It happens to the best of us: one minute the shower is working fine, and the next, you’re standing in two inches of water that just won’t drain. Or perhaps you’ve attempted to flush your toilet and ended up watching the water spill out and onto the bathroom tiles.
Whether it’s a toilet, a bath, or a sink, clogged drains can be a headache to deal with. It’s important, however, not to reach out to the nearest plumber or drainage company right away, as the problem may be diagnosable and even treatable by yourself.
Our handy information guide will walk you through tackling even the toughest of blockages without risk of damaging pipes or fixtures.
Depending on where your drain is located, you’ll find yourself approaching the unclogging process a little differently. You’ll first want to figure out the cause of your blocked drain.
With baths, for example, clogs result from several weeks’ worth of build-up of hair and organic residue, leading to a draining process that gets slower and slower until the drain is completely clogged. Other clogs are less gradual: flushing a foreign object like a child’s toy or a sanitary product down the toilet can instantly block it.
Figuring out the best possible causes for your blocked drain will help you determine the best method to approach your problem. And whatever the cause is, we recommend that you begin by…
Dealing with a clogged bath or shower? Unscrewing the drain screen and fishing around with a coat hanger or crochet hook usually does the trick – you can try the same on your toilet as well.
Simply straighten out a wire coat hanger and wrap the end with a rag, securing it with tape. This ensures that when you’re digging around in your drain, you don’t scrape the insides of the fixture and leave behind scratches. A pair of gloves are optional, but definitely recommended.
A crochet hook will do the job, as well, though this will work only for short, straight fixtures with the obstruction located in the first few inches of the drainpipe. Going at it with a hook is a simple, but usually effective way to clear surface-level clogs, and it can be done without risk of scratching.
So, you’ve poked around the drain already. If nothing’s come out or up, you could suppose that the clog is located way past your reach. In this case, it’s time to…
They’re a common enough feature in your bathroom, but did you know you can use plungers for more than just your loo? No matter where your drain clog is located, breaking out this handy tool can often solve the problem. So, grab that plunger, a pair of rubber gloves, and some towels (for absorbing water that may spill out), and get pumping!
If you’re dealing with a double-bowl kitchen sink or a bath sink, first partially fill the sink with water, and then, for a double-bowl sink, completely stop the unclogged drain opening, or, for a bath sink, stuff a rag into the overflow hole; in both cases, these stoppering methods will help apply direct pressure to the clog, allowing it to wiggle its way free.
Begin with a gentle plunge to apply a seal over the drain; beware of a forceful first plunge, which will push air back around the seal and splash water all over you – not fun at all, we can assure you.
After this initial plunge, begin vigorous in-and-out plunges for 10-20 strokes, if necessary. This pushes water both directions in the drain, which should loosen most clogs.
You’ve finished plunging now, but to no avail. It may be time to…
Use a cable auger (or drain auger) to dislodge clogs positioned farther down the drainpipe. Chances are, you don’t have one of these lying about your house (and if you do, more power to you!). You can purchase a cable auger relatively cheaply online, but if you’re looking to go the DIY route or avoid damaging your fixtures, it’s worth noting that you can make your own. Follow this link for a simple tutorial to make your own auger with little more than stainless steel cable and needle nose pliers.
Whether you use a shop-bought or homemade cable auger, make sure you wrap the end with a small cloth – you always want to avoid accidentally damaging the inside of fixtures.
So, you’ve got your cable auger now. In this informative YouTube video, this lady shows you how to use this nifty device easily to clear toilet clogs, but her methods can be used for virtually any other drain.
When you’re finished with the auger, flush the toilet or pour hot water down the drain to clear out leftover debris and make sure the clog is really and truly gone.
If you’ve gotten this far and the blockage has been removed, hooray! If not, don’t worry. It may be time to put away the plumber’s tools and try out…
Don’t let the word ‘chemicals’ put you off; sometimes they can be the most effective at clearing away all drainage problems. Still unconvinced? Then just know that many drain cleaners come with child-safety caps to prevent unfortunate accidents.
A good drain cleaner to begin with is Domestos, which takes just 15 minutes to eliminate pesky blockages. Not only that, but it can destroy any germs breeding in and odours coming from the clog, especially those in sinks and pipes. But best of all? It’s safe to use in all pipes.
To use, empty the whole bottle into the sink or pipe. In the kitchen, where you’re more likely to find clogs stemming from grease build-up or vegetable blockages, expect to leave the cleaner to work from 15 minutes, to as long as two hours. Pour hot water into the pipe when the blockage is cleared to sweep away remaining debris.
For a gentle, but just as powerful (and nicer-smelling) alternative, turn to Ecozene’s drain unblocker, whose advanced formula contains natural enzymes that will clear most anything, from soap, grease, and hair, to toilet paper and food products. Simply leave the product in the clogged drain overnight to let these enzymes really work.
Another natural method involves products you can definitely find around your house. We’re entering into fuzzy territory here, as some people swear by all-natural products for unclogging drains, while others are absolutely opposed to it. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try, especially when dealing with small, manageable clogs owing to grease build-up.
One simple solution uses just vinegar, baking soda, and boiling hot water. What the helpful man in the video doesn’t show, but what we recommend, is the pouring of boiling hot water before anything else, which helps loosen up grime before the vinegar-baking soda treatment. After this, just pour some baking soda into the drain or toilet bowl to further thin out filth, and then some vinegar. Finish it off with boiling water to rinse away the last of the grease residue.
The above methods will probably clear your drain and protect your fixtures and pipes from any forceful damage. If, however, for whatever reason that blockage stubbornly remains, reach out to our friendly and professional team and we’ll solve the issue for you.