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How to Unblock a Drain?

Maintaining clear drains is essential for a healthy home environment. Blocked drains can lead to unpleasant odours, slow water drainage, and even potential damage to your property.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to unblock a drain effectively, ensuring your home remains safe and hygienic.

Common causes of blocked drains

Understanding what causes blocked drains can help you prevent future issues. Here are some of the main culprits:

  • Hair: Often the main cause of blockage in bathroom drains.
  • Grease and fat: Primarily affects kitchen sinks.
  • Food waste: Even with a garbage disposal, certain foods can cause clogs.
  • Soap scum: Over time, soap can accumulate and harden.
  • Foreign objects: Toys, sanitary products, and other items can get stuck in pipes.

Signs of a blocked drain

Identifying a clogged drain early can prevent more severe problems. Look out for these signs:

  • Slow drainage: Water taking longer to drain than usual.
  • Gurgling sounds: Unusual noises from your plumbing.
  • Unpleasant odours: A foul smell coming from the drain.
  • Water backing up: Water returning up through the drain.

Preparing for the task

Before you start, gather the necessary tools and take safety precautions:

Tools needed

  • Plunger
  • Drain snake
  • Bucket
  • Rubber gloves
  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Hot water

When unblocking drains, it’s important to follow safety precautions to avoid injury and ensure the task is carried out effectively.

Safety Tips for drain blockages

Always wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from harsh chemicals and debris. If you are using chemical drain cleaners, ensure the area is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling fumes.

Keep children and pets away from the work area to prevent accidents. Additionally, if you encounter any resistant blockages or suspect damage to your pipes, it is advisable to consult a professional plumber to avoid causing further damage or facing hazardous situations.

Methods for unclogging drains

Using a plunger

unblock drain Using a plunger

A plunger is an effective tool for tackling minor to moderate blockages and is often the best approach for unclogging sinks, toilets, and shower drains.

  1. Place the plunger over the drain, ensuring a good seal.
  2. Push down and pull up rapidly to create suction.
  3. Repeat until the blockage is cleared.

Pouring hot water

unblock drain Pouring hot water into drain

Pouring hot water is an easy, cost-effective solution particularly suitable for minor grease and soap scum blockages in kitchen and bathroom sinks that are blocking your drainage system.

  1. Boil a kettle of water.
  2. Carefully pour the hot water into the drain in stages.
  3. Wait a few minutes between pours to see if the blockage clears.

Baking soda and vinegar

unblock drain using Baking soda and vinegar

Baking soda and vinegar create a powerful, natural reaction that is particularly effective for tackling organic blockages and deodorising the drain.

  1. Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain.
  2. Follow with half a cup of vinegar.
  3. Let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Flush with hot water.

Using a drain snake

unblock drain Using a drain snake

A drain snake, also known as a plumber’s snake or auger, is ideal for stubborn blockages that cannot be cleared using a plunger or baking soda and vinegar.

  1. Insert the snake into the drain.
  2. Turn the handle to push the snake further into the pipe.
  3. When you feel resistance, twist and pull the snake to break up the blockage.
  4. Remove the snake and flush the drain with hot water.

Commercial drain cleaners

unblock drain using Commercial drain cleaners

Commercial drain cleaners are potent chemical solutions designed to dissolve stubborn clogs, particularly those caused by hair, grease, or soap buildup, and should be used as a last resort when other methods have failed.

  1. Follow the instructions on the product label.
  2. Usually involves pouring the cleaner into the drain and waiting a specified time.
  3. Flush with water as directed.

Enzyme cleaners

unblock drain using Enzyme cleaners

Enzyme cleaners are a safer, eco-friendly alternative for maintaining and clearing drains, especially suitable for organic blockages and for regular maintenance to prevent future clogs.

  1. Use enzyme-based cleaners for organic blockages like grease and hair.
  2. Pour the cleaner into the drain and leave it overnight.
  3. Flush with water to clear the drain.

