Everything you need to know about blocked drains that your plumber never told you
Most of us have experienced blocked drains from time to time. They can range from a blocked sink that’s had a little too much gunk or fat / oil shoved down the sinkhole, right through to a mess of roots in a major pipe that’s causing water to leak into your home, backyard or frontage.
No matter the type of blockage it’s always a good idea to see if you can trouble-shoot the blockage yourself before you give your plumber a call only to find out it was half a carrot or doll's head stuck down the sink!
Obviously if you have a plumbing emergency or you think the job is too big for your skills it’s a good idea to call a qualified Bribie Island plumber (like us!), but if it’s a simple blockage they can sometimes be fixed using these measures below.
Whose responsibility is a blocked drain?
If the drain is on your property then obviously it’s the homeowner's responsibility to fix the blocked drain. If you’re renting it’s a good idea to check with your real estate to see who is responsible for blocked drains and fixes.
Depending on the local council your easement falls under will determine the levels of responsibility certain councils will take. If you’re not sure, give your local council a call or visit their website.
How to Unblock Drains
There’s a multitude of ways that you can unblock a clogged drain. Some are good and some are bad. We will take you through the list of things you can do to try and troubleshoot a blocked drain before you need to put in a call to us.
Baking Soda (or Bicarb Soda) and Vinegar
This is an oldy but a goodie. Not only is it made from simple household items that most people have on hand it’s also not as bad for the environment as other caustic or chemical based cleaners.
There’s a couple of ways you can approach this – you can either mix 1/2 cup of baking soda and 1/2 a cup of vinegar together and try to get it down the sink as quickly as possible, or my preferred method is to wait a few hours for the sink to dry out a little, get as much of the dry baking soda down the sink as you can and then pour the vinegar into the sink.
Leave it for at least a few hours or overnight if you can and then clear out with some hot water from the kettle or tap.
This is probably the simplest and most overlooked way of unblocking a pipe (particularly in the kitchen). Fill the kettle up to as full as it will go and boil it. Then simply pour it down the sink. It might take as few goes but this is really good for oil, grease or butter based blockages.
If you’ve got some hot water left over, make sure you sit down with a coffee and congratulate yourself on a job well done!
Salt, Baking Soda and Boiling Water
Mix together 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of Baking Soda (don’t use your fancy Himalayan pink salt or Cypress black salt for this, general purpose table salt will work just fine) and pour it down the sink. Wait 15-20 mins and then pour boiling water down the sink. The chemical reaction will hopefully move any unwanted blocks.
Sometimes a plunger can be your best friend. We’ve certainly had great results in the past by using a plunger or a combination of plunger and other methods listed in this blog. The main thing you need when using a plunger is a good seal. If your plunger is old and cracked or there is air getting into the area you’re plunging it’s not going to work.
A Drain Snake
You can easily pick up a drain snake (sometimes an auger or pipe drain cleaning tool) at Bunnings and this will work if your blockage is not too far down the drain. These handy little tools extend a little cable down your drain as you turn the handle and unblock anything that’s holding up the show.
Sometimes getting a household gurney and putting it into your pipes can dislodge blocks. Keep in mind that this usually creates a hell of a mess and it won’t help for blockages that are in the S bend of a sink.
A Homemade Zipit
This is an easy and cheap way to get to potentially hard-to-reach blocks. If you have some strapping lying around or you can get your hands on some (you know the stuff that holds boxes together when you get a fridge or tv delivered etc) and cut some angled cuts into each side (think Christmas Tree and you will get the idea) you can get this down your sink and the teeth that you’ve created can snag on the blockage and move it.
Taking the pipes apart
If you’ve tried everything else and still there’s a blockage, watch the very thorough instructional video below on how to get into your sink.