How to unblock a drain safely

Blocked drains are one of the most common plumbing emergencies we see; but they don’t have to be. If you’re wondering how to unblock a drain safely, we’ve got you covered. 

We’ve put together a list of maintenance tips to keep your drains clear, as well as warning signs to watch out for. 

What is a blocked drain?

It’s pretty self explanatory but in simple plumbing terms, a blocked drain is an obstruction in your pipes, resulting in a number of negative effects. Common signs of a blockage include a nasty smell (a bit like rotten eggs), gurgling when you run your taps or flush the toilet and slow or no draining of sinks, showers and toilets.

What causes it?

There are a number of ways your drains can end up with a blockage including accumulation of debris (food, hair, waste etc), damaged pipes due to tree roots and old or corroded plumbing systems. Some of these are more simple to fix than others, but we are happy to inspect your plumbing to let you know what you’re dealing with.

How to maintain your drains

  1. Get regular maintenance from the professionals - as we always say in plumbing, prevention is better than the cure. Our friendly team is qualified to conduct regular maintenance on your drains to ensure you don’t end up with a plumbing emergency. We diagnose any issues you may have and provide you with a quote for any repairs or parts so you know the costs up front.
  2. Gentle cleaning - simple household items like vinegar, bicarb soda and hot or boiling water can work wonders. If you’ve got the beginnings of a smelly drain, bicarb soda is a gentle cleaning agent that can help neutralise odours and break down waste. If you suspect you’ve got some food waste building up in your kitchen, a cup of vinegar poured down the sink (with or without the help of bicarb) can help break it down. Leave it for about half an hour and follow it up with a hot water rinse.
  3. Avoid ‘flushable’ products - the general rule of thumb is the only things that should be going down your drain are toilet paper, human waste and water. Anything else (like flushable wipes, baby wipes, feminine hygiene products, bar soap, food, rubbish, hair - just to name a few) is going to cause significant problems. Regardless of whether an item is marketed as flushable, you’re better off staying away from them.
  4. Check your yard - if you’ve got mature, established trees in your backyard, they could well be the cause of your blocked drain issues. Trees that are planted near sewer pipes and plumbing can have devastating effects - roots will always seek moisture so if you’ve any leaking or cracks in your pipes, it won’t take long for the roots to become established and block your pipes. Check for any sinkholes or wet spots in your yard as these are the failsafe signs you’ve got problems.

When to call the experts

If you’ve tried these methods to help keep your drains in top nick but you’re still experiencing any of the following, you’re better off to call us.

  • If your the water isn’t draining from your sink or toilet at all, it’s too late for prevention and you’ll need us to find and fix the cause of the problem
  • If you believe you’ve got a tree root problem as the cause of your blocked drains we can investigate the source of the problem and provide a quote for maintenance or repairs
  • If simple, gentle cleaners aren’t having any effect, there is too much build up or blockage. Don’t worry, we can help.

If you suspect you’ve got a problem with your drains, or just require some regular maintenance our friendly STS team will be happy to inspect, diagnose and quote for all your plumbing needs. Just give us a call!

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