew the two collars underneath the plug hole and the other which attached to the waste pipe, if your drainage pipes are metal you may need to utilise a wrench.

Once the collars are unscrewed simply remove the pipe, it may need a slight wiggle to free it if the pipe is heavily blocked. If there's water in the sink you'll now appreciate why you've placed a bucket or container underneath the pipe!

Once you have the pipe free, use your fingers or a small brush to flush through any waste build up and give the pipe a thorough clean before re attaching it. If you've found a large amount of waste build up in the pipe you can be sure this will fix your issue, if not, the drain blockage will be further down the pipe somewhere.

If this is the case you may need a CCTV survey to locate and identify the blockage, Smart Drain UK provide CCTV surveys and our engineers can locate and identify and drainage issues with ease. If you think you may need one then contact us today to find out how we can help.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

Baking Soda and Vinegar are two of the most effective natural, home-remedy cleaners that you can use all around your home. We suggest that you mix 1/3 of a cup of baking soda with 1/3rd of a cup of vinegar to create your drain unblocking remedy, be careful one mixing as the two substances will react, make sure you have appropriate PPE on such as a long sleeve top, a mask and eye protection to avoid any of the substance coming into contact with you. When mixing the two ingredients, they should start to fizz straight away so you should waste no time pouring the concoction straight down your sink. Let it sit for an hour or even over-night, for the best effect. Finally, flush it all through with some hot water.

One of the oldest home unblock methods is to utilise two common household products which are baking soda and vinegar. The method is to mix one third baking soda to one third vinegar in a cup. The two ingredients will form a chemical reaction and you'll see the mixed solution start to fizz almost like an acid.

As soon as the product has been mixed, pour it down your sink hole and into your drainage pipe. Don't add any water to this mix as it'll dilute the solution, simply pour away and let the solution work it's magic. If you've ever wanted a simple method to unblock a drain this is a really effective solution that works to attack the build up that's creating the blockage within the drain and to break it down.

Let the solution sit for an hour or two and flush it away with boiling water, you may need to fill the kettle up twice for this. If you've found the water flow has improved but still doesn't seem perfect, repeat the process again.

Use a plunger to clear your drain

We've all heard of these nifty little tools but the question we often get asked when it comes to unblocking a drain is, how do plungers work?

Plungers works by creating a seal around the pipe and utilising suction and compression to free a blocked drain. When you push a plunger down onto a pipe it forces water down encouraging the blockage to move further into the pipe, when you pull the plunger up it forces water back up the pipe and around the blockage.

By repeating this process you're encouraging the blockage within the pipe to loosen and with a little bit of luck, eventually break free. This is one of the oldest and the most simple methods available when it comes to unblocking a drain.

It can take a whole for a plunger to work and it may take you a fair few attempts but with a little bit of patience, you may find this to be one of the most effective solutions to unblocking drains.

Chemical Cleaners

Think the vinegar / baking soda method but with a little more power and a few more added chemicals that have been specifically designed to break down blockages.

Chemical cleaners can be brought from most DIY stores such as screw fix, Homebase and Wickes. The method is simple, purchase a chemical drain unblocking agent, follows the instructions on the back and pour it down your drain and leave it to sit for a few hours whilst the solution starts to work by breaking down the blockage.

Like the home baking soda / vinegar solution pour some hot water down the drain after letting it sit for a few hours to wash the substance away.

Pay attention to the instructions : It is always vital to follow the instructions when using heavy duty cleaning products when unblocking a drain in order to safeguard yourself and your property.

Biological Cleaners

If you don't like the idea of pouring a chemical solution down your drain and letting it sit there for a few hours then the alternative would be to use a biological cleaner.

Biological cleaners effectively work by using enzymes which eat their way through stubborn blockages within your drain, they are more environmentally friendly cleaning agent but aren't as strong so you may find they don't quick have the same power when compared to the chemical agents.

They don't tend to work as well on fatty substances such as oil but for blockages caused by things like hair or food waste, they can be fairly effective but don't tend to be as commonly used.

Rod It

How to rod a drain? Or how do you use drain rods to unblock drains? Two common questions we get asked frequently. As with anything in life there's not one set way to completing a task and the only way to learn the various techniques when it comes to rodding is through experience which fortunately all of our drainage engineers have plenty of.

Rodding working by connecting multiple lengths of fibre glass poles together in order to create one long pole which can be used to push through a drainage pipe and into a blockage to clear a blocked drain.

The drain rod is forced into the blockage again and again until the blockage starts to break down. This is a really effective method to clearing stubborn blockages but should be used with extreme caution. It can be easy to cause further damage to your drain pipes by utilising this system and can also lead to further problems such as drain rods snapping off underground which if left un-recovered, can lead to a blockage which is incredibly difficult to clear.

We recommend only attempting this method if you have experience with rodding drains and feel comfortable to do so. Fortunately if you don't feel confident or you don't have access to a drain rodding system, all of our engineers carry a complete set with them wherever they go and we're on hand to help, should you need us.

Call Us Today 

If you've attempted any of the methods above but are still struggling with a blocked drain, or if you don't feel comfortable or have the time to carry out the work yourself then contact the team at Smart Drain UK today and let of of our experienced, professional drainage engineers pay you a visit.

We carry the latest state of the art equipment so whether your drains are blocked by tree roots or a solid system which you can't shift, our rotary cutting equipment and high pressure drain jetting lance can easily blast through any blocked drain and leave you with free flowing pipes once again.

Our engineers are all trained to the latest industry standards and we hold recognised certification from accredited industry providers. Contact us today to find out how we can help on 01788 524353 OR 07747232242.

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