Are you searching online for tips on how to unblock a drain? You’re not alone! Dealing with blocked drains is a common issue for homeowners in South Africa.

Whether it’s an outdoor drain, sink drain, or even a sewage drain, it can be frustrating and inconvenient. That’s why we’ve created a comprehensive guide to help you tackle this problem head-on. 

Learn step-by-step instructions on unblocking different types of drains, and discover why it’s best to avoid chemical drain cleaners. Equip yourself with the knowledge and tools needed to overcome blocked drains and restore the functionality of your plumbing system.


How To Unblock a Drain: Home Remedies & DIY Solutions

Have you been frantically searching ‘What can I use to unblock a drain’ or ‘How to unblock a drain home remedy’ online because you have a smelly, clogged drain? In this section, we are going to discuss safe home remedies that you can try to unblock clogged drains in your home. Here are 5 DIY solutions for clearing blocked pipes that you can try before calling out a professional plumber:

1. Try Boiling Water

The first thing you can try when trying to figure out how to unblock a drain is boiling water. It is a highly effective and straightforward blocked drain solution and involves boiling a pot or kettle of water and gradually pouring it down the blocked drain. 

Hot water melts FOG (fat, oil, grease) build-up, unblocking drains. Pouring boiling water creates a surge of heat, breaking down deposits. Easy, chemical-free method for minor blockages. Quick relief without professional help.

How to Unblock a Drain - Boiling Water in a Pot

It’s important to exercise caution when handling boiling water to avoid any accidents or injuries. Slowly pour the hot water down the drain to prevent splashing and ensure that the water reaches the blockage. Repeat the process if necessary, allowing time for the heated water to work its magic before attempting to clear the drain again.

Remember, while boiling water can be a powerful ally in unblocking drains, it may not be effective for more severe blockages or underlying plumbing issues. In such cases, it is recommended to seek the expertise of a professional plumber, such as Absolute Plumbing Cape Town, who can assess the situation and provide the appropriate blocked drains solutions.

2. How To Unblock a Drain with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Bicarbonate of soda and vinegar is a tried-and-true home remedy for a blocked drain that has been used for generations to tackle blocked drains. This simple yet effective method involves mixing equal parts of baking soda and vinegar together and swiftly pouring the mixture down the troublesome drain. Once poured, allow the solution to sit undisturbed for approximately 30 minutes, giving it ample time to work. During this time, a chemical reaction occurs between the baking soda and vinegar, creating a foaming action that helps break down stubborn blockages.

After the designated waiting period, it’s time to flush the drain with boiling water to clear away any remaining debris. The hot water acts as a powerful rinse, carrying away dissolved gunk and restoring proper drainage. It’s important to exercise caution when working with boiling water to avoid any accidents or injuries.

This classic combination of baking soda and vinegar is known for its natural cleaning properties and ability to dissolve organic matter, making it an eco-friendly alternative to harsh chemical drain cleaners. While it can be effective for minor blockages, keep in mind that more severe clogs or underlying plumbing issues may require professional plumbing services.

3. Use a Plunger To Help Dislodge Blockages

Using a plunger correctly is important to clear a clogged drain effectively. However, it’s essential to understand the proper technique and be aware of potential risks. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to unblock a drain with the use of a plunger while also highlighting the possibility of making a clog worse:

  1. Select the right plunger: Select a plunger specifically designed for drain clearing, such as a cup plunger or a flange plunger. These types of plungers provide better suction and are suitable for different types of drains.
  2. Create a tight seal: Place the plunger over the drain opening and press it down firmly to create an air-tight seal. This seal is crucial for generating the necessary suction to dislodge the clog.
  3. Apply forceful plunging motions: Use a vigorous pushing and pulling motion with the plunger. Push down forcefully, then pull up quickly, creating a back-and-forth action. This motion helps create pressure changes that can dislodge the clog.
  4. Repeat the plunging action: Repeat the plunging motion several times while maintaining a strong seal between the plunger and the drain. The repeated pressure can help break up and move the clog.
  5. Be cautious of excessive force: While it’s important to apply some force, be careful not to exert too much pressure. Excessive force can potentially damage the pipes or pack the clog tighter.
How to Unblock a Drain - Man using a plunger

It’s important to be aware that using a plunger can sometimes make a clog worse due to the suction and pressure it creates. The increased pressure can cause the clog to become more compact, making it harder to remove. In cases where the clog persists or worsens after attempting to use a plunger, it’s advisable to avoid further attempts and seek professional assistance.

