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Clearing Blocked Drains

Blocked drains are a typical household problem that can quickly escalate into a significant problem if not handled immediately. It can result in a mishap, delayed work, water flooding, and even incur high costs to repair.

Burst pipes might occur because of severe blockages, necessitating even more costly repairs. Here are some of the most prevalent options for clearing blocked drains.

What Causes Drains To Clog?

At times it is so hard to tell what's blocking your drains unless you look deep into the system. However, there are moments when you can quickly tell the cause just at a glance. Here are some of the causes of common drain clogs:


Hair is one of the leading reasons for blocked drains. Hair either slows the water flow or completely blocks drains. It combines with other sticky substances to create a significant blockage in plumbing pipes.

Natural Debris

If the filth in a bathroom or dishwashing machine is not cleaned frequently, it develops a clog that blocks the drainage system. Debris can also include soil and leaves that enter the plumbing vent resulting in a blocked drain.

Food Scraps

One of the prevalent causes of blocked drains is food particles. It's beneficial if you dispose of your food scraps in a garbage disposal can. Scraping food fragments down the kitchen sink, laundry drain, or bathroom drain will cause severe blockages. Drains are not meant for food.


Dirt can get lodged in kitchen sinks, shower sinks, and toilet drainage systems unnoticed. Activities such as cleaning sprees, washing clothes, bubble baths, and garbage disposals can clog drains if not handled well. You should prevent the accumulation of dirt and rinse it away. All dirt should end up in garbage cans.

Female Hygiene Products

Female hygiene products such as tampons, pad wrappers, or baby diapers are non-biodegradable. When dumped down the toilets, they clutter up the sewage system. Hence they should be thrown into garbage disposal cans.

Oil, Grease, and Mineral Buildup

Oil, grease, and minerals do not dissolve faster in hard water. As a result, they block sinks when they build up inside the drains, resulting in a blockage that prevents water from flowing faster.

Cat Litter

Because kitty litter can cause blocked sinks since they naturally clump and absorb moisture. The last place you want it is in your drains - so never flush it.

Tree Roots

Tree roots enter drainage pipes through hairline gaps in old pipes and cause damages. This is common after a prolonged dry season. Therefore, tree roots close to drainage pipes should be trimmed.

Signs Of Blocked Drains

There are many ways to know if your drain is blocked. Here are simple ways to identify the signs before you can act on them:

Foul Smell

A foul-smelling sink or drain indicates that drain pipes are blocked. As clogs grow, they block the pipes and end up producing a foul odour.

Drain Overflow

An overflowing toilet should be a warning since a blockage could result in raw sewage spilling into your home. Check outside drains and maintenance holes for overflow signals and report them to a local plumber.

Gurgling Sounds

Strange sounds from sinks, pipes, and showers as water flows is an indication of trapped air. Noises coming from bathtubs and showers could indicate that there is a clog further down the line.

Slow Drainage

If water in toilet bowls, baths, showers, and sinks takes time to empty or creates bubbles, and backwashes, then the pipes are blocked.

How To Clear Indoor Drains

There are many ways of cleaning drains that are found within your house. You might want to know what's causing the clog before choosing an appropriate option. Here are some of the possibilities for unclogging your drains:

Using Boiling Water

Hot water may be sufficient to clear sink drains, shower drains, and bathroom drains. Heat is used to break down sticky substances such as soap, grease, and dirt stuck on drain walls.

To clear the drains, connect a pipe to the hot water system and empty it into the sink drain. You can still heat the water through different means and pour it directly down the drains. To be effective, repeat this several times. Flush water to see if the drains have been unblocked.

Using a Plunger

Plunging is the easiest method to unclog drains without dismantling pipes. It works for tub, sink, and toilet drains. You will need gloves, a bell-shaped plunger, and a cloth or damp sponge.

This method works by dislodging the blockage and forcing it down to the sewer. As such, you don't have to disassemble anything. Follow the procedure below to achieve better results:

• Pour enough water into the sink until the plunger is covered. If it's a toilet, ensure the water is half full or slightly higher.

• The plunger bell should cover the entire drain hole. Cover all overflow holes with a cloth or damp sponge. If it’s a double sink, seal other drain holes with stoppers.

• Because the bell is full of air, begin plunging slowly. A mighty plunge will force air back around the seal, resulting in water spraying all around the room.

• Having forced the air out, plunge quickly to preserve the seal. Keep plunging for around ten minutes. This sends water down the drain in all directions, hence clearing the clog.

