When it comes to our household plumbing, chances are we don’t give it a second thought – until there’s a problem. As with so much home maintenance, the network of water and sewer pipes inside our walls that deliver hot and cold water, and eliminate waste on demand is pivotal to our sense of well-being.
How to tell if you have a blocked drain
If you have heard gurgling when you remove a plug, or if the water in your sink empties more slowly than usual, it is likely that you have a blockage. If the water backs up into your sink or toilet, or even your shower or bath, you may have a more serious blockage from your main line to your home.
How to clear a blocked drain
- Diagnostic work
Knowing how building sewer and drain lines are meant to be installed in aids in selecting the best method for clearing a blocked drain, pipe or sewer. The best method depends on access into the affected system, whether you are working upstream or downstream of the blockage, and whether you have direct access into the system or are working through or around a trap.
- Tools of the trade
Drain rods – which have plunger, scraper and retrieving head attachments – are best suited to systems with access chambers and rodding points; and for blockages caused by solids and paper catching on misaligned joins and sharp changes of direction. They are not ideal for grease and fat, or opening up tree roots.
A drain plunger may seem comical, but is effective when you are faced with a blocked toilet, sink, or shower where the blockage is within the water trap. The key is to isolate the blockage so that you avoid displacing the water up and out of lateral connections.
Drain rodding machines come in various sizes and are ideal for breaking up grease and fat local to gully pots and can be affective for retrieving tree roots. Although it is possible to hire these machines which clear blockages with their rotating drums, they are powerful beasts, and may be best left to plumbing professionals.
- Seek help