Unclogging a blocked drain | DIY Plumbing Advice

Clearing a blocked drain in the bathroom

Who has not had the wonderful experience of standing ankle deep in water while taking a shower? This is a good indication that your bathroom drain is in the process of clogging up, and taking a few preventive steps can keep the drain clear and save you the expense of having to call in a professional plumbing service to clear the drain blockage for you.

How a shower drain works

Clogged or blocked drain in the showerMost drains around your house share a common design. Usually, there will be some sort of curve at the bottom of the drainpipe, which is called a trap. This trap is there to hold a little bit of water, which prevents smelly sewer gases from coming up the pipe and stinking up your home. One side effect of this design is that given enough time, hair and soap scum will collect to the point of clogging the drain. The first indication is water running of slowly, until that flow stops completely and you are left with a totally clogged drain.

Different techniques to clear a blocked drain

Now, before calling in a qualified plumber, there are a couple of steps you can take in clearing a drain. While the first few typically require items found in any home, the last few require special tools that are part of any plumber’s equipment yet not commonly found in your home.

Technique 1: Fishing out the clog

Tools required: flashlight, coat hanger or tweezers, perhaps gloves
The first and most obvious way of clearing out a blockage, is to have a look into the drain and see what is blocking it. Take a flashlight, and get a good look into the drain. Sometimes, you can actually see hair and soap scum right at the bottom of the drain, which means you can reach in an pull the block out. You can use tweezers or a coat hanger to pull out the block, and it may be advisable to put on a pair of rubber gloves. Once the block is out, run some water to check that the water is now running of freely.

Technique 2: Using a plumber’s helper

Plunging a blocked drain

Tools required: Plunger, small towel or cloth or some duct tape
A plunger is probably the first tool a professional plumber will use in trying to unclog a drain. Learning to use a plunger correctly can save you time and money. Following, instructions on how to use a plunger like a professional plumber.
First, you will need to have enough water in the bath or shower to cover the bottom of the plunger. This will allow you create the suction needed. Next, block the overflow outlet either with a small rag, or tape it shut with some good quality duct tape. Now put the plunger on the drain, and push down vigorously for five or six times. The pressure you are creating through this action should open up the pipe again and allow the water to drain. Once you lift the plunger, the water you have in the bath will either flow out freely or still stand. If it runs off freely, well done. If not, plunge again and see if that clears it up.

Technique 3: Chemical attack

Tools required: Professional drain cleaner or Coke
You can use certain chemicals to clear a drain, yet it is generally not recommended. While it may be very easy, these chemicals are highly acidic. Not only are drain cleaners very damaging to the environment, but when used incorrectly, they can lead to an acid splash-back that ends up leaving burns on your hands or face. In fact, no professional plumber of any repute will use chemicals to clear a drain.
As an alternative to chemicals, you could also use Coca Cola. The acid in Coke can help dissolve a blockage. Pour a 2-liter bottle carefully into the drain, let the foam subside, and then allow the coke to sit in the drain overnight. Run some hot water in the morning for 5-10 minutes, and repeat the process if necessary.

Professional Technique 4: Using a plumber’s snake

Tools required: Plumber’s snakePlumber's Snake to clear clogged drain
If none of the above techniques managed to unblock your drain, it is time for the professional tool: a plumber’s snake. This is a long flexible steel cable wound on a handle, which can be fed down the drain and rotated to pull out or dislodge a clog. A plumber’s snake is the tool a professional will use as a last resort, and it is important that it is used correctly. If used incorrectly, you can end up damaging the pipes or another part of your plumbing system, leading to costly repairs. If none of the 3 techniques worked, it is in your best interest to call in a professional plumbing service to fix the problem.

Contact Laws Plumbing

If the above techniques did not fix your problem, it is time to call in a professional plumber. Call us directly on 078 225 9939 or send us a quick message and we will get back to you

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