By Graham at Fife Drain Doctor on 31/01/2019

A blocked drain is the sort of problem you could really do without. Having to call out a professional costs money we’d all prefer to spend on just about anything else. However, a blocked drain does not have to leave you out of pocket. Here’s a quick guide to diagnosing and fixing the problem yourself.

How do you know if your drain is blocked?

There are a number of different causes of blocked drains, most of which are easy to diagnose yourself if you know the sights, sounds and smells to look out for. You can then take prompt action to put it right.

  • Water is draining slowly – One of the most obvious signs of a blocked drain is a sink, bath, shower or toilet that starts to drain slowly. This is usually a sign that there’s a blockage somewhere in the system, although it could also be a symptom of a more serious problem such as a collapsed pipe.

  • There’s a gurgling sound – A gurgling sound from plugholes, drains or your toilet flush indicates there’s trapped air somewhere in your system. That results from a build-up of dirt or grease, which prevents the air from escaping through the pipes.

  • A nasty smell – If you can smell rotting food or sewage inside the house or around the drainage cover, it’s likely you have a blocked drain. If you follow our tips to unblock the drain and still notice a smell, it could be a sign of a damaged pipe.  

  • The water level in the toilet is raised – If the water level in the toilet rises higher than normal after it has been flushed, that’s a sure sign of a partial blockage somewhere in the system. However, if the water rises to the point of overflowing, you could have a more serious problem.
  • There are signs of damp – At the more serious end of the spectrum, a cracked or collapsed drain can disrupt the flow of water and cause it to flow into the ground rather than through the drainpipe itself. That can lead to issues such as wet rot and damp in a property, typically on a localised area of a wall.

Top tips for unblocking your drain

Now you’ve diagnosed there’s a problem, how do you unblock the drain? These are our top tips to help you make quick work of many drain blockages. 

  • Boiling water

The first and simplest way to try and unblock a drain is to pour boiling water down it. Boil a full kettle and pour the water down the plughole slowly in two or three stages, separated by ten seconds to give the hot water time to work its magic. If this method if successful, your sink, shower or bath will drain nice and quickly once again. 

  • Grab the plunger

If the blockage remains in place, the next method we’d suggest is to reach for the plunger. Plungers work by forcing water down into the pipe to loosen and remove the blockage. Make sure the plunger forms an airtight seal around the plughole and give it a good few plunges to loosen the clog. 

  • Baking soda and vinegar

If it still won’t shift, we’d recommend mixing equal parts of baking soda and vinegar in a cup. This concoction will fizz immediately, so pour it down the clogged drain while it’s still reacting. This will help to breakdown the hair, grime and other gunk that has built up in the pipe. You should leave the solution overnight before rinsing to give it plenty of time to work.

  • The bent wire hanger

Straightening out a wire coat hanger and bending one end to create a small hook can create a perfectly effective drain unclogging tool. You should then push the hanger into the plughole and start pulling any nasty stuff up and out of the drain. Be careful not to push the blockage further down into the pipe as that will only make the blockage worse.

  • Use a biological cleaner

Biological cleaners use enzymes to chew through most blockages, which makes them an effective way to remove stubborn clogs that are out of reach. Biological cleaners are extremely effective at removing hair, soap and food blockages, and they are much kinder to your pipes and the environment than harsh chemical cleaners. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using this type of product.

  • Remove and clean the pipes

If you’re relatively handy around the home, you should be able to fix a blocked sink by taking the drainpipe apart. The first job is to place an empty bucket under the U-bend beneath the sink. Then loosen the slip nuts at both ends of the pipe, remove the pipe and empty the contents into the bucket. An old toothbrush is an effective way to clean and remove any debris from the pipe. You can then put it all back together again.

Call the experts

If these tips prove unsuccessful, you’ll need the help of a professional. At Drain Doctor Fife, we provide an efficient and cost-effective drain unblocking service, so if you’re in need of a quick fix, don’t hesitate to get in touch today.



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