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6 ways to unblock a drain

6 Ways to Unblock a Drain

Here are some tips on how to unblock a drain and save the day:

There’s no doubt about it, blocked drains are one of the most common plumbing issues. You can think of them like the common cold of plumbing; no one wants one. It can hang around for a few days or a week and either be mild as a sniffle or bring down the whole family. The simple fact of life is that if you have drains, you will, at some stage, need to unblock them.

1. Prevention

We all know that prevention is better than cure. Unfortunately, the kitchen sink is one drain that gets easily blocked. It is a magnet for food scraps, toothpicks, steel wool fibres from dish sponges, and even shards of accidentally broken glass that can end up in the kitchen sink. One method to help prevent this is to always try using a drain sieve or strainer to prevent build-up.

In the bathroom, after showering, be sure to collect any hair that’s lodged in the drain, and remember –action figures, cosmetics, and dental floss aren’t made for flushing! It’s worth keeping a small wastebasket beside the loo for all other sanitary, cosmetic, and grooming product waste. The last thing you want is a blocked toilet drain that doesn’t flush.

2. The hot water method

Pouring hot water can help dislodge fat and food scraps from the kitchen drain. Of course, boiling water can help loosen and melt gunk, holding a clog together. Although, it’s not always helpful. This method won’t stand up to more serious blockages, especially if your drain is clogged with items like grease, oil, dirt, or hair-boiling water isn’t likely to help. Be aware that when pouring hot water, this can push the clog deeper into your pipes, making the clog more difficult to reach.

When using hot water, the usual safety rules apply here –don’t burn yourself with boiling water, or you’ll need a doctor as well as a plumber.

3. Plunger

Pump up the jam 80s style with a plunger –every household needs one, and you can even play Techtronics tunes as you work. Sometimes the tried-and-true methods are still the best. That’s why every house should invest in a plunger. Plungers work by either pushing air down or sucking it up, hopefully dislodging whatever surprises are lurking there. Try this before putting any chemicals down the sink, or there’s no guarantee what you will be resurrecting.

4. Bicarb and Vinegar

Bicarb and vinegar –this simple home remedy is effective and environmentally friendly. All you need to do is put one cup of baking soda (bicarb soda) down the blocked drain, then one cup of vinegar, stand back, and watch it fizz. For less of a Broadway show, pop the plug over the sinkhole.

All you need to do then is leave it for around 10-15 minutes to do its work, and then clean the drain with hot water. Why this works -as bicarb soda and vinegar react, they fizzle and expand. The pressure from the expanding mixture pushes the clog down as it moves along. The solution also helps to remove soap scum that often sticks to drains.

5. Drain Auger –aka “Snake”

A drain auger, otherwise known as a plumber’s snake or an electric eel, is a bit like a colonoscopy for your drains. This contraption will dislodge or break up fibres, snag lightweight materials, and scrape clean the pipe walls.

You may need to augur the drain a few times until the clog is gone. You can test this by running water to tell if your drain is still clogged. Only try this method if you are confident in using machinery-otherwise, it’s worth calling in a professional.

6. U-Bolt Method

Perhaps it’s time to chuck a U-bolt. Grab a bucket and position it under the u-bend drain under the sink, unscrew the connections, and dislodge any build-up in the pipe. As grease, debris, and other gunk can block this section of your pipe. However, there may be some mess or splashback, so we don’t recommend wearing your Sunday best for this activity!

Bonus: Drano and chemicals

The most common chemicals used to unblock sinks are Drano, hydrochloric acid, or caustic soda. Chemical drain cleaners can be effective at removing even the toughest clogs. They come in different forms, such as powder, liquid, or gel, so be sure to buy one that best suits your situation.

The general rule of thumb is to pour in the chemical, chill for 15-30 mins (as the instructions will state), and follow with cold water, I repeat, cold water.

Health and safety are important here –don’t touch your eyes or leave them where your kids or pets can access them.


If you need professional help –we are here!
While these methods will often suffice to get you out of a jam (err, clog), some clogs are stubborn and need the attention of a professional plumber. If your drain is still blocked after trying our recommended methods, don’t hesitate to call us at Flowtec Plumbing and Gas 24-7 – Adelaide. We got you covered.

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