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How to Use Drain Rods for Clearing Your Drains

Here at Any Drains, we appreciate that sometimes homeowners like to roll up their sleeves and tackle blocked drains themselves before calling in the drainage specialists and paying for drain cleaning services.

When facing a blocked drain or drainage problems, most people turn to the proven effectiveness of drain rods for a quick and easy drain clearance.

Drain rods are specialised tools designed to clear blockages in pipes and drains. They generally consist of flexible rods, typically with varying attachments such as plumber’s snakes or drain augers, which can be used to dislodge and remove the obstruction. These rods can be purchased from a wide variety of locations. Home improvement stores, both physical and online, are a great source, offering an array of options to suit varying pipe sizes and blockage types.

Also read: How to unblock a drain?

The utility of drain rods lies in their simplicity and effectiveness. By inserting the rod into the affected drain pipe (or drain pipes) and applying a gentle force, homeowners can break apart or move the blockage, thus restoring normal water flow. Furthermore, with a bit of practice, these tools can even retrieve objects accidentally dropped down the drain.

Safety first: Using drain rods for unblocking drains the correct way

Using a drain rod to solve your drainage problem isn’t generally considered a high risk activity. That being said, when undertaking any DIY task, it’s crucial to take the necessary steps that ensure a hazard free work space and safe operation of tools and equipment.

So before you delve into the depths of your blocked drains, it’s important to keep in mind a few key safety points:

  • Always wear gloves, eye protection, and old clothes you don’t mind getting dirty and damp. It’s unlikely you’ll finish the task smelling like a septic tank, but you don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want to throw away after.
  • Be mindful of any sharp edges or broken pipe sections that could injure you.
  • Lastly, be gentle with your pipework to avoid causing further damage.

With the safety briefing out of the way, we can now move on to assembling the troops.

What you’ll need to clear your blocked drains

To conquer the blocked drain beast, you’ll need the following equipment:

  1. Drain rods (obviously): Sturdy, flexible rods that can be screwed together to extend their reach.
  2. Universal plunger attachment: The rod will typically have an attachment that functions as a plunger, ideal for breaking up the blockage. If this is not included in your drain rod set, it should be relatively easy to pick up.
  3. Sewer rod worm screw: A worm screw is  designed to help retrieve objects that may have been lost down the drain. It’s essentially a dual corkscrew that allows you to bore into and grasp the offending material that’s causing the blockage and then pull it back through the drainage system for disposal.
  4. Waste bucket: You’ll need somewhere to put the unpleasant nasties that you’ve dislodged!
  5. Hosepipe: Helps to clean out the drain after you’ve removed the blockage.

Now you know the safety protocols and everything you’ll need, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to the task at hand.

How to use Drain Rod to Clear your Blocked Drain

Now that you’re armed with your trusty drain rods, follow these steps to conquer the dark arts of drain unblocking:

Step 1: Locate the blockage in the drain pipe

The first step in tackling a blocked drain is to locate the source of the blockage within the drain pipe. Start by inspecting the closest manhole or access point to the place where you have noticed the blocked drain symptoms like slow water drainage or an unpleasant smell. Open the cover, and if the chamber is full, then the blockage is somewhere downstream. If the chamber is clear, the blockage is likely upstream.

Go to the next manhole or access point in the drainage system, in the direction you determined, and repeat the process. Continue this process until you find the chamber with the blockage. The drain blockage will be between the last clear chamber and the first full or overflowing one. This method should help you pinpoint where the blockage is in the system.

Step 2: Assemble your drain rods

With the blockage located, it’s time to assemble your trusty drain rods. Screw together as many sections as you need to reach the blockage, remembering that they will need some flexibility to navigate any bends in the pipe. Make sure the plunger attachment is securely fastened to the end of the drain rod.

It’s always best to start with the plunger attachment as dislodging obstructions is generally better than having to drag them back through the system.

Step 3: Break up and push through the blockage

Insert your drain rod into the pipe, using a gentle twisting motion to work it past any bends. Once you reach the obstruction, apply a firm but controlled pressure to break up and dislodge the blockage.  Use a push and pull motion to move the blockage further down the drain, repeating until you feel that it has been successfully cleared.

Step 4: Retrieve the blockage (if necessary)

If merely breaking up the blockage doesn’t resolve the issue, you might need to retrieve the obstruction. Switch the plunger attachment for the worm screw on your drain rod. Insert the rod and try to “screw” it into the blockage before gently pulling it back. This can be particularly useful for blockages caused by solid objects or clumps of hair and grease. However, this should be done with great care to avoid damaging the pipes.

Step 5: Clean and flush the pipe

Once the blockage is cleared, it’s essential to clean the drain to prevent future clogs. Insert a hosepipe into the drain and flush it with water to wash away any remaining debris. Be sure to monitor the water flow to ensure it’s draining correctly. If it’s draining slowly or not at all, you may need to repeat the process.

Remember, unblocking a drain can be a dirty job, and sometimes it might be more complicated than expected. If you feel uncomfortable doing it yourself or the issue persists after these steps, consider calling a professional drain cleaning service.


And that’s it – the 5 simple steps needed to clear blocked drains using drain rods.

With the right tools and proper techniques, you should be able to clear the majority of minor blockages in your pipes. Just remember to take the necessary safety precautions, have patience and persistence, and always be gentle with your pipes.

However, if you find yourself defeated by a particularly stubborn clog, remain concerned about your pipework’s condition, remember that the drainage specialists at Any Drains are always on hand to provide professional assistance.

Still stuck? Call on Any Drains!

If you simply don’t have the time (or inclination) to get down and dirty yourself and are looking for an immediate fix to your drainage disaster, then our expert engineers can take the reins.

Fully equipped with the latest technology such as high pressure water jets and CCTV drain cameras, our team of fully trained, highly rated drainage professionals turn up on time ready to deliver a service of the highest standard.

Don’t hesitate to reach out if you need us.

We hope you’ve found this guide useful and wish you success in clearing your blocked drains! Happy unblocking!

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