How to Clear Blocked Drains - A Guide by Mr Plumber
Updated: Aug 2
Block drains are one of the most common reasons to call a plumber. From water that won’t drain to foul odours - blocked drains are the root cause of most plumbing issues on your property.
While you can find a lot of information on how to clear blocked drains on the internet, it’s still best to seek the help of a professional plumber to fix the problem. Mr Plumber offers a blocked drain plumbing service 24/7, covering sound east Melbourne suburbs.
For blocked drains call Mr Plumber on 1800 758 623
Blocked drains may seem like a minute problem at first - but they can escalate quickly and result in costly issues such as delayed water drainage, flooding, subsidence, and corrosion.
An even bigger problem is if your house is attached to the external drainage system, water collection in the pipe can rapidly advance to the surrounding floors, which can cause structural damage. This is why when it comes to clearing blocked drains, DIY solutions are not the best options.
Blocked Drain Causes
Blocked drains are nasty but almost inevitable and are one of the most common problems for domestic properties. Some of the blocked drain causes include:
Tree roots and other outdoor trash: Many don’t realise that leaves and other outside debris that are washed and blown into the drain are the most common causes of blocked drains. It usually occurs during stormy weather and gets worse when gutters are dirty - and you have an unkempt garden landscape.
Hair and soap suds: The weight of many drainage issues comes from showers, sinks, and bathtubs - and the two frequent culprits are hair and soap suds. They are the most common blocked drain causes compared to other forms of debris. Whenever you take a bath or wash your hands, the remains can build up in your pipes and cause a slow-running drain or blockage.
Cooking grease and fat: Many people think that cooking grease and fat don’t cause clogged drains since they are liquified when heated, but they are also two of the major causes of pipe blockages. Once grease and fats cool down, they solidify and can cause severe and hard to get rid of blockages.
Although it’s tempting to remove drain blockages yourself, issues like broken pipes, waste build-up, and tree roots require the help of an experienced plumber.
Signs of a Blocked Drain
Knowing the early signs of a blocked drain will help you make the decision to fix the problem before it gets worse. Signs of a blocked drain include:
Foul odour: A stinky drain hole or sink is an early indication that unwanted objects such as hair, paper, and fat have clogged the drain pipes. And when these household matters get stuck in your pipes, they emit a foul odour.
Gurgling noise: When foreign objects get lodged into pipes, water will not drain effectively, producing gurgling sounds, which indicates trapped air.
Slow draining of water: If the water in showers, toilet bowls, baths and sinks is slow to drain, this is a sure sign of a blockage. If not fixed it can cause smelly backwash issues.
How do plumbers unblock drains?
While there are many DIY solutions for simple clogged in your drain, seeking the help of an experienced plumber is still best since they use special tools to unblock drains, such as:
Hydro-jetting tools: Most plumbers use high-pressure jetting for drain cleaning. A hydro-jet is a fast, reliable, and effective way to dislodge stubborn clogs in the drain.
CCTV: Equipment for video pipe inspection helps to identify the major blockage in your drainage and speed up the unblocking process. A miniature camera is inserted into the drains to conduct an exhaustive pipe inspection to identify the real cause of the blockage.
Specialised flange plunger: While this looks similar to your ordinary home plunger, it has a specific shape that helps unblock stubborn clogs. The flange flap attached to the dome of the plunger head is what seals around the opening of a toilet bowl - which results in an extra level of hydraulic pressure that is usually required to dislodge bigger clogs in the drain.
So the next time you have a blocked drain experience, save yourself the hassle of creating DIY solutions and instead call a professional plumber immediately to unclog your drain in no time.
How To Clear Blocked Drains
There are DIY solutions and drain unblocking tips on how to clear blocked drains, such as:
Baking soda, vinegar, and other kitchen ingredients: Most people know the baking soda and vinegar trick. This works by pouring hot water into the drain, and then pouring a solution made of half baking soda and half vinegar. Let the mixture sit for around thirty minutes minutes - then pour hot water down the drain again again to clear the blockage.
Clothes hanger, drain snake, or closet auger: Straighten a clothes hanger and create a little hook at the end that will be used to fish out any obstruction in your drain, or you can also purchase a drain snake or closet auger at your local hardware. These tools can usually go further down the pipe with more flexibility.
Wet & Dry Vacuum: If you have a wet & dry vacuum, you can try to suck the blockage out by using the wet setting and creating a tight seal between the vacuum arm extension and the clogged drain before turning it on.
However, if you experience recurring blockages or slow moving drains, it’s best to contact a plumber right away so the issue can be addressed properly. Ignoring the signs of a clogged drain may lead to bigger and stinkier problems.
What can I pour down a drain to unclog it?
