The bad news is that blocked drains are an inconvenient eyesore, can be unpleasantly smelly and in worst cases can lead to structural damage in your home. The good news is that the majority of problems with blocked drains can be remedied with a few quick fix solutions.
The best thing to try first is to pour plenty of boiling water down your drain – or plughole if that is where the problem is originating from. This may dislodge the blockage because often the build up of grease or foodstuffs is the cause as these are often cleared by boiling water. If the problem is still occurring try using a plunger to dislodge the gunk.
Next you can try pouring caustic soda down the plughole. This comes in crystal form and is also known as sodium hydroxide or soda crystals. Be careful when handling caustic soda as it is highly corrosive and could damage your clothes or skin. You may wish to use goggles and plastic gloves to be on the safe side. Other specialist drain cleaners and cleaning products are highly effective. You can also use a stiff wire to help with unblocking your drain. A wire coat hanger is a useful tool which can be modified for this task.
Prevention is the Best Cure
It is useful once or twice a year to get into the habit of pouring a drain cleaning product or boiling water down your drains to prevent grease from building up. Better still; avoid blocking drains by not allowing grease and other things to gather around your drains.
Food waste is a common cause of problems down the kitchen skink. Use a filter and yank food out of the plug hole if it does get lodged down there. Cooking fat is another source of drainage problems. Dilute with water if you must put it down the drain or sink.
Not putting large waste items down the toilet is also advisable although many people continue to do so. Items like sanitary towels and disposable nappies are some examples of these which lead to blocked drains. Anything that does not flush easily is bad news, in fact. Also avoid leaving items such as bottles and toys where they might fall down the loo!
Another major tip is to clean your bath, shower or washbasin regularly and prevent the build up of soap and hairs around plug holes. Be economical with soap around the sink if you can or at least clean it away as soon as it forms around the plug hole. A liquid soap can be a useful alternative.
You should also keep your drain grids and gutters free from leaves, dirt, weeds, etc and check your drains on an occasional basis. If you can lift up any drain covers it is worth taking a peak. Is the water moving or stagnant?
Find the Source
If you have a blocked drain, try to establish where the blockage is. If none of your neighbours appear to be affected then the blockage could be in your drain and the responsibility to clear it is yours. If other homes are affected then find out who is responsible for the problem. You can contact the Environmental Health Service for advice about blocked and broken drains affecting private properties. If you own your house you are usually responsible for repairing and clearing the drainage systems. If you are a tenant the landlord may be responsible, depending on the conditions of your rental agreement.
Bring in the Experts
If you have a major problem which cannot be remedied by any of the above you may have to call in the experts. There are a number of reputable companies who specialise in drain repairs and it is worth considering using one as major damage to your home can be caused if blockages are left untreated.
Structural defects to your drains and major blockages which are out of sight are easily detected these days via CCTV pictures, which are obtained by feeding an optical fibre down your drains. CCTV can also highlight the possibility of any future drainage problems which can then be rectified in advance. Hidden blockages are easily eliminated with the use of professional products such as specialist water jets, cutters and drain rods.