Drain Cleaning

Blocked drains are a common occurrence in many homes, however, before seeking professional assistance there are a few drain cleaning hints and tips that can save you time and money. Common causes are highlighted below, along with sensible solutions in order to help anyone with blocked drains to identify and rectify the problem. From housewives and students to D.I.Y enthusiasts, these tips are designed to accommodate any level of confidence, or skill.

Common Causes

There are a few recurring factors for blocked drains, and each of the factors highlighted in the following list have tailored solutions. Please bear in mind that for major blockages professional advice is recommended. The most common causes for blocked drains inside the home are:

- Hair
- Food
- Grease and Fat
- Soap scum
- Foreign objects (e.g. jewelry, toys, etc.)

There are ways to clear minor blockages without using the industrial strength chemicals that are on the market. Some of these products are ideal for certain jobs, but bear in mind that acid or caustic soda is a little harsh for hair or other minor blockages. PVC waste piping is also susceptible to damage from the highly corrosive chemicals found in some commercial drain cleaning fluids. If the cause of the blocked drain is due to foreign objects, then drain cleaners will not help. You will need to either remove the object yourself or call a plumber to remove it for you.

Boiling Water

With any suspected blockage around the house, first try to find where the clog is. If you cannot actually see the cause, then pour a bucket of boiling water down the drain. Using the water should disturb any blockages, and is also likely to remedy the problem.

Plunge In

If the bucket of water does not work, then grab a trusty plunger in order to investigate the problem further. In most cases the sound of the blockage dislodging can be heard almost instantly when a plunger is used, and for hair or food, this could be all that is needed to do the job. If you are sure the problem is hair, and the plunger hasn’t fixed the problem, the following solution will manually disturb the blockage.

If hair is not removed as soon as possible, and has the chance to build around bends in the pipe, the problem can stop the passage of water completely. A good cleaning tip is to fashion, usually from a wire coat hanger, a long hook to reach and disturb any hair build up. This type of homemade device can also help with any food build up.

Greener Solutions

When dealing with stubborn blockages, such as grease or fat, that cannot be reached by any of the methods mentioned above, it will be tempting to opt for commercial drain fluids. Before this is considered, boiling water, as well as many household ingredients, is widely used for cleaning drains. Washing powder has low caustic properties and has helped many people unblock their drains, use around 1/4 of a cupful and flush afterwards with plenty of water. Baking soda is also extremely effective, around 1 cupful should be used, and rinsed away with boiling water, repeating the process if necessary. A cup of vinegar can also be combined with the baking soda, to create an effective chemical reaction in order to help unclog drains.

Professional Advice

If the blockage is causing a strong smell, and cannot be rectified, then the chances are that it could be more serious and it is advisable to contact a professional. Blockages can accumulate at any point in the pipework, and it might be that a plumber can diagnose the problem. These drain cleaning tips will solve the majority of common problems, however, if the problem persists and none of these tips remove the blockage, it is advisable to phone a qualified professional for further advice.

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