How To Unblock A Drain

How To Unblock A Drain: The Ultimate Guide

How to unblock a drain is one of the most common searches on the internet. And with good reason: drain unblocking issues are time consuming, stressful and inconvenient. So if you have one, you want to learn how to fix it ASAP.

There are a number of potential solutions. From "natural" methods to unblock congested drains, such as the use of common household items, to plumbing gadgets which claim to clear clogs, and caustic chemicals. Then there are the more obvious solutions, like calling a blocked drain plumber.

So without further ado, we’ve put together the definitive list of ways to unblock your drain. We have 15+ years of experience with plumbing and drains. This means we not only know the best ways to unclog a blockage, but we’ll help separate the fact from the fiction, and bust a few myths around blocked drains. Here are a few options most of us have tried...before finally calling the plumber!

Non-Chemical And Natural Methods To Unblock Your Drain

With our greater understanding of our impact on the environment, why not try a non-chemical approach to unclogging a drain? Simply reach into most kitchen cupboards and throw a bottle of vinegar in, with some baking soda? Or perhaps a kettle of hot, soapy water? What about a 2 litre bottle of cola?

If you don’t mind the smell and the delay in sorting out the blocked drain, these are often recommended solutions. If only they worked. Alas, not only is any edible item not likely to unclog a drain, but it could also add more mass to the already blocked area, to be eventually cleared. According to Australian Government research, when clearing a congested drain, they strictly advise against the use of such items in blocked areas.

Using A Coat Hanger Down Your Drain

If you're wondering how to unblock a drain, clearing it with a coat hanger sounds easy enough. Take an ordinary coat hanger, usually the metal type, and fashion an implement to poke around the blockage to clear the obstacle.

There are a couple of problems with this method, apart from the fact that many modern coat hangers are made from plastic and could break off in the drain. Even if you have a metal coat hanger lying about, it’s difficult unwinding strongly wound metal to create a pole. This unwieldy wire can easily spring back unexpectedly and catch the eye.  If it isn’t unwound, the coat hanger remains short and cannot effectively reach down to dislodge a deeply entrenched drain obstacle. As it was not designed for this purpose and can cause damage to porcelain and scratch metal.

The purpose of this method is to mimic plumbing rods. But of course, real plumbing rods are engineered to glide over the areas they touch; and are super strong and flexible. They can lock together to create any length required and don’t cause any damage. So, they can be inserted to any depth of drain required... unlike a coat hanger.

Use A Plunger To Unblock It

A good old-fashioned plunger, they’ve been around for decades. It’s a low-cost way of using suction to dislodge a blockage.  If you have a plunger, and you have a pair of over the elbow-high rubber gloves in the house it might be worth a try. As long as you don’t mind getting up close and personal with bacteria and other microbes.

If it does work, keep a large bucket handy to place the dislodged blocked item, along with any tissue, hairs and slime into. Remember too, that if you do manage to clear the pipe, the pressure build-up can cause some, "splash back". So protect your face from a potential shower of germs, and wear goggles and a face mask!  Also, if the blockage is harder to clear, or inaccessible due to being further down the pipe, this won’t work.

Unblock A Drain With A Plumber’s Auger

Cleaning implements such as the toilet snake (also known as a flexible auger or plumbing jack), has become another product widely used to try to dislodge a clog in a drain. It's based on the concept of an amateur version of the Plumbing Rods professional plumbers use.

In theory this pipe will travel down pipes dislodging debris. But there are different types of snakes for different types of materials. This is noteworthy if you don’t want to see your porcelain scratched or cracked. Or your kitchen sink is blocked, this will require a different piece of equipment, shorter for this use. These are different to the toilet or shower, requiring their own length of accessories. Also, there will be some wrangling and tightening of the thumbscrew to grab the obstruction itself.  If it's unable to grab the offending item, it could move the blockage down even further, causing a bigger plumbing problem.

Then too is the important matter of cleaning and disinfecting the snake device. Since it has been immersed in human waste and germs, handling and storing the pipes and attachments can present a hygiene issue. Especially at this era of COVID-19, when hygiene is more important than ever!

Strong Caustic Chemicals Like Drano To Unblock A Drain

They are sold everywhere, and marketed as a quick, clean solution to any blocked drain: strong chemicals, caustic soda, “Drano” and other chemical drain cleaners. Often emblazoned with hazardous symbols and small print warnings, chemical unclogging agents are seen as the quick and sanitized "fix" for a blockage in pipes.

In fact, they are anything but.