4. How To Unblock a Drain with Baking Soda and Salt

Another great home remedy to unblock a drain is the baking soda and salt method. This is similar to the baking soda and vinegar method but is a great option if you don’t have vinegar at home. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use this method to unclog your drain:

  1. To begin, mix a half-cup of baking soda with a half-cup of salt in a small bowl. Make sure to stir well to ensure the ingredients are evenly mixed.
  2. Once you have the mixture ready, slowly pour it down your blocked drain, ensuring that it goes directly into the drain opening.
  3. Let the mixture sit in the drain for approximately 30 minutes to allow it enough time to work. During this time, the baking soda and salt could help break down the clog and clear any debris clinging to the inner walls of the pipe.
  4. Once the waiting period has passed, cautiously pour boiling water down the drain to eliminate the dissolved blockage along with any leftover residue or accumulation. It is crucial to exercise care while handling boiling water to prevent burns.
Jar of Baking Soda

If the blockage persists after the first attempt, you can repeat the process by pouring the baking soda and salt mixture down the drain again, followed by another round of boiling water. Keep in mind that while this method is simple, affordable, and eco-friendly, it may not be effective for severe clogs or underlying plumbing issues. If multiple attempts do not clear the clog, it’s advisable to consult a professional blocked drain plumber for further assistance.

5. Chemical Drain Cleaners

Many homeowners turn to a chemical blocked drain cleaner when they are looking for solutions on how to unblock a drain, but we strongly discourage you from using these chemicals. Store-bought chemical drain cleaners can severely damage your plumbing and lead to corrosion of your pipes. So, although you may solve the issue temporarily, you may be causing larger issues or masking bigger issues in the process.

For example, if your blockage is caused by a tree root invasion, you may get your drains running again with chemical drain cleaners, but what you don’t realise is that the tree roots have damaged the pipes. So not only do you have a leak, but you may also have sewage and water leaking into your home or into your foundation, which will cause property damage.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

Besides that, harsh chemical cleaners are a danger to you and your family if not handled correctly. There was even a case in the UK where a mum attempted to unblock her toilet and accidentally mixed chemical drain cleaners, creating a massive chlorine gas cloud. They had no choice but to call the fire department and evacuate their home

Recommended Reading: Why Professional Plumbers Are Used For Drain Cleaning

How To Unblock a Drain: DIY Solutions for Specific Drains

In this section, we will explore specific inquiries about different types of drains and offer possible do-it-yourself solutions for blocked drains in your home.

How To Unblock a Sink Drain

If you lack the confidence to disassemble your sink’s plumbing, it is advisable to refrain from attempting this DIY solution for clogged drains by yourself. However, if you are familiar with the procedure, here is a detailed guide on how to clean a blocked sink drain step by step:

Step 1: Start by positioning a container below the U-shaped pipe beneath your sink. This will collect any water that might flow through your plumbing while you’re clearing the blockage.

Step 2: Using a wrench, gently loosen the slip nuts on both ends of the pipe and carefully detach it. Please exercise caution as there might be water or debris present.

Plumber using a wrench on a sink pipe

Step 3: Empty any water or debris from the removed pipe into the bucket.

Step 4: Take an old toothbrush and use it to thoroughly clean the inside of all the pipes you have access to now that you have removed the U-shaped section. This will help remove any buildup or blockage that may be causing the issue.

Step 5: Once you have cleaned the pipes, slowly flush them with water to ensure they are clear. Then, reassemble the plumbing by tightening the slip nuts back into place.

It’s important to note that if you are unsure or uncomfortable with this process, it is recommended to seek the assistance of a professional plumber who can effectively address the blockage in your drain and can educate you on how to unblock a drain safely in the future. 

By following these steps, you can attempt to unclog your sink’s drain on your own. However, always prioritise your safety and consult a professional if needed.

How To Unblock a Shower Drain

If you’re wondering how to unclog a shower drain, using a plumber’s snake is the most effective method to clear the blockage.

How to unblock a drain with a plumber’s snake: also known as a drain auger or drain snake, is a flexible tool specifically designed for unclogging drains. It consists of a long, coiled wire with a handle at one end and a pointed tip or auger head at the other. The wire can be extended into the drain pipe to reach the blockage and manually break it up or remove it.

Drain Snake

By twisting the snake in a clockwise direction and applying gentle pressure, you can navigate through the clog and restore proper drainage. Plumbers snakes are available in various lengths and sizes to accommodate different types of drains. They are a handy tool for both homeowners and professional plumbers when it comes to tackling stubborn drain blockages effectively.

How To Unblock a Drain Outside

Is your outside drain overflowing? When it comes to outdoor drains, there are specific considerations to keep in mind for South Africans. Outdoor drains can become blocked due to various factors such as debris, mud, soil, or even fat buildup.

