Blocked drainpipes are a plumbing issue that shouldn’t be left unattended. Drainpipes are the pipes that take the dirty water out of the house, so if they become blocked, the results can be very unpleasant and disruptive to your everyday routine. Not to even talk about potential damage to your home! If you’re willing to give the issue a go yourself, here’s how to clear a blocked drainpipe.
What causes blocked drainpipes
Drainpipes may become blocked for many reasons, depending on where the pipe is situated. For example, drainpipes underneath the kitchen sink often become clogged from food waste or cooking oil. For pipes draining your shower, the likely culprit is soap or hair build-up. A trickier situation is if a solid household object or a tree root blocks the pipe further down.
Most common reasons for blocked drainpipes
- Food waste
- Soap build-up
- Soil movement
- Tree roots
- Drain collapses
How to clear a blocked drainpipe
There are some home remedies and DIY tricks that can be used to clear blocked pipes in the house. Yet, these will only work if the issue isn’t too severe (such as a solid object jammed in the pipe) and the blockage isn’t too far down the pipe. For that reason, the first step is to locate where the blockage sits. If the blockage is in or near the removable p-trap (the bent part of the pipe) underneath the sink, the job will be easier to do on your own.
Here are some DIY solutions for how to clear a blocked drainpipe:
1. Liquid solutions
There are many liquid solutions on the market that can simply be poured down the drain to dissolve blockages. However, be careful when using liquid solutions. The chemicals used in them are extremely corrosive, and they could even harm older pipes. Be cautious and always wear gloves when handling these products. Besides, they will only work on soft matter such as hair or dirt.
2. Vinegar and baking soda
A great natural DIY solution, vinegar and baking soda can be used to clear drainpipes. Start by pouring a full kettle of boiling water down the drain. Follow with a ½ cup of baking soda, leave for 5 minutes, and add one cup of vinegar and one cup of hot water. Leave for 10 minutes, then pour one more kettle of boiling water to flush the loosened build-up down the pipe.
3. Boiling Water
A simple solution to a blocked drainpipe is to boil a full kettle of water and pour it down the drain. This method is mainly effective for a drain that is not fully clogged but might need a bit of loosening.
4. Powder-based solutions
There are also powder-based solutions available on the market if you prefer them over the liquid ones. Follow specific product instructions, but generally, it’s best to start by running hot water into the pipe for 2 minutes. Then, pour the powder in and leave for a couple of minutes before rinsing again with hot water.
Sometimes a good old-fashioned plunger is all that is needed to fix a clogged drainpipe! A plunger will work for solid blockages that are not too far down the pipe.
6. Drain Snakes
A drain snake is a long, flexible steel tool, used to remove the accumulation from the pipe. They can be bought at any hardware store.
The best solution is, of course, to keep your drainpipes clear. Prevention is better than cure, so place strainers in all your drains, avoid pouring cooking oil in the sink and run hot water or a vinegar-baking soda solution down all drains every few weeks.
When to call in a professional plumber
Sometimes you just have to call in a professional plumber to clear a blocked drainpipe, especially if the issue is underground. If tree roots have broken into the drainpipe, or a large object is stuck in it, the pipe might need to be excavated and replaced.
A professional plumber can use tools such as a CCTV drain camera or a jet rodder to locate the blockage and clear it effectively. If you suspect your drainpipe might have a blockage that needs professional attention, we offer free, no-obligation quotes on all drainpipe cleaning.