How to Unblock a Drain: A Practical Guide
A blocked drain can be a major inconvenience, but the good news is that there are a number of ways you can unblock it yourself without having to call a plumber. Here’s a practical guide to help you get your drains flowing freely again.
Step 1: Locate the blockage
The first step in unblocking a drain is to locate the blockage. This can often be done simply by visual inspection, but if the blockage is deep in the pipes, you may need to use a camera to locate it. An inspection camera can be purchased for between $100 and $1,000, depending on the quality and features.
Step 2: Gather your tools
Before you begin, gather the tools you’ll need. This will include a plunger, a drain snake, a bucket, rubber gloves, baking soda, and white vinegar. If the blockage is severe, you may also need a plumbing auger or a commercial drain cleaning product.
Step 3: Use a plunger
The first tool you should use to unblock a drain is a plunger. Simply place the plunger over the drain and push down firmly, creating suction to clear the blockage. Be sure to keep the plunger submerged in water while you work. If the plunger doesn’t clear the blockage, move on to the next step.
Step 4: Use a DIY solution
A simple and effective DIY solution to unclog a drain is using baking soda and white vinegar. First, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, then add a cup of white vinegar. Cover the drain and let it sit for about 30 minutes. After that, flush the drain with hot water. This method works well for small blockages caused by grease or soap scum.
Step 5: Use a commercial drain cleaner
If the DIY solution doesn’t work, you can try using a commercial drain cleaner. Be sure to read the instructions carefully and wear gloves to protect your skin. These products can be harsh, so use them with caution.
Step 6: Use a plumbing auger
If the blockage is severe and the plunger, DIY solution, and commercial drain cleaner don’t work, you may need to use a plumbing auger. A plumbing auger is a specialized tool that can be used to remove blockages that are deep in the pipes. We’ve written another piece on how to use a plumbing auger.
Step 7: Clean up
Once the blockage has been removed, it’s important to clean up any debris that may have been dislodged. Use a bucket to remove any debris that may have been pulled out of the drain, and be sure to properly dispose of it.
Step 8: Prevent future blockages
As Hunter Water says: “Our pipes are having issues with your wipes, paper towels and tissues”. You should only flush human toilet waste and toilet paper.
Kitchen sinks should also limit the amount of food scraps, grease and oil that goes down the sink. A simple sink strainer will help keep your kitchen sink free of debris.
Wrapping up: How to unblock a drain
By following these steps, you can easily unblock a drain yourself, without having to call a plumber. Remember to take precautions like using rubber gloves to avoid exposure to any caustic cleaners, dirt or bacteria that could be present in the blocked drain.
If the blockage is severe or you’re unable to remove it yourself, don’t hesitate to call The Plumbing Life Saver (a leading Newcastle Plumber) to help with your blocked drain.