• To keep the bell submerged, you should add water. Otherwise, air will get into the drains, and blowing air through them won't create much pressure.

That's all you need to do to clean the drains and get a steady stream of water flowing again. If the drain is still clogged, you might want to try a DIY snake drain.

Using a Drain Snake

Disconnect the P-trap under the sink before pushing the plumber’s snake down the drain, twisting it around bends and into blockages. The corkscrew tip grabs the clogs, which allows you to pull them out. Follow the procedure below for better results.

• Insert the drain DIY snake down the drain and start twisting it.

• If you sense resistance, rotate clockwise to wind the clog, then pull it out and remove the clog.

• Continue driving the snake further down the drain. It’ll break down tough clogs gradually.

• Pull out the snake and wipe it with a cloth.

• To see if your problem has been resolved, reconnect the P-trap and flush water down the drain.

Replace the washer underneath the slip nuts on metal traps to avoid leakage. If the trap is old and insecure, replace it with a new one while you're at it.

Using Baking Soda and Vinegar

Your plunger may need a little assistance to unclog drains. Chemicals can help in decomposing the thick black gunk stuck on drain walls. Vinegar and baking soda are eco-friendly and readily available.

When vinegar and baking soda are mixed, they produce foam. The chemical reaction that happens between vinegar and baking soda aids in the removal of blockages. For this method to work perfectly, you'll need hot water. A plunger can be used to remove stubborn clogs.

Here is how to utilise vinegar and baking soda:

• Pour roughly one cup of baking soda down the drain.

• Pour a cup of vinegar down the drain.

• Wait for the reaction to die. Wait until the fizzing sound dies.

• Carefully pour hot water down the drains.

• Using a plunger, plunge several times to clear the clog.

• Flush water down the drains to see if the clog has been cleared.

Using Dish Detergent

You can use any of the possible options below to clear a clogged drain with dish detergent:

• Pour boiling water carefully down the drain. This will aid in the unclogging of the blocked drain.

• Next, pour one cup of liquid detergent and wait for a few minutes.

• Again, pour boiling water down the drain. This should clear the clog. If it doesn't, repeat the process as needed.

Lather up a bit of detergent in a small amount of lukewarm water. Pour the mixture down the drain. This procedure can help if your drain isn’t too clogged. Use this procedure frequently to keep your drain unclogged throughout.

Using Caustic Soda

Caustic soda, commonly known as sodium hydroxide, should be handled with care because it can inflict chemical burns if or when it comes into contact with your flesh. Thus, you should have eye protection and wear rubber gloves to avoid injuries.

Caustic soda works the same way as dish detergent. To clear blocked drains, follow the steps below:

• Mix a cup of caustic soda with cold water.

• Stir until the liquid becomes hot and fizzy.

• Pour the mixture down the drain and wait for half an hour for it to work.

• Flush the drain with boiling water and continue the process until the drain is clear.

How To Clear Outdoor Drains

CCTV drain inspection cameras are used to check for clogged or damaged pipes. Cameras are connected to a cable reel and directed through the pipes, allowing for real-time examination and problem diagnosis.

Through Hydro Jetting

Even the most stubborn clogs can be moved along with hydro jets composed of high-pressure water jets. Because the force is so strong, plumbers should be allowed to operate the equipment. The water jet's high pressure can blast tree roots and other obstructions out of the way.

High-pressure water jets or hydro jets are used to remove stubborn clogs down the drain. They can blast tree roots and other obstacles out of the way. This method should be carried out by a blocked drain plumber.

Through Pipe Relining

After the material causing flooding or backed-up sinks has been removed using hydro jets, the pipes can be hardened. Epoxy glue that hardens is used to make the pipeline impermeable and resistant to tree roots. This is an excellent way of fixing pipes without destroying gardens.

How To Prevent Drains From Blockage

As pipes age, blocked drains become a frequent problem. However, regular maintenance can help you avoid blockages and keep your drains working smoothly. Some of the things you can do include:

• After every use, flush your drains with hot water.

• Use readily available items like salt, baking soda, and vinegar to clean your kitchen and shower drains regularly.

• Install a drain guard to protect your drains from solid particles.

• Carry out frequent repairs such as checking water filters.

Stubborn Clogs May Need Professional Help

Some blockages are stubborn. Despite your best efforts, you may be in need of expert assistance. So, in case you don't have the patience, or time to clear your blocked drains, professional drain unblockers are always available.