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How To Unblock A Drain

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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.

Plumbing Experts

Inspired Plumbing is a family-owned plumbing business based in Sydney. We service locally in the Sydney region area and specialise in unblocking drains.
Blocked Drains
Blocked drains
Our family operated plumbing service has been unblocking drains since 2006 and we can service any type of blocked drain including: Toilets, showers, bathroom and kitchen sinks, sewers, tree roots and non-invasive CCTV drain inspections.

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Leaking Taps
Leaking Taps
If a leaking tap is giving you trouble or if your water meter has gone up and you’re unsure if there might be a leak, our experienced plumbers can detect and resolve any leaks. Leaks can worsen and add up over time, wasting water and causing hefty water bills. Don't hesitate to get your leak fixed now.
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Hot Water Systems
Hot water systems
We are highly experienced and knowledgeable in Hot Water Systems and offer cost effective installation, repair, servicing and replacement. We know how important having hot water is so we make it a priority to get your hot water running again with minimal downtime.

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Pipe Relining
Pipe relining
Don’t dig up your yard or driveway. Take advantage of the latest Pipe relining Solutions. We provide a NO DIG or Destruction solutions for as blocked drains, collapsed and broken pipes, blocked sewers and pipes damaged by tree roots, storm water pipes and many more.
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Drain Camera Inspections
Drain camera inspections
Using our state of the art technology we perform CCTV Drain camera inspections to locate the blockage or damage pipe, we clear the pipe using high pressure jetting equipment.
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Gas Fittings
Gas fitting
A gas fitter is a certified professional who can install gas meters as well as install, maintain and repair gas appliances.At Inspired Plumbing, our plumbers are licensed gas fitters, so they provide both plumbing and gas-fitting services.
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Blocked Sinks
Blocked sinks
You should always do your best to prevent leaks and bursts, since a leaking or burst pipe can seriously damage your home and possessions. But as we know all too well, if the most perfectly maintained homes can still have problems – that’s where our plumbers come in!
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Blocked Toilets
Blocked toilets
If you have a continually running toilet or it leaks from your toilet, you probably need a plumber to figure out what’s going on and address it. If the tank isn’t filling after a flush or not filling completely, that could indicate another problem
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What local customers say

Xavier came out to my home within an hour and did an amazing job at such an affordable price.


Cannot recommend Inspired Plumbing enough for his help on our rental property


Inspired Plumbing is my local plumber and I would never use anyone else! These guys are amazing at what they do.


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    Most Frequently Asked Questions

    You Have A Pipe That Is Leaking Or Has Burst
    If a pipe bursts, before calling an after hours plumber, make sure you immediately move anything of value in the water’s path to a higher floor, garage, or out into the garden. If it’s minor, locate the leak and wrap it with rags or duct tape. Place a bucket underneath. Then call us.
    Your Kitchen Sink Drain Is Backed Up
    You’ve probably already tried using a plunger or auger to pull out the clog. So, it’s time to call our after hours plumber service. While you wait for us, please resist the urge to use a corrosive drain opener, as they are toxic and can actually make the problem worse. Hang in there and we’ll be there soon!
    Your Water Heater Only Puts Out Cold Water
    This is a classic ‘call-a-plumber’ job – you don’t want to take this one on yourself. There are some DIY things you can do with your water heater as routine maintenance.

    However, getting too involved with this appliance can expose you to natural gas or electricity - either of which can be deadly. Not to mention the risk of an exploding hot water heater. It’s not worth it, simply call us and a licensed and experience plumber will be there before you know it!
    There’s No Water In Your Home
    A no-water situation probably could be caused by the municipal water line to your home (or your well, if you have one). Call us as we might already know of any water outages in your area. If we don’t know of one, we’ll call Sydney water whilst we’re on the way. You can rest easy knowing as soon as you’ve put the phone down, we’re sending an emergency plumber to help you.
    Your Toilet Is Blocked And Starting To Overflow
    Try to pull out the clog with a plunger. If this doesn’t work, though, call us. You probably need a professional to deal with this messy business. We’re familiar with the hidden places where toilet clogs build, and we’ve got the equipment to have it cleared in a jiffy.
    You Have A Leaky Water Heater
    If your water heater has a leaky valve, you could be wasting a lot of money on water heating when all that’s needed is a replacement valve. If corrosion has damaged the water heater wall, though, it might be time for a replacement. A leak can cause property damage, so, as soon as you notice it, call us, your emergency plumber, ASAP. We’ll fix the problem, whatever it takes!

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