Tips for troubleshooting blocked drains
Blocked drains are incredibly common in any type of home, from contemporary apartment blocks to historic houses or converted industrial spaces. A blocked drain is normally a fairly easy issue to fix. However, if left unattended for too long, or if the wrong solution is used, more serious issues can begin to crop up over time. Here are tips on how to troubleshoot the five most common drain blockages in residential homes:
A blocked toilet most often happens due to foreign objects being flushed down the toilet that don’t dissolve in water. This can be anything from children’s action figures to leftover food. There are also some trickier examples of items that are not degradable in a toilet such as wet wipes, feminine hygiene products or nappies.
Where to start: The best places to start with a clogged toilet is always a regular plunger. This will help shift whatever blockage is built up inside the toilet. If this doesn’t work then a plumbing snake also known as a toilet auger should be employed. This works by inserting it into the toilet and letting it snake all the way down the drain, hopefully breaking up the clogged particles within it.
Blocked Bathroom Sink
A blocked bathroom sink is normally caused by a build-up of particulates. This might include hair from shaving, mineral build-up or soap solidifying in the pipes.
Where to start: Once again the plunger is your best friend. Try to dislodge anything within the pipes through the plunger, however, remember to block the overflow drain before you start. The overflow drain it the hole half way up your bathroom sink which helps to siphon water in case the sink gets too full.
If the plunger doesn’t work then try a bio-cleaner or enzyme to break down the particles chemically. Another safe option is using vinegar and baking soda to cause a reaction in the pipes and hopefully clean out any soap or particles clogging them.
A blocked shower is most often caused by hair or soap build-up and is normally fairly easy to unblock if it isn’t anything more serious.
Where to start: The best place to start is to remove and clean the drain stopper (the sieve that lets water through to the pipe). If that doesn’t work then it would be a good idea to try a drain snake to remove any hair and break up clumped soap in the drain.
Blocked Water Pipes in Shower
While not strictly a drain issue, houses can often have restricted water flow coming out of their shower head. Often this can be due to a build-up of sediment inside the pipe providing the water.
Where to start: While this can be a more serious issue requiring professionals, a good place to start is to remove the showerhead and soak it overnight in vinegar to remove the sediment.
Blocked Kitchen Sink
A blocked kitchen sink is most often caused by grease solidifying and building up on the walls of the drain. This combined with detergent or soap interacting with undissolved food particles creates a thick sludge that clogs the sink and causes blockages.
Where to start: Again old faithful, the plunger, should be tried first. If it doesn’t do the trick then it might be a good idea to try and remove the elbow bend below the sink to see if it is the culprit. Finally a non-toxic chemical solution such as baking soda and vinegar or a bio-cleaner might do the trick.