Blocked Drain Solutions: The Ultimate Guide for Homeowners

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The Ultimate Guide To Blocked Drains

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Welcome to our ultimate guide for blocked drains! As a team of plumbing experts, we understand the frustration and annoyance that clogged drains can bring to homeowners. Over the years, we have seen it all when it comes to blocked drains - from soap scum buildup to tree roots and everything in between. That's why we've put together this comprehensive guide to provide homeowners with the knowledge and tools they need to tackle this common problem.

In this guide, we'll be covering the most common causes of clogged drains and sharing our best tips and techniques for unblocking them. Whether you're dealing with a slow-flowing sink drain or a completely clogged pipe, we've got you covered. We'll also be discussing preventative measures you can take to reduce the risk of future clogs and keep your plumbing system running smoothly.

So, whether you're a seasoned DIY-er or just starting out, we're confident that this guide will help you tackle any clogged drain with ease. Let's get started!

Causes of Blocked Drains

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Clogged drains can be a real pain for homeowners. There are a few things that can cause them, including soap scum buildup, foreign objects, tree roots, and sediment. If you know what's causing your clogged drain, it'll be easier to find a solution and prevent future problems.

Soap Scum

One reason your drain might be clogged is because of soap scum buildup. Over time, soap scum can collect on the sides of your pipes and form a sticky film that catches hair, dirt, and other debris. This can slow down or completely block the flow of water through your pipes.

Foreign Objects

Foreign objects, like toys and food, can also cause clogged drains, especially in the kitchen where food waste often goes down the drain. If you don't want your drain to get clogged, make sure you're only flushing things that are supposed to go down the drain.

Tree Roots

If you have mature trees near your plumbing system, their roots could be causing your clogged drain. Tree roots are attracted to the moisture and nutrients in your pipes, and they can grow into and damage your pipes, leading to blockages.


Finally, sediment can also cause clogged drains. This can include things like sand, silt, and minerals that can buildup over time in your pipes and reduce their diameter, leading to blockages. This is more common in older homes with cast iron pipes that are prone to corrosion.

Identifying Blocked Drains

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Blocked drains can be a frustrating and potentially damaging issue for homeowners. However, by being mindful of the symptoms, you can take proactive steps to resolve the problem before it becomes more serious. At our plumbing business, we have put together this comprehensive guide to help our readers identify the signs of a blocked drain.

Slow Drainage

One of the most prevalent indicators of a blocked drain is slow drainage. If you notice water draining slowly from your sinks, toilets, or other fixtures, it's possible that there is an obstruction in the pipes. Debris such as soap scum, hair, grease, and other material can accumulate over time, causing a clog in the pipes.

Gurgling or Bubbling Sounds

Gurgling or bubbling sounds coming from your pipes are another sign of a clogged drain. When water flows through pipes that are blocked, it can create a gurgling or bubbling noise as air is trapped in the pipes. This sound is an indication that there is a buildup of air in the pipes that is being caused by the blockage.

Bad Odours

Bad odours are a further indication of a clogged drain. If you detect a foul smell coming from your sinks, toilets, or other fixtures, it's likely that there is a blockage in the pipes. This is particularly prevalent in drains that are used less frequently, such as those in a guest bathroom.


Overflowing is another clear symptom of a blocked drain. When water pools and overflows from your sinks, toilets, or other fixtures, it is a sure sign that the pipes are clogged. This can lead to water damage and disruption, so it is crucial to take action to resolve the issue promptly.

Water Backups

Water backups are another obvious sign of a clogged drain. If water is backing up through your sink drains, shower drains, or other fixtures, it's likely that there is a blockage in the pipes. This can cause water to overflow and create a mess, so it is essential to address the issue as soon as possible.

Visible Blockages

Visible blockages are another sign of a clogged drain. If you find dirt, hair, or other blockages in your pipes, it's possible that you have a clogged drain. This is especially common in toilets and sinks where clogged bowls and sinks are common.


