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How to clear clogged drains

In a suburban dwelling, the pipes need regular maintenance, including the cleaning of a variety of pollutants. Otherwise blockages in the sewer system may occur, preventing it from functioning properly and smoothly. To avoid this problem, you need to understand how to unclog your pipes. Table of contents:

The key causes of blockages

Sewage pipes are often subject to the formation of clogs, which prevent the movement of liquid inside. The main cause of a blockage is non-compliance with operational rules. However, there are other factors that contribute to the blockage:

  1. Sewage pipes are often subject to the formation of clogs, which prevent the movement of liquid inside. The main cause of a blockage is non-compliance with operational rules. However, there are other factors that contribute to the blockage:
  2. An object in the pipe that obstructs movement within the system. Small contaminants accumulate on it, sealing the blockage even further.
  3. The build-up of solid deposits on the pipe walls, caused by organic and inorganic deposits that form during the life cycle.
  4. A blockage of grease particles, which is considered particularly harmful to pipes made of metal. The clog is formed due to failure to properly operate the sanitary unit, in which products containing large quantities of fat must not be discharged.
  5. Soap clogs form in pipes coming from the bathroom. It is not easy to get rid of such a clog as the soap mixes with other contaminants and hardens into a solid mass.
  6. Large quantities of hair can cause a serious blockage. The hair can gradually build up and curl up inside the pipe to form a large ball of hair. The only way to get rid of such a blockage is to clean the pipes with a special chemical solution or mechanically using a rope with a hook at the end.
  7. An incorrectly designed drainage system leads to water stagnation and the formation of unwanted deposits. If this is the case, the water supply system has to be reassembled.
  8. A blockage can occur if the water is overloaded with mineral impurities. Due to the high stiffness of the pipe a build up of salt deposits on the pipe walls that make it difficult for the water to flow through the mains. This applies in particular to pipes made of metal.

Toilet paper and small objects should not be flushed down the toilet as this too can cause blockages in the pipes. A clogged system has the following consequences:

  1. An unpleasant odour coming from the drain hole in the sink, shower or toilet.
  2. Reduced water pressure or complete stoppage of the water supply.
  3. Slow drainage of the sink or bathtub. Appearance of standing water.
  4. An increase in the level of water in the toilet bowl.

To avoid unpleasant consequences, it is advisable to follow the rules of the plumbing system and have the pipes periodically cleaned.

Classification of sewer blockages

Sewer blockages are divided into several basic types:

  1. Operational clogs occur as a result of regular use of the water mains. It can be caused by: food grease that accumulates in the pipes and mixes with other foreign bodies (hair, bread crumbs, etc.) that get into the pipes.
  2. Mechanical is caused by non-compliance with the rules and regulations on the use of sanitary equipment. The mechanical one is formed by failure to comply with the rules and regulations for the use of sanitary equipment.
  3. Biological ones consist of human waste and food waste. Such a clogged sewer cannot be cleaned with household chemicals. In this case, the only solution is to dismantle the trap, clean it thoroughly and flush with a soapy solution.
  4. Technical clogging is caused by errors in the installation of the drainage system. It is not possible to correct the situation without the necessary experience and knowledge. It is advisable to call in a qualified technician to fix the pipe system.

Different methods are available for each type of blockage.

How to unblock a drain in your home

There are quite a few methods used to get rid of a blockage that has developed inside a plumbing system. One of the most common ways to get rid of a blockage is to use a special pipe cleaner. Alternatively, a solution made of vinegar and baking soda poured with boiling water is used. If the chemical cleaning method does not produce the expected results, it is advisable to try a mechanical method. It is not uncommon to use the following methods, which can help get rid of a blockage if the sewer is clogged:

  • The mechanical method involves the use of a special device in the form of a flexible metal rope equipped with a hook on one end for gripping and breaking up the clog, and a handle on the other end. This helps to hold the rope more firmly and twist it as needed to go further into the pipe.
  • The hydraulic method means that a strong jet of water can be used to penetrate the drain. The liquid must be supplied at high pressure to make the pressure as strong as possible.

If you cannot get rid of the problem yourself and the methods described do not bring the desired result, you must call a plumber. A professional will analyse the situation and carry out the necessary action to remove the blockage.

Flushing with boiling water

This method is only suitable if the blockage is caused by grease. It is therefore necessary to first check why a blockage has formed. To determine the type of blockage, each drainage point must be inspected. If the pipes are plastic, you can simply use a bright torch or lamp. The outline of the shadow will tell you where the blockage is. If it is a localised clog, only a certain part of the pipe can be flushed. The method is considered the simplest, but in many cases this procedure is enough to get rid of the clog. About 6 litres of boiling water should be poured into the pipe. More than this is not recommended, as plastic pipes can become deformed, causing the entire water supply system to fail.

Cleaning sewer pipes with baking soda and vinegar

A solution made from these substances is excellent for dealing with operational and grease blockages. Follow the step-by-step instructions on how to clear a blockage in a plastic pipe:  

  • Pour about half a cup of baking soda into the drainage hole.
  • Pour vinegar into the inside of the pipe.
  • Cover the drain hole with a cloth or something else.
  • Wait about 2 hours.
  • Open the drain and rinse with hot water (approx. 4-5 litres).

This method does not always get rid of the blockage. If the procedure is unsuccessful, another method of cleaning should be used.

Cleaning the sewer system with chemicals

Washing chemicals soften and dissolve the blockage, which helps to rinse it out later. Household pipe cleaning chemicals come in three main forms:

  • liquid;
  • gel;
  • powders.

If it is not possible to pinpoint the exact cause of the blockage, an acid-based product is recommended. Otherwise, most of them have identical proprties. Powdery substances often have to be left in the pipes for several hours or even overnight.

Cleaning with a plumbing rope

The cleaning method is simple:

  1. The end of the rope with a hook is lowered gently into the drainage opening.
  2. When the wire reaches the blockage, resistance is created. To be sure of this, try several times to pass the obstacle.
  3. When the blockage is reached, start turning the opposite end of the rope to break up the resulting blockage.

This method helps you deal with even serious blockages in the pipes. But if you are not sure in your ability to clean the pipes yourself – you better trust a professional plumber to do it. Our professional plumbers are always ready to help you in a difficult situation all across the city! Whether you need a plumber in North London, Battersea or Chelsea – you can count on us! Call the numbers on the website!


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