Why do you keep getting blocked drains? What should you not put down the toilet or drain? Can you unblock your drain yourself?
Why does our drain keep clogging up?
There are a number of reasons why you might be getting clogged drains – either in your sink, basin or shower.
Often a clogged drain is a due to a build up of hair or other debris getting washed down the pipes. This might be tissues, baby wipes, fat or grease, or other small household items that shouldn’t be going down the drain.
Our suggestion would be that none of these things should be going down the drain. Obviously tissues and toilet paper are fine to be flushed down the toilet (just watch how much you’re using). But really, no other household items should be flushed or washed down the drain. Nope, not even hair. Even tea bag strings can cause havoc. Basically, if it’s not compostable, then it shouldn’t be going into the water system. (You might argue that hair or some types of string are compostable, but they cause problems because they either creates clumps that clog pipes, or they wrap around things and cause blockages.)
Here is our list of things you shouldn’t flush down the toilet or wash down the drain:
- tea bag string
- tea bags that contain plastic (most of them do)
- coffee grounds
- egg shells
- dental floss
- feminine hygiene products
- baby wipes, wet wipes
- paper towels
- cotton balls
- fat, grease, oil (liquid or solidified)
- stickers from fruit
- kitty litter
- paint or varnish
If you need urgent help with a blocked drain, shower or toilet – call the trusted team at Regency Plumbing on 0800 PLUMBER | 0800 758 623.
How to unblock a drain yourself?
A blocked drain once in a while may be just a simple build up of hair or debris down the drain, which you can possibly clear out yourself. There are two ways of clearing a blocked drain – you can flush the blockage down through the pipe, or you can create pressure to lift if up and out.
Here are a few DIY techniques you can try to unblock a drain
- Hot or boiling water
If you suspect someone has put fat, grease or oil down the sink, then you want to start by running the hot water for a length of time. It’s not ideal, as you’re using up a lot of hot water. So, the best option is to not put fat down the sink in the first place.
- Home remedy products
If you prefer to avoid using chemicals or want to use what you have in the kitchen, then try an equal part mix of white vinegar and baking soda. Start with one third cup of each. Mix together in a glass or container that is larger than 1/3 cup as they will slightly bubble and fix when you mix them together. This is the reaction you want to send down the drain to see if that will clear the blockage. Follow that up with hot water to get the blockage moving down.
- Toilet plunger
We always recommend having two of these in your home – one for the toilets and one for the sinks. When you’ve got a blocked sink or shower drain, try plunging it as you would the toilet. Often the movement of air in the pipe is just what is needed to move the blockage. It might lift the blockage up and out, and that’s okay. Just make sure you have a bucket close by to put what ever is causing the blockage in (e.g. a hair clump, wet wipes, etc). Again, it pays to have rubber gloves handy her as well.
- Other DIY drain unblocking tools
Have a look at your local hardware store in the plumbing section (in person or online) and you’ll find a few different DIY tools you can try. They will be called something like drain unblocker tool, sink unblocker tool, sink drain unblocker, drain suction pump, sink plunger, drain rod. There are a number of inexpensive tools you can use, and most come in under $10.
They either plunge the water, causing the blockage to move either up or down through the pipe – like how a toilet plunger works. Or they insert down into the drain and pull the substance up and out. One of our favourites is referred to generically as a sink drain unblocker – it is simply a long plastic or PVC strip of about 500mm in length, with upward-facing spiky edges. You push it down the drain, run some water, lift and jiggle the tool up and out. It usually brings up with it the material that is blocking the drain.
- Liquid drain cleaners
You can also try liquid drain cleaning products that you can buy at the supermarket or hardware store – for either fat down the drain or any other unknown cause of a blockage. Use as directed on the label – they usually need to be left to sit for a few hours or overnight, followed by a good run of water down the pipes. Be extremely careful with these products, as these are poisonous and toxic (always wear rubber gloves, and keep them firmly out of reach of children). Because of their toxicity, we advise against using these chemical-based products. A better option to try yourself is to lift the blockage out. You can do this with a drain rod or a plunger. Both of these tools are very inexpensive and are worth having on hand at home.
If your drains, shower or toilet are blocking up regularly, there may be an underlying issue going on that you can’t see.
Regency Plumbing can look after all your drainage issues – including urgent unblocks.
Have a look at our full list of drainage services here or give us a call on 800 758 623.