Homes have so many drains, and we often don’t know how we’re supposed to care for our drain systems, which means they often go without being looked after, inevitably leading to clogs and blockages within the pipes. These blockages, if left unattended, can grow and cause bad smells and drain flies. A blockage can also cause your plumbing to drain too slowly, leading to stagnating water and subsequently mildew and mould.
Luckily, there are lots of ways to unblock drains. You can try lots of things to fix your blocked drains, regardless of whether the drain blockages are in the indoor or outdoor drains. If these next steps don’t solve it, circle back and call a professional that deals with drain repair Scarborough.
Natural methods of unblocking drains
For small drains blocked with organic blockages, natural methods often work efficiently at removing the blockage, saving you from having to use a drain snake or get dirty. These methods work best on indoor drains like your sink drain, shower drain, toilet drain, and kitchen sink. These drains tend to get blocked by things like soap scum, grease, fat, food particles, and cosmetic products, all of which are fairly simple to break up and remove.
Baking soda and vinegar
Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda, is a common ingredient in baking, but it also works wonders on a clogged drain. When mixed with white vinegar, the baking soda undergoes a chemical reaction, fizzing away within the drain pipes. This then works like other drain cleaners and breaks up any clumps of fat and other debris within the pipes.
To use baking soda to unblock drains, you will need to pour a cup of baking soda down your drain and then pour a cup of vinegar down the drain after it. Leave the mixture for a while (anywhere from 1hr to overnight). When you come back, pour boiling water or very hot water down the drain to flush away any residue and what is left of the drain blockage.
Sometimes you don’t even have to use baking soda and vinegar, and just pouring boiling water down your drain will remove the blockage for you. This works on kitchen sinks more often than anywhere else, as they are often blocked by grease and fat that the boiling water melts within the drain pipe. You can do this regularly to prevent your pipes from becoming clogged, especially in the kitchen sink where food waste is often washed into the drains.
If you have PVC pipes, it is important that you use warm water rather than boiling for this method, as the boiling water can damage your drain pipes.
For outdoor drains, or if none of the natural methods have fixed your drain blockage, there is the option of trying some more technical plumbing methods to unblock your drain that are usually done by blocked drain specialists.
Clean the P-trap
The P-trap is the u-bend underneath a sink, and it is particularly prone to clogs. You can remove this part of the pipe relatively easily, allowing you to take the P-trap away and clean it, removing any clogs within the pipework manually. It is one of the more grim ways to unblock a drain, but it is also one of the most efficient.
To clean your P-trap, make sure you first turn off the water supply to your sink. Then unscrew the elements on either side of the trap, remove it, and take it outside to wash thoroughly with hot water and drain cleaner. Warm water, a hose, and rubber gloves will definitely be needed for this. You might also want to put a bucket underneath the trap as you remove it to protect your floor.
Use a plumber’s auger/drain snake
Augers and drain snakes are very similar, but they are not the same tool. A plumber’s auger is a broader tool designed for use on an external drain like your sewage drain, whereas a drain snake is better for use on internal drains like a toilet, sink, or shower.
If you are using an auger, be sure to remove the drain cover before you try and insert the auger, as you will not be able to insert it otherwise. Use the auger or drain snake by pushing the end into the drain, and then turning it in a clockwise motion until you hit the blockage. The auger or drain snake will then hook onto the blockage and you can pull it out of the drain carefully, without turning the tool.
Use a plunger
Everyone thinks that they know how to use a plunger, but the majority of people are sorely mistaken. To start with, place your plunger in your sink or toilet bowl and ensure that it is covered in water. You should be able to lift and plunge without the after overflowing – if you cannot, remove some water from the bowl. With the plunger at a 90-degree angle, gently begin to plunge, ensuring there is an airtight seal between the plunger and the ceramic. Begin plunging gently, and continue until you feel the blockage moving.
Chemical drain cleaner
You can use store-bought chemical drain cleaner or unblocker to care for and unblock drains, however many of these products are highly concentrated and can actually be corrosive, which means that too much use of the products can cause damage to your drainage system. They are usually safe for use every now and then, but if you find yourself using drain cleaner and unblocker on a regular basis in an attempt to fight blockages, it is likely time to call a professional plumber.
Book and pay for plumbing services
If none of these methods seem to be working to budge the block, or if you’re not confident on doing it yourself then your only option is to call a drainage specialist for a quote. They often have a 24 hour call out so can get it done pretty quickly.