There is no plumbing problem much more common than a blocked drain. The good
news is that if you spot the problem early, most blocked drains are relatively easy for
you to solve by yourself. The important thing is to know what not to put down a drain.
Put together a list and distribute it to all the members of the household so that you
don't suffer from the same problem sometime in the future as most blocked drains are
easily avoidable with a bit of planning and regular cleaning and maintenance.
Wherever you have a blockage, if it applies to only one fixture, then your first line of
attack is a plunger or hand auger, especially if you have spotted the problem early. In
most cases this should solve your problem and all will be well. The exception is the
shower, where hopefully you will have some sort of device which is capturing the hair
and soap scum before it enters the drain. Yes, in this case, it is going to be a little
unpleasant, but you're going to have to clean it out before the shower blocks totally
and water is up around your ankles and not draining away. So lift up the cover and
remove whatever is sitting there, using gloves if that makes it easier for you. It is good
to do this regularly so that there isn't the chance of it descending down into your drain
and causing a major blockage.
If the plunger or hand auger doesn't work for the other drains, then use one cup of
baking soda and three cups of boiling water, or a combination of baking soda and
vinegar to break down the blockage. This is a simple alternative to the highly toxic
chemical cleaners that are available at your supermarket. Although they do the job,
these chemicals are very dangerous to have around the house, particularly if you have
children. They are also dangerous to the environment as there is the chance that due to
flooding or a split drain, they could be dispersed into the storm water system and end
up in the sea or rivers where they are a hazard to people and the environment.
If you have more than one drain blocked, there is a possibility that you have either
multiple blocked drains, or there is a blockage in a main line. This could be caused by
any number of things, including tree roots and old disintegrating pipes, or just that
something that shouldn't have been put down a drain, such as fat or sanitary pads,
which has caused a blockage. In this case it is best to call a plumber who will be able
to locate the problem and fix it.
If there is the smell of sewage in the house, it is best to ring a plumber straight away
so as to avoid any further back up of waste. And always ask the plumber what had
caused the blockage so as you can make sure you and the rest of your household avoid
putting such things down a drain in the future.