What do I do if I want to unblock my drain myself?
When your drains become blocked it can be hugely inconvenient and a very stressful time. The most important thing to do is to act quickly before the blockage can grow in size and severity. We highly recommend calling a professional drain engineer to come and take care of the problem for you, although there are ways you can deal with a blockage provided that it is relatively small.
Baking soda is a handy tool that you are guaranteed to have in your kitchen without knowing how useful it can be for unblocking drains. Kitchen drains often become blocked when food waste is incorrectly washed down them. Food substances that are oily, greasy or fatty stick to the walls of the pipes and cause an obstruction easily, and if these substances are regularly washed down the sink then over time the obstruction will increase in size and can cause a great deal of pressure within the pipes. This can lead to serious problems such as a collapsed drain or a burst pipe which is why it is important to take care of your drains and properly dispose of all waste in the bin.
To unblock a sink with baking soda you must first pour a pot of boiling water down the sink. Follow this up with a cup of baking soda and a cup of hot vinegar mixed with water. If you have a cap for the sink plughole, place the cap over the mixture to contain the reaction and make sure it is concentrated only on the blockage.
The chemical reaction between the soda and the vinegar will loosen and dislodge any debris that has been building up on the walls of the drain. Wash this away with another pot of hot water to thoroughly clear the drain. This method can be used as a preventative step also if you want to catch any small blockages that may have started forming before they can severely affect the pipes. It can also be used as a preventative method if you are going away for a short amount of time. The last thing you want when you come home from a holiday is to return to a blocked drain, so once you have poured the soda and vinegar down the drain, leave the mixture to do its work while you are away and upon your return home wash the remnants away with hot water. It is important that this is only done if you are away for a few days as the mixture can damage the drain when left too long.
Toilets can become easily blocked if items such as nappies, baby wipes, and sanitary items are flushed away instead of being thrown in the bin. The materials in these items do not break down quickly enough to be flushed away smoothly with the water, and they can very easily cause your drains to become backed up.
If you suspect that you have a blocked toilet, which you may have noticed because the water level in the bowl rises with each flush, you can use a plunger to move the obstruction. Make sure that the plunger is fitted to the hole at the bottom of the toilet bowl to create the right amount of pressure with which to move the blockage. Gently push and pull the plunger until you know that whatever was blocking the toilet has been loosened.
If you are able to remove it from the bowl with your hands, do so while wearing rubber gloves. You can test how well the blockage has been cleared by placing a single sheet of toilet paper in the water and flushing the toilet, while observing how well the toilet paper flushes. If you do not have a plunger, you may find a wire coat hanger to be very useful. Straighten the wire out until it is one long wire, and carefully insert the wire into the toilet bowl so that it bends around the pipe leading to the chamber. Gently wiggle the wire around if you come across the blockage until you feel it move away from the pipe. It is important to do this step carefully to avoid damaging the drain.