Unblocking Drains Yourself – What Actually Works & What Doesn’t

May 23, 2022

We’ve all tried to do repairs ourselves before calling a professional. Who doesn’t love celebrating a little win by fixing something in our own house? Drain blockages are at the top of the “I’ll give it a go” list, right beside painting the walls and hanging a frame. Unfortunately, while it may seem fine at first, something more sinister may be brewing in the deep.

Sure, you may save a few bucks in the end if you’re lucky, but the risk of things going pear-shaped is much, much higher. Choosing to only call a professional plumber when the problem escalates to an emergency is a sure-fire way to cause more damage and higher costs in the long run. Still, we’re not going to try and tell you to call a plumber every time your drains get a little blocked up.

Read on for our list of unblocking methods to see what works and what should be avoided at all costs.

Bad Unclogging Methods

Sometimes things do more harm than good. The following two drain cleaning methods often are just temporary solutions that can snowball into bigger blockages down the line. They may be able to help solve small clogs, but should by no means be performed regularly.

Vinegar And Baking Soda

This natural remedy has been shared between wife groups for decades. The chemical reaction between the two ingredients creates a bubbling that is great at raising and dislodging grime and dirt. So sure, this will clean your pipes, but the issue lies in dislodged blockages becoming stuck further down and in a harder to reach zone.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

This method encounters many of the above issues. The main problem with these cleaners is that they can actually harm the soft parts of your pipes over time. So if you’re noticing that you’re going through a bottle of drain cleaner each month, it may be a matter of time until you create a bigger, structural problem. It’s the equivalent of brushing your teeth with sandpaper – it may get them clean, but think of the damage you’re doing.

A Sometimes Fix

We don’t tend to recommend this self-solve to everyone because it’s hugely reliant on the quality of the tool and how you use it. When used properly, they’re fantastic and even used by plumbers to fix drain clogs. However, if you have no experience with the gear, you’re better off calling in professional help to save yourself from equipment costs and the risk of mishandling.

Drain Cleaning Snakes

A drain snake, or auger pipe is a popular plumbing tool that breaks blockages apart or forces them through the pipe. The efficiency of these snakes boils down to their quality. You can go out and buy one for relatively cheap from the hardware store; however, they’re often not long enough to go all the way down your drain. That means you’re only doing half the job.

Snakes also do not help with serious blockages caused by things like tree roots or broken pipes. On top of this, they also pose a risk to fragile or soft pipe parts. In terms of costs, a good quality drain snake or auger pipe will cost you the same as hiring a professional plumber to help. The benefit of hiring a plumber is that they will be able to determine where the blockage is and remove it in the most effective way.

Pipe Cleaning Tips That Work

So we’ve gone through the popular methods that may be doing more harm than good to your property. Now let’s look at some methods that are safe to try at home. At the end of the day, it’s best to pull a blockage out rather than push it in.

Barbed Drain Snake

You can find these online. They have upwards facing soft barbs that will drag blockages upward. You can also get versions with a small spring-loaded hand. These tend to be too short to clean your drains comprehensively, but they are perfect for handling blockages near the surface. Their barbs make them ideal for hair blockages in shower or bath drains.

Wet And Dry Vacuum

If you have one of these handy tools lying about, it could help suck up some of the blockage. Just put it over the drain and put it on the highest setting. It may be worth pouring some hot water into the drain first to dislodge the blockage before trying to suck it up.

When A Pro Is Definitely Needed?

Sometimes you get lucky with a DIY job and won’t face another problem for a long time. But all luck runs out and eventually. At some point in your life, you may face a plumbing problem too big to be solved easily.

If you notice that your drains are becoming blocked more frequently, or aren’t working well even after a DIY method, that’s a sure sign to call an expert plumber. Several things cause blockages other than scraps or hair that go into them. Roots, crooked alignments, collapsed pipes and other deeper issues are serious causes of clogged drains. In these instances, the assistance of your local plumber is a must.

Contact Brisbane Metro Plumbing Today!

If you don’t want to live in fear of the blockage growing in your drains, contact the Brisbane Metro Plumbing team today. We’ll be at your home quickly and can diagnose and solve the issue for a reasonable price.

Our friendly team of administrators are in the office during regular business hours and can be reached at (07) 3491 8489. For after-hours support, call our mobile line on 0427 809 998.

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