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How to Clear a Blocked Drain
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How to Clear a Blocked Drain

September 14, 2021

A blocked drain can be a nasty problem. You know you have one when your sink or shower starts to back up and water begins to spill onto the floor. This blog post will share many different ways that you can clear a blockage in your plumbing system at home, as well as what happens if you ignore a blockage!

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We’ll also discuss when you should call a plumber and the costs associated with fixing a blocked drain professionally. By following the steps below, you will be ready to fix a blocked drain yourself and prepared with all the information you need should you choose to call for help.  If you need help with blocked drains in Melbourne give us a call.

Are Your Drains Blocked? Look for These 7 Signs to Find Out!

  • Slow draining water – The water in your sink is taking longer than usual to drain. Slow draining water can also occur in the bath, toilet or shower. The shower is often easiest to notice, as water will pool at your feet rather than going down the drain
  • Toilet flush troubles – When you flush your toilet, the bowl either fills up, resulting in higher water levels, or struggles to refill, resulting in lower water levels. Water may also back up into your bath or shower drain when you flush
  • Smelly Drains – A strong, foul smell is coming from your sink, bath, and/or shower
  • Noisy drains – Your drain is making unusual noises, such as bubbling or gurgling sounds
  • Wet walls and floors – There is dampness around your floors and walls. Call a plumber immediately if you notice this problem
  • Green patches in the garden – A patch in your garden is unusually green, lush, raised, or damp. This is probably due to a water leak, often caused by a pipe blockage
  • Stormwater signs – Your stormwater openings are full of water and you notice excess water near stormwater drains

Common Causes of a Blocked Drain

Some of the most common causes of blocked drains include:
  • Invasive tree roots that damage your pipes and continue growing within your drains
  • Excess hair build-up, usually from the shower, bath, bathroom sink, or washing machine
  • Excess toilet paper use, which makes it hard to flush and leads to local drain blockages
  • Pipes that are installed incorrectly or are too small for the system
  • Dirt, debris, leaf, and plant matter build-up, which leads to stormwater drain blockages
  • Build-up of residue, soap scum, and natural minerals in your pipes
  • Pipe damage, which can lead to sagging and obstructions that create a blockage
As well as this, you should make sure that nothing unnecessary goes down your sink or in your toilet. Common items that lead to a blockage include:
  • Baby wipes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Nappies
  • Grease, oil, and fats
  • Food scraps
  • Large chunks of soap
  • Jewellery
  • Toys and other items accidentally dropped by kids
  • Dental floss
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DIY Methods for Fixing a Blocked Drain

Whether you have blocked drains in Epping or Glen Waverley, it’s worth giving the below methods a try. If DIY drain clearing doesn’t work, we highly recommend calling a professional plumber as soon as possible.

How to Clear a Blocked Drain with Baking Soda

To clear your drain using baking soda, follow these steps:
  1. Boil a kettle of water and carefully pour this down the drain
  2. Pour one cup of baking soda down the drain
  3. Create a solution of 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar and pour this down the drain
  4. Put the plug in your drain and wait 10 minutes
  5. To finish, pour more boiling water down the drain

If this process works, the reaction of the vinegar and baking soda, combined with the hot water, will help to loosen the clog and remove the blockage. You should expect to hear a noise in your pipes when the reaction occurs.

How to Clear a Blocked Drain with Boiling Water

You can also try clearing a blocked drain just with boiling water, or a combination of boiling water and dishwashing liquid. This may loosen, dissolve, and clear your blockage. Remember to be careful when dealing with boiling water. Take precautions to avoid splashing and burns.

Note: do not use hot water to clear PVC pipes as this can damage the PVC.

How to Clear a Blocked Drain with a Plunger

To clear a blocked sink, bath, toilet, or shower with a plunger, follow these steps:
  • Add enough water so the plunger can be submerged. If necessary, remove water to prevent overflowing
  • Use a flange plunger for toilets and a cup plunger for other drain types
  • Submerge the plunger in the water and tip it to either side to remove air bubbles
  • Position the plunger vertically and begin plunging up and down for approx. 20 seconds
  • Remove the plunger and clear any debris by hand. Repeat if necessary

How to Clear a Blocked Drain with a Drain Snake

Also known as an auger, a Drain Snake is a specialist tool that snakes down your drain to clear your blockage. You can pick up a Drain Snake from most hardware stores.

To use a Drain Snake, follow these simple steps:
  1. Push the auger into the drain and turn the handle to release the snake
  2. Continue turning the handle until you feel resistance. This indicates that you’ve reached the clog. (Note, you may also experience initial resistance as the snake moves through the bend in your pipe)
  3. Once you reach the clog, continue pushing the snake into the pipe, rotating it as you do. The clog will either clear, allowing the snake to move freely again, or the clog will not clear. In this case, you should retract the snake back up the pipe. The clog has likely lodged itself in the snake and you will pull the clog back up with the snake.

What Are the Best Products to Unclog Drains?

If you would like to use a commercial drain cleaning product, there are several factors to consider.

We recommend looking for a drain cleaner that is non-caustic, biodegradable, and as eco-friendly as possible. You should also look for a cleaner that does not leave a strong chemical smell in your drains.

If you want a completely chemical-free option, consider trying a compressed air drain cleaner. These products dispense compressed air and mimic the effect of a plunger.

Many drain cleaning products are formulated to fight specific types of clogs, such as grease and oil clogs or hair clogs. If you know the exact nature of your blockage, you could try using these specific products.

Some drain cleaners are designed to prevent blockages rather than deal with an existing clog. If you want to prevent a blockage altogether, you can try using these products regularly (as recommended by the packaging).

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Fixing a Blocked Drain – DIY vs Hiring a Professional Plumber

When it comes to a blocked drain, the most important thing to do is act fast. If you ignore a blockage, it will only become harder and more expensive to clear over time.

As well as reducing the effectiveness of your plumbing, a blockage can cause untreated water to back up into your property, which is a significant health risk. Blocked drains can also lead to pipe damage, which can cause leaking, flooding, and significant structural property damage.

While DIY methods can clear your drains, there are several drawbacks. Off-the-shelf drain cleaners often contain chemicals and pollutants that can damage your skin and eyes, as well as the local ecosystem. In some cases, chemical cleaners will make your blockage worse by adding extra residue to the pipes.

Chemical drain cleaners can also damage PVC pipes and older pipes, while boiling water may damage PVC pipes.

It might be time to call that plumber in Epping or Glen Waverley if your DIY efforts haven’t worked. If a clog is stubborn enough or deep enough in your plumbing system, only a professional service will help.

Plumbers utilise CCTV diagnostics to identify the exact cause and location of your blockage, and they can blast the blockage clear using non-invasive hydro jet cleaning. If your pipes have been damaged due to a blockage, a professional plumber can also assist you with pipe and drain repairs. Professional drain unblocking will have longer-lasting results than DIY drain cleaning.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix a Blocked Drain?

If you’re hiring a plumber to unblock your drains, make sure you do your research and find the best price. In general, you can expect to have your drains cleared starting from just $79.

Other fees to consider include hourly charges and callout fees. You should always choose a plumber who offers $0 callout fees. Whether you need a plumber in Greensborough or Heidelberg, this ensures that you don’t need to pay for them to come to your home.

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