There are probably few household problems more annoying than a blocked drain. They happen seemingly for no reason, smell terrible and, if left too long, can cause costly structural damage to your home. The good news is that, most of the time, they can be sorted out quickly and easily. The simplest method to unblock a drain is to pour boiling water down it. This will help dissolve any grime and shift any loose blockages to help clear the drain.
If pouring boiling water down the drain doesn’t work, the next thing you should do is try and locate the source of the problem so you can attack it more directly. If the block is in an external drain, check with your neighbors to see if they also have a problem. If it’s just you, then you know it’s your responsibility to sort out. It can sometimes help to know what caused the problem – for example, has it been caused by dishwasher soap, leaves or food?
Once you’ve established what your problem might be, you could try using a plunger and hook to dislodge the problem. This is a particularly good way of shifting blockages in bathroom drains or minor external blocks. Use the plunger to displace whatever the problem is, then use a metal hook to fish out anything that won’t move by itself. Be careful not to damage any pipes while you’re doing this. If you don’t have a hook, try using the end of a clothes hanger.
For more stubborn blockages, it’s recommended to use caustic soda. This comes in crystal form and is also known as soda crystals or sodium hydroxide. Wear plastic gloves and goggles when using it as it’s highly corrosive and could damage your clothes or skin. Follow the instructions on the packet and pour the soda down the drain where it should dissolve the blockage and allow whatever was stuck to move on and the problem to dissipate.
You could also use specialist drain cleaners here, or thick bleach.
If none of these methods have worked to unblock your drain, it might be time to call in a plumber. If the blockage is bad, they can insert a camera into the drain to check the problem and make sure there’s no structural damage. Of course, though, prevention is always better than cure, so make sure to keep your external drains clear of leaves and other debris on a regular basis and keep an eye of your interior drains so if you see them getting blocked you can act early.
*Disclaimer* This information should be used as a guide only and should not be relied upon as the sole source of information on this issue. We cannot be held responsible for any loss, inconvenience, damage (whether special or consequential) or claims arising out of the use of this information.