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Blocked Drains

Skill Level: Beginner

Introduction

Blocked Drains! Drains that become blocked are one of those jobs around the house disliked and to be avoided wherever possible. But unfortunately, once you have a blocked drain it’s hard to avoid putting it off for any amount of time. Drains are the means by which waste and dirty water is conveniently removed from our home. For this reason it makes sense to give some thought to occasional maintenance. Blockages build up and become compacted which can eventually lead to more far more difficult situations; more difficult to clear, more unpleasant to clear, and more expensive to clear.

 

Blocked drains can occur in the kitchen, bathroom, or toilet

Blocked drains can occur in the kitchen, bathroom, toilet, or underground pipe work outside the home. A blocked drain can be easy and quick to clear, or can be a longer, messier job. Nevertheless, there are a few steps we can take ourselves before reaching for the phone to call in outside help.

It could be easy to clear

Blocked drains in the kitchen can sometimes be cured by a couple of spoonfuls of caustic soda. Please read the instructions carefully as this substance can be harmful if not used correctly.  If that doesn’t work the next step is to try a good old-fashioned plunger. The trick with plungers and many people don’t know this; is to block off the sink over-flow with a piece of cloth, and then plunge. You may have to do this a few times until the blockage clears, but this age old method is still very often the only thing needed.

 
If the blockage has resisted all efforts so far then the next step is to clear some space underneath the sink, unscrew the trap, and clear out the offending materials which are causing the blockage.

 

Blocked toilets

Blocked toilets are also a common drainage problem. If the toilet isn’t flushing away properly then it needs to be dealt with immediately in order to avoid unpleasant overflows. 
 
If the toilet will not flush after a few attempts, allowing a minute or so between flushes; then its time to explore other avenues, and roll your sleeves up. There are on the market, larger types of plungers, specifically designed for toilet bowls. They are simply pushed down into the bend of the toilet bowl and operated in the same way as the smaller, kitchen type plunger. These are very effective and very often will clear the blockage, but it may take a bit of practise to get the hang of it. If this doesn’t work then its time to get serious, and bring in more specialist equipment!

When a Plunger Does'nt Clear the Blockage

Blocked drains that have become solid and stubbornly resist repeated flushes and plunging attempts may be more susceptible to a WC auger. An auger is a flexible cable that is pushed down and into the bend of the toilet bowl, and is cranked by a handle which pushes the cable end further into the toilet; hopefully, breaking up and clearing the blockage.
 
So far, we have covered “things” we can do internally to try to clear a blocked drain. It could be that the blockage is on the outside! Where all other means prove ineffective, then it’s probably time to check outside; the last thing we can realistically do ourselves before calling in expert advice.

Is the Problem Outside?

So far, we have covered “things” we can do internally to try to clear a blocked drain. It could be that the blockage is on the outside! Where all other means prove ineffective, then it’s probably time to check outside; the last thing we can realistically do ourselves before calling in expert advice.
 
The first to do is locate and lift the cover from the manhole; this will be located somewhere on your property, in the back garden, perhaps along the side of the house; or it could even  be outside your boundary. You’ll need a set of drain rods (hired, borrowed or purchased) for this next bit. Screw a couple of rod sections together with either a cork screw or plunger type head, and slide it into the drain run, following the flow of the waste water. Screw additional sections of rod together and work the assembled sections back and forth, pushing it further into the drainage system.

Check the Soil Stack

If the man-hole is not the problem; it could be the soil stack is blocked up. To check if this is the case, undo a rod eye on the stack, and use an auger to check for, and clear any blockage ( as described above )
 
Blocked gullies around drains can be easily cleared by (rubber gloved) hand, and are easily accessible for regular debris clearance. Keep these clear at all times and try to prevent loose debris, such as leaves lying in there for any amount of time; gradually falling and being washed into the drainage system, causing problems at a later date.

Tools you will need:

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