Baking soda and vinegar is an old-school method of unclogging the drain. A mixture of one third of a cup of baking soda and another one third of a cup of vinegar is poured down a clogged drain. Allow the mixture to sit for about an hour before pouring boiling water down the drain to clear it.
Another combination that is commonly used and involves the same process to unclog drains is a mixture of equal parts baking soda and salt. Let it sit for about 30 minutes, and then pour boiling water down the drain.
These are only temporary solutions that you can try when you have a blocked drain emergency, but a plumber is not available. To ensure that the obstruction is permanently removed and there will be no recurring blockages, call a plumber as soon as possible.
How Do You Unblock a Badly Blocked Drain?
For badly blocked drains, simple DIY solutions will not do the trick. Only an experienced plumber will be able to solve severe drain blockages - as they have the necessary tools such as CCTV and hydro-jetting tools. They will also be able to assess if there are any further damages to your pipeline and inform you if repairs are needed.
Who Is Responsible for Clearing a Blocked Drain?
To properly define who is responsible for blocked drains, the landlord and tenant must have a written tenancy agreement that lays down all the ground rules when it comes to maintaining the property.
There are two types of repair - general maintenance and emergency. For emergency repairs like blocked toilets, most legislation obliges the landlord to handle the repair. But if the homeowner is the one that caused the blocked drainage, then they needs to cover the cost of repair. The local council, on the other hand, may be responsible for some drainage issues.
What to Do if Neighbours Drain Is Blocked?
A good relationship with your neighbours can get ruined by problems such as the responsibility of clearing blocked drainage - something that you probably don’t think will happen until it does.
To quickly resolve the issue, you first need to identify whether the blockage is on a private drain or a public sewer. The pipe that exits your property is the drain. When a drain from your property connects with a drain from another property, it leads into a sewer. Sewers can either be private or public, so the responsibility for unblocking them depends on the type of sewer.
If you’ve identified that it is your neighbour's drainage that is blocked, your first option is to negotiate with them. But if no action has been done, you can consult with your local council as they have experience with this kind of concern and may be able to help both parties reach an agreement.
Tips to Fix Slow Moving Drains
Slow moving drains may be fixed by at-home solutions such as:
Pouring boiling water down the drain.
Cleaning the P-trap, a curved part of the pipe that is typically directly below the drain. It is where solids, oils and air get caught.
Using the trusty plunger. A flange plunger offers better suction for toilets, while a plunger with a flat cup is perfect for sinks and tubs.
While the tips above might provide a temporary solution, it’s important to note that a slow moving drain could be a sign of a bigger problem. Hence, calling a plumber is best to ensure that the problem will be fixed properly.
Blocked Stormwater Drains Melbourne
Blocked stormwater drains in Melbourne are common occurrences that can result in a foul smell on your property and cause sewer water to rise to the surface. The foul odour from waste accumulated over the years in the sewer can be unbearable and is also a major helath hazard.
When the first signs of a blocked stormwater drain occur, call a plumber immediately as they have the necessary equipment to handle any type of drainage issues.
How To Clear Blocked Drains Outside
Clearing blocked drains outside our homes is a different story. DIY solutions might not work. You can try to identify the exact location of the blockage and physically remove the debris that you can access or using a drain rod.
Clearing large buildups can be a difficult task - and you’re better off calling your trusted plumber to do the job for you. It will be easier and more efficient for a professional to clear blocked drains outside as they have the experience and necessary tools to get the job done fast.
Drain Cleaning Tips
There are several home remedies you can try, such as caustic cleaners, which help dissolve fat, oils, and grease. There are also natural cleaners such as baking soda and vinegar combined with boiling water.
In cases of severe blockages, excavation may be needed, which involves digging around the drain to fix or replace some pipelines. For damaged pipes due to prolonged blockage, pipe relining is an effective and efficient alternative to complete pipe replacement.
Blocked Stormwater Drain Service
For blocked stormwater drain services, Mr Plumber offers the best practical solutions. We are available 24/7 to attend to any plumbing emergencies you might have. Mr Plumber shows up on time and values honesty and integrity. We will keep you informed throughout the job and - present you with all the options and advise on the best alternatives.
How Much Does It Cost to Unblock a Drain Melbourne?
The cost to unblock a drain varies, depending on several factors such as:
Location and the season
The amount of work required
The severity of the problem
The reason behind the problem
One drain issue may be easier to solve than the other, but one thing is for sure, the cost of not fixing the problem will more likely be higher than the cost of hiring a plumber to fix the blockage.
If a drain blockage is not addressed right away, the cost of not using a professional plumber will likely be more than the cost savings you’ll get from doing it yourself or ignoring the early signs of drain blockage. A drainage obstruction will likely redirect the water and cause other problems, which include low pressure, slow drainage (that can lead to foul odour), backups, and worse flooding.