These agents are dangerous, and environmentally destructive, and should be seen as a last option to dislodging a blocked drain.  Some of these chemicals are so strong they can cause irritation and even damage the lungs and eyes. Due to the dangerous nature of these chemicals, it’s vital you wear appropriate protective equipment. For example, the Australian Government estimates around 90% of chemical burns to the eye are avoidable by wearing safety goggles, specialist eyewear and face shields, not just prescription glasses or contact lenses. How many people, when handling strong chemicals to unblock a pipe, cover their eyes this thoroughly? It only takes a splash of some chemicals to cause serious problems, even causing chemical burns to the skin!

In terms of your home plumbing, these pungent chemicals can melt pipework too, causing a bigger plumbing problem. Many of these chemicals cannot move a stubborn blockage. But they can cause hazardous chemicals to sit in front of the blockage, until a plumber is finally called. That's when they can cause a nasty surprise for the poor tradesman that has to deal with it. So, in conclusion, the truth about these chemical drain cleaners is that they are damaging to humans (and pets too!), destructive to the environment and discouraged by plumbers.

The Tried And True Method To Unblock A Drain: The Humble Plumber

Wondering how to unblock a drain quickly, with minimal hassle? We believe that, whilst there are many kinds of tricks and tips to the problem of clear pipes and drains, all with varying degrees of success, there is no replacement for a good old, qualified plumber. Obviously, we are biased here. But we do have the experience to back up our recommendation.

Whilst having a blocked drain may be troublesome and unexpected, it doesn’t have to be so time consuming or stressful, if you call a licensed plumber. Calling a qualified Plumber saves time and energy and could even save you money too.  Plumbing Inspires us, at Inspired Plumbing. Not only fixing all kinds of leaks, but prevention too. We also offer plumbing safety inspections, and services to clear blocked pipes.

Using the latest plumbing technology, CCTV pipe tracking and trained and insured plumbers, we offer a range of services, and have straightforward, flat rate pricing which allows us to give a total cost upfront inclusive of GST - so there will be no surprises with your bill. We also guarantee all of our work, so trust us to take the pressure and stress of unblocking a drain 24/7.

How to Find the Best Local Plumber

When things go wrong

We often take our home plumbing system for granted, unless you suddenly need a local plumber to fix something urgent. Most of the time, you're not even thinking about the plumbing in your home. Clean water comes in. Wastewater goes out. Nothing to it, right? Wrong! Did you realise that a blocked drain or a burst pipe can damage the very walls and foundations of your home? Much of the pipework is under floors or behind walls. Hence, a leak may not immediately be apparent and can go on for months if not checked.

A blocked toilet can spill over and cause raw sewage to enter your home. Gastroenteritis. E. Coli, Salmonella, and Hepatitis are just some of the possible health hazards. The Australian Government Health Department lists many more diseases caused by contact with sewage. Highlighted as one of the main culprits, are blocked or overflowing toilets.

Many people don't realise that water heaters pose a threat of explosion if not properly checked and maintained. Regular hot water checks and maintenance by a licensed local plumber could literally save your life.

The old saying goes "It's better to be safe than sorry". Stay safe. Contact a licensed plumber today to ensure your system is not a health hazard.

Where can I find a licensed local plumber?

The go-to place to find a local licensed plumber is Google. You can look it up on your home computer or your phone. Make sure the location setting is on so that you can find one "Near you".

Google allows you to check plumber reviews so you can make a choice based on what other people have experienced. You can even check responses from the company to a review. In this way, you can determine for yourself whether the review was fair. Google makes it so easy to compare plumbers too. Before you even click on a site, you can see clearly what the star rating is. Google will let you know the opening hours, contact information and even give you directions so that you will know how far the plumber has to travel to get to you. There is a question and answer section, or you can simply click on the 'Website' button to go straight to the company.

Find a local plumber with Google on your mobile

On a mobile device, Google is particularly helpful as it enables you to bring the information with you. For example, imagine you have a leak, and you can't find the water mains to switch the water off. You simply use google to contact the plumber of your choice. They will then be able to suggest places to look and talk you through it. It could be night time, with the water mains located outside. You can use your torch facility to find it whilst you continue talking to the plumber. Or you may have problems with your boiler. You can send photos to confirm what and where the problem is to gain more accurate advice. You can even use the video facility to show the plumber the problem.

When the job is complete, you can write your review direct on Google. In this way, it enables other people to gain insight about the company from your personal experience.

Other ways to find a local plumber

Another way to find a good plumber is to ask other people such as friends or relatives if they can recommend someone. Recommendation from someone who has used the company before is always a good choice. Ask them what the rates were and whether they were happy with the standard of work. It's also a good idea to ask how responsive the plumber was and if he is licensed.

