If you’ve noticed an odd smell or water not draining away properly, all signs point to a blocked drain. This article will provide a helpful guide to clearing blocked drains around the house.
Sometimes it can be easy to forget about drains, hidden below out of sight, they are efficiently designed to deal with waste. Then they suddenly start to smell or work slowly and you’re immediately very aware of them. Fortunately there are plenty of simple ways to unblock drains and even simpler preventative methods.
Drain Cleaning Tools
Before you can start unblocking drains, you need some tools to do so. Most of these are cheap, simple, and readily available from hardware stores.
- Plungers are great for bulky, not-too-strong clogs. Keep a separate one for the toilet.
- Barbed plastic drain tools are long, flexible-yet-rigid plastic strips with a series of swept-back barbs along the length. When stuck down the drain and drawn out, it removes hair and other blockages along with it. It works best on strong clogs near the drain mouth.
- The wire snake and plumbers snake function similarly to a barbed tool. A wire snake can easily be made from a wire coat hanger (see our key steps) and professional plumbers snakes can be brought from hardware stores. The professional snake is more flexible and longer reaching.
- Finally, if you have a wet/dry vac with a blow function, it can be used similarly to a plunger by creating a seal and turning the blower mode off and on repeatedly. Do not leave it running a long time, as this could damage the pipes or the vacuum.
How to Unblock Drains – Methods to Try
- Plunging: Fill the sink enough to cover its floor and the drain. Press the plunger down firmly over the drain to form a tight seal, and thrust it quickly up and down several times without breaking the suction.
- Though both can be used on their own, the plunger can be used to bring deeper blockages within range of a wire snake, where they can be hooked.
- Boiling water: If the blockage is grease-based, pouring a large quantity of boiling water down may be sufficient on its own. This can however cause larger grease blockages to be flushed further down where they’re harder to reach.
If none of this works and problems persist, call a plumber.