To unblock these drains there are several outside drain unblocker methods you can try. One commonly recommended approach is manually using a drain rod, which is a useful tool for clearing blocked drains. Another option is using specific equipment like a plumber snake, drain snake, auger, drain rods, pressure hose, or hydro jet blasters. These tools are designed to reach and safely unblock outdoor drains.

Plumber unblocking an outdoor drain

It is advisable to seek professional assistance for outside drain issues. Plumbers have the right tools and expertise for unique circumstances and blockage types. They can diagnose the cause, prevent further damage and solve problems effectively, helping you save valuable time and money.

You can maintain your drains with regular professional care. Schedule a CCTV drain camera inspection and drain cleaning once a year, especially for older homes, offices, or flats. This proactive approach prevents potential issues and ensures optimal drain functionality.

How To Unblock a Sewage Drain

If you have been searching for methods on how to unblock a drain and you are specifically looking to unclog your sewage system, there are a few things you need to take into account. Unblocking a sewage drain can be a challenging and potentially hazardous task that requires proper safety precautions. When attempting to unblock a blocked sewer drain, always wear protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and waterproof boots to minimise direct contact with sewage and protect yourself from harmful bacteria and pathogens.

Unblocking a sewerage drain

Step 1: Begin by locating the main water valve and shut it off to prevent any further flow of waste or water into the drain during the unblocking process.

Step 2: Clear the immediate area around the drain to ensure easier access. This may include objects or obstacles that may impede your work, such as plants or debris.

Step 3: The first drain cleaning method you can try is a plunger. Start by creating suction with a plunger to attempt to clear the blockage. Firmly position the plunger over the drain and vigorously push and pull in a rapid motion.

Step 4: If that doesn’t work, you can try using a drain snake or auger. Insert the tool into the drain, gently push it forward, and rotate it in a clockwise direction to dislodge and remove the blockage.

Step 5: If the blockage persists, it is advisable to contact a professional plumber, like Absolute Plumbing Cape Town. We have the knowledge, expertise, and specialised equipment to handle more complex sewage drain blockages safely. 

Why Are My Drains Blocked?

Now that we have covered how to unblock a drain, you may be wondering what causes blocked drains in the first place. Here are the 6 causes of blocked drains and why they can lead to clogs:

Tree Root in Drain
  1. Tree roots: When there are tiny cracks in your plumbing, tree roots can infiltrate the pipes, seeking a water source. As roots grow and spread, they can cause significant blockages that require professional assistance and specialised equipment.
  2. Fats, oils, and grease(FOG): Pouring hot grease or fat down the drain may seem convenient, but it solidifies and adheres to the pipe walls over time. This buildup can lead to blockages in your drains that accumulate other debris and turn into fatbergs.
  3. Hair: Shed hair during bathing can become tangled and form clumps, resulting in blockages in shower and bathtub drains.
  4. Soap: The residue from soap can accumulate in drains, gradually causing blockages. This is particularly common in shower drains where soap accumulates over time.
  5. Toilet paper: Excessive use of toilet paper can lead to blockages in toilet drain pipes, especially if the paper is not flushed down regularly and has had time to dry in the toilet bowl.
  6. Foreign objects: Items like jewellery, toys, clothing, hairpins, and feminine hygiene products have the potential to get stuck in drains, obstructing the flow of water.

Interesting read: 13 Odd Things Flushed Down The Toilet

How To Unblock a Drain With The Help of Absolute Plumbing

Absolute Plumbing offers professional plumbing services for both residential and commercial properties throughout Cape Town. We understand the frustration of dealing with a blocked drain. That’s why our team of expert plumbers at Absolute Plumbing are here to help. We will assess the condition of your drains, determine if they need unblocking, and provide you with a detailed quote.

To effectively address blockages, we utilise two primary methods for drain cleaning: high-pressure hydrojetting and a rotary machine cleaner. These techniques guarantee comprehensive cleaning and effective removal of obstructions.

Trust Absolute Plumbing to deliver exceptional service, resolving your drain issues and restoring proper functionality with utmost professionalism.

The Absolute Plumbing Team

How To Unblock a Drain: Final Thoughts

If you’re facing a blocked drain, there are various methods you can try to resolve the issue. However, if the problem persists, it’s advisable to seek the assistance of a professional.

Absolute Plumbing Cape Town boasts extensive experience in dealing with blocked drains and offers a range of services, including bathroom renovations, drain cleaning, leak detection, pipe relining and general plumbing in Cape Town. Our team is adept at swiftly identifying the problem and unblocking your drains.

We trust that this article has provided you with valuable insights on how to unblock a drain and should you have any additional inquiries regarding our plumbing services, please feel free to reach out to us on 084 872 2758.

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