Experiencing a blocked drain, usually at the most inconvenient times, is a disruption to our lives and can happen in several ways. Typically, it’s when we least expect it. For example, early in the morning when we prepare for work and jump in the shower to find that the outlet is blocked as the water backs up on the bathroom floor.
We may be tempted to try some DIY, but where are we going to start, or what if we can’t reach the blockage? What kind of equipment or materials do we need? Non-DIY people can skip on to number eight below, which provides a permanent solution, but first, let’s see what we can do:
1. Hot Water
Oddly enough hot water is the first choice, at least in the kitchen because fat from cooking is the number one cause for a blocked drain in the Kitchen. This treatment can also be effective against soap residue in the bathroom. This quick and easy fix is pouring at least a liter of boiling water down the drain should be the first call.
2. Vinegar and Baking Soda
A quick search of many kitchens will uncover the best home ingredients for the second attempt. The steps and cautions are important so you should check the details here vinegar and baking soda. This requires a little more work as clearing the standing water is important or perhaps the morning after or removing the U-bend is enough to let standing water drain.
3. Manual Suction
Suction is a good option and a simple bathroom plunger often gets the job done, applying a little petroleum jelly to the edge provides a stronger seal for those harder to break blockages. If the clog backs up into the sink then clear it, don’t wash it back down as the more that is cleared can help subsequent attempts. Do not worry about damaging the pipe using a regular household plunger it will not create excessive suction.
4. Chemicals (many people start here)
It may take a trip to the store for the next try which is to use Chemical Drain Cleaners and the linked local review will give some good suggestions. How to do this will be on the packet and not covered here. Only a quick warning steps 1-3 do not mix with CDC as plungers, for example, could cause a backsplash into the room or the vinegar and soda could produce an undesirable effect. Even the water used to flush these should only be warm or cold water not hot!
There are not many more home remedies but a Drain Snake is the last tool you might easily keep around the house. Essentially this is a piece of wire with barbs which is pushed down into the drain and through the blockage which is then dragged back by the hooks or barbs to grab the clog to remove it. A wire coat hanger can also be unraveled and using its hook has proven to be quite effective.
6. Powered Suction
Some homes will keep a wet and dry vacuum which can be used for this stage, check the user manual if not sure you can, again like the home plunger a home vacuum will not have enough suction to cause damage to the pipes. You need to have a length of hose that fits inside your drain, not exactly a little wiggle room is needed, to move it around and bring it to the blockage. Resistance will be felt as the pipe meets the blockage as it is pushed into the drain pipe. Then just turn it on and it will suck the blockage out. The sound will change from a blocked suction pipe to hollow as it clears!
7. More Powered Option
Renting machines is the final option before calling a professional, perhaps an upgraded suction machine of a compressed air blower both will come with instructions and perhaps safety gear, but certainly, for this author, this is going too far? Unless familiar with these machines number eight is your best bet.
8. Let’s Call the Professionals (A few People will start here)
This is where some individuals would start because time is pressing and attempting all of the above may not be worth theirs. In order to determine exactly the source of the blockage, Total Relining Solutions recommend a drain inspection to identify exactly the cause of the blockage. This is a good example of a professional team offering to beat every price or no payment! They will use the approach that is most appropriate for the issue. To clear out the blockage, then it could be a simple case of plunging or using an acid wash. Otherwise, they might use a high-pressure water jet. Unless the blockage is due to a larger issue, such as tree roots or broken pipes, then they will reline the pipes to fix the problem permanently.
Like other plumbers, they will have tools but the first and most important tool is the camera because unlike the best plumbing professionals they will not be guessing why the drain is blocked they will snake a camera down the drain and record a video. It may very well be that the steps above will work and if it is a quick visit is only needed. However, high-pressure, compressed air, drain cleaners are better handled by a professional. Who unlike the DIY enthusiasts in step seven above won’t have blown the problem further down the pipe to resurface sometime soon!
Using a camera finds the true issue and provides opportunities for prevention and reoccurrence. This is the kind of service designed by people who are not looking for repeat business unless it’s on another drain or location. They might even reline your 50-year-old iron pipes with other innovative technology that can easily be brought to the home and avoids excavation or digging old pipes out of walls. Whatever the solution it could save a lot of time!