Nobody will run the course of their lifetime without coming across a blocked drain in their bathroom. At one time or another, you will inevitably fall victim to the gurgling monster that stops the steady flow of water down your plugholes and hinders the normal functioning of your pipes. In this article I’m going to help you to diagnose, treat and even prevent drain blockages from causing issues within your household.
Drain blockage diagnosis
If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may have a blocked drain:
- Slow draining of water from the sink/shower basin
- An unpleasant smell from the sink (particularly if it’s in the kitchen)
- Gurgling noises accompanying slow draining
- Water coming back up out of a plughole when running the tap
- Raised water levels when flushing the toilet/slow to return to normal level
A blocked drain may sound like a trivial problem and is therefore often left to the wayside, but it is important to take action as soon as possible to ensure that the problem doesn’t worsen and, potentially, cause other knock on effects. When such an issue arises it can be tempting to employ DIY measures and tackle the issue yourself.
Usually, the first remedy people will turn to in this situation would be the chemical drain unblockers which you can purchase at most supermarkets or corner shops. You would be forgiven for thinking this method is minimally invasive, because it’s such a simple step, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, these over-the-counter concoctions are highly corrosive, meaning that although they will often dissolve minor blockages, they can compromise the integrity of your pipes and impact the water’s ecosystems.
The best thing to do in these situations is to call the professionals. Treat the home-diagnosis as a preliminary analysis and allow the professionals to conclude whether or not this truly is the cause of the symptoms that you’re experiencing. Plumbers have all sorts of special tools to deal with different types of blockages and a great deal of experience.
If, however, you’re determined to attempt a DIY method first, swap the chemical potions for a home-made concoction of vinegar and baking soda. Leave this overnight and follow with hot (but not boiling!) water to help clear the impasse.
In order to avoid future blockages, become diligent in monitoring what goes down your drains. Here are some examples of materials which you should abstain from disposing of down any drains:
- Hair – just have a quick check after each shower to remove any hair, this way it cannot build up
- Oil, grease, fat, other food waste – unless you have a special food disposal unit (even then make sure you check which foods you can use it for)
- Sanitary products – it may come as a surprise but these are actually unsuitable for plumbing disposal so use a sanitary bin instead
- Make up/baby wipes – even the ones which say they are ‘flushable’ – just play it safe and pop them in the bin