Use a drain rod

unblock drain using a drain rod

A drain rod is a long, flexible rod designed to tackle blockages in an external blocked drain. Typically made from durable materials like polypropylene, they can extend to significant lengths through a series of interconnecting sections, allowing it to navigate through long and winding drainage systems. Drain rods often come with various attachments, such as plunger heads or corkscrew augers, to effectively break up and dislodge blockages.

How to use drain rod for unblocking drains

To use a drain rod effectively for clearing a blocked external drain, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Assemble the drain rods by screwing the sections together to the required length. Ensure they are securely connected to prevent detachment within the drain.
  • Step 2: Attach the appropriate tool head, such as a plunger or corkscrew, based on the nature of the blockage.
  • Step 3: Insert the drain rod into the blocked drain, pushing it gently but firmly to avoid damaging the pipe.
  • Step 4: Rotate the rod clockwise as you advance it into the drain. The rotation helps navigate bends and build up the necessary force to break through blockages.
  • Step 5: Once the blockage is reached, continue to rotate and push the rod to dislodge the obstruction. You may need to withdraw the rod occasionally to remove debris.
  • Step 6: After clearing the blockage, retract the rod slowly, checking to ensure the drain is flowing freely. Flush the drain with water to ensure it is completely cleared.
  • Step 7: Disassemble the drain rods and clean them thoroughly for future use.

Using a drain rod may require some physical effort and patience, but it remains one of the most effective methods for handling serious blockages in external drains.

Preventing future blockages

Here’s how to keep your drains clear:

  • Regular cleaning: Use baking soda and vinegar monthly.
  • Use a drain cover: Prevents hair and debris from entering drains.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Avoid pouring grease and food waste down the sink.
  • Flush drains: Run hot water through the drains weekly.

When to call a professional

Some blockages require professional intervention. Signs you need expert help include:

  • Persistent blockages:  If you have tried all methods and the blockage persists, it may be an indication of a more severe issue.
  • Foul odours: Unpleasant odours even after clearing the drain can indicate a larger problem.
  • Multiple clogged drains: If multiple drains in your home are clogged, it could be due to a more extensive blockage in your main sewer line.

If you encounter any of these signs or suspect damage to your plumbing system, it’s best to call a professional plumber for assistance.

How professionals unblock drains

As part of their professional drain cleaning service, drainage experts rely on a series of advanced methods for unblocking drains, ensuring that even the most stubborn or complex blockages are effectively addressed.

These methods go beyond basic household techniques and often involve specialised equipment and technologies.

Below, we will explore some of the sophisticated approaches used by professionals to restore proper drainage in both residential and commercial settings.

High-pressure water jetting

High-pressure water jetting is a common method used by professionals to clear blockages in all types of drains. This technique involves using a powerful water jet, typically at pressures ranging from 3000-8000 psi, to blast away debris and build-up within the drain. The high pressure effectively breaks down stubborn clogs and flushes them out of the system.

CCTV drain surveys

For more severe blockages or suspected damage in your drainage system, professionals may perform a CCTV drain survey to conduct thorough assessments of the drain pipes’ interior conditions. This helps identify the cause of the blockage and pinpoint any underlying issues that may require additional repairs.

Drain excavation/ trenchless repair

In extreme cases where blockages cannot be cleared through conventional methods, professionals may use drain excavation or trenchless repairs to address the issue. Drain excavation involves physically digging up and replacing damaged pipes, while trenchless repair techniques involve relining existing pipes without the need for extensive digging.


Keeping your drains clear is crucial for maintaining a healthy home environment. From understanding the causes to knowing when to call a professional, we’ve covered all aspects of drain unblocking. Follow these steps and tips to ensure your drains remain in top condition.

Experience exceptional drainage services with Any Drains

At Any Drains, we specialise in professional drain unblocking services. With advanced drain unblocking equipment and experienced technicians, we ensure your drains are cleared quickly and effectively.

Don’t let a blocked drain disrupt your home—contact Any Drains for a free quote today and experience the difference expert care can make.

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