You can check local papers, community boards and yellow pages too. However, if you are going to use any of these, you will need to do your research well in advance. You don't want to be rushing off to check the local community board when you have a bust pipe and can't find the water main. Imagine trawling through yesterdays' trash looking for the local paper hoping to find a plumber in an emergency.

Yellow pages, community boards, and local papers can be very time consuming. With Google, you have all the information you need right at your fingertips. You are just a couple of clicks away from selecting a good plumber 'Near you'.

Don't wait for a plumbing emergency. Get your system checked today!

Scheduled services and maintenance

Regularly scheduled maintenance of the plumbing system is often not considered a priority. You may feel you can't afford it. But can you afford to repair the damage to your home if the tank explodes? Not to mention the possible health and safety implications to you and your family.

Have you noticed that a plumbing breakdown occurs at the most inconvenient times? Lack of clean water can seriously affect the health and safety of your family. Proper sanitation is imperative, and especially so since the COVID 19 global pandemic. We use our home plumbing system all day, every day. Hence, it's essential to keep it in good working order.

Home plumbing is integral to the comfort and safety of the home. We take for granted that when we turn on the shower, we can enjoy a warm stream of cleansing water. Likewise, on a hot summer day, we simply turn on the tap for a glass of cold refreshing water. We keep our homes clean and safe by means of our plumbing system. And when we've finished cleaning, it takes all the wastewater away, to keep our home a safe and sanitised place.

Large plumbing company vs small company

Is there any difference in using a large company over a small local plumber? There are a few things to take into consideration when comparing the two. A larger company will likely have larger premises from which to operate. The bigger the workforce, the more wages they will have to pay, plus sick pay and annual leave. If they lease fleet vehicles, that's an additional cost. However, if they own them, they will need to be maintained and regularly serviced. The more fleet vehicles there are, the bigger the service bill. A large company will often pay for expensive advertising campaigns which can be very expensive. Hence they often have the vehicles branded with their logo at an extra cost. To keep track of business matters, many pay for very expensive computer systems too. The hardware and software have to be paid for as do additional staff to operate them.

Large company, large overheads.

You may be thinking, 'with all these overheads, it's a wonder the larger company's make a profit at all'. How can they afford to stay in business? The answer is simple. They pass these overheads on to you, the customer. So when you pay your bill, you're not just paying for the plumbers time and parts. You're paying for the fleet vans, the advertising, the workwear, the premises, the computer systems and software.

It's so easy for customers to become depersonalised with a larger company. You may find the plumber who comes to your home, is not the same one you spoke to on the phone so you have to explain it all again. If they need to return, it could be a different plumber altogether. You don't know him, and you haven't built a rapport with him. It can feel like you have invited yet another stranger into your home. Maybe you feel uncomfortable, and if you live alone, this can be especially worrisome.

Small, local plumber, big value

Small local plumber companies tend to have low overheads. Often there are no premises at all. There is no huge sales force to pay wages, holidays and sick pay to. There are no high overheads to pass on to you.

Another plus for using a small business is continuity and familiarity. When you call to explain the problem, it very likely will be the same person who calls out to fix it. The next time you have a plumbing issue, you may call the same plumber. You begin to build a rapport with them. They remember what the problem was. They remember you, and you remember them. You begin to feel comfortable with them so that when they call out, it's not a stranger you open the door to.

Its easier to get to know each of them by name if you are using a small company. You won't get lost in a computerised system and become just a job number.

A small business needs your custom to survive. Hence you can be sure the standards of work will be high to keep you coming back.

How do I know if the plumber is licensed?

There are a few things which are imperative when looking for a good local plumber. Plenty of experience is one of the most important things when considering who to use. An experienced plumber will have come across a comprehensive range of issues and problems.

Most importantly, the plumber of your choice must have a plumber's license in accordance with legislation. Hence, there may be several in your area, but it's advisable to make sure they are licensed. You can check whether a tradesperson has a licence by looking them up online.

We're here for you

Looking for a Sydney plumber you can trust? One who has plenty of experience, who is licensed, and who will turn up on time? Look no further! We are fully trained and guarantee every job. We are licensed and work according to full health and safety regulations.

Here at Inspired Plumbing, we are a small company, you will never be just another job number. To us, you are a VIP. We value our customers, and we know it can be difficult to make ends meet. However, we also know how important it is to keep your plumbing safe for you and your family. That's why we run special offers and promotions. Call us today to ask what promotions we can offer you this month.