Flooding is another indication of a clogged drain. If the drain is completely blocked, water can back up and flood around the drain. The presence of harmful bacteria in the water can cause water damage and health risks, so it is essential to resolve the issue promptly.

Water Discolouration

Discoloured water is a further symptom of a clogged drain. If the water coming out of your faucet, shower, or other appliance appears discoloured, it may indicate a clogged pipe. This can occur when debris such as sediment, minerals, or rust clogs the pipe, causing the water to appear discoloured. This can also be a sign of more significant problems, such as a burst pipe, so it is crucial to address the issue quickly to determine the cause of the discolouration.

DIY Drain Clearing Techniques

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Blocked drains can be incredibly frustrating for homeowners. Fortunately, there are several DIY techniques to tackle the problem. While some methods are straightforward and effective, others may require additional time, effort, and specialised tools. We have provided below some of the most common DIY drain clearing techniques for you to consider:


The plunger is a common solution for drain clogs and is frequently the go-to tool for homeowners looking to quickly resolve the issue! To use a plunger, simply place it over the affected drain and pump it up and down with force to create suction. This will help to loosen and remove blockages such as soap scum, hair, and other debris.

Drain Snake

A drain snake is a long, flexible tool that is ideal for removing blockages in sinks, toilets, or shower drains. Drain snakes come in different lengths and sizes, making them easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces. To use a drain snake, insert it into the drain, twist it around to break up the blockage, and then remove it.

Baking Soda and Vinegar

A mixture of baking soda and vinegar can help to break down and dissolve stubborn blockages such as soap scum, hair, and grease. To use this method, pour a half cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a half cup of vinegar. Wait for 5-10 minutes before flushing with hot water.

Boiling Water

Boiling water can help to clear minor blockages by loosening and removing them. To use this method, boil a large pot of water and slowly pour it down the affected drain. However, this method is not recommended for pipes that are severely clogged.

Wire Hanger

A wire hanger can be straightened and bent into a hook shape to reach blockages and remove them from the drain. To use this method, insert the hook into the drain and use it to fish out any visible blockages such as hair or soap scum.

Chemical Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners are readily available at hardware stores and can be used to clear blocked drains. However, it is important to use caution when working with chemicals as they can be corrosive and may damage pipes if not used correctly. Be sure to read and follow the instructions carefully.

Prevention is Key

In addition to clearing current blockages, it is essential to take steps to prevent future blockages from occurring. This may include avoiding pouring grease or oil down the drain, regularly cleaning out drains and traps, and installing hair strainers or screens to catch hair and other debris.

Essential Tools and Materials

To tackle clogged drains, you will need to keep a few essential tools and materials on hand. These include a plunger, drain snake, baking soda, vinegar, a wire hanger, and chemical drain cleaners. It is also a good idea to have rubber gloves, a bucket, and a towel on hand in case of spills or splashes.

Essential Tools and Materials

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Professional plumbers have a range of proven strategies for effectively clearing blocked drains. These methods are designed to tackle even the most stubborn blockages that cannot be resolved with basic DIY tools and techniques. They are highly effective and provide superior results compared to non-professional approaches. In this section, we will explore some of the most common plumbing strategies to help unclog stubborn blockages.

Hydro Jetting

Hydro jetting is a powerful cleaning technique that uses high-pressure water to remove clogs and buildup from your pipes. This process involves directing a strong stream of water through the pipes, effectively flushing away dirt, debris, and other obstructions, including those caused by grease, soap scum, and hair. Hydro jetting is a highly effective solution for restoring the flow and performance of your pipes.


Professional snaking is a versatile technique that involves using a flexible auger or cable to remove blockages from pipes. This method is often used in hard-to-reach areas such as toilets, sinks, and shower drains, and is especially effective for removing clogs caused by hair and other organic materials. By inserting the auger or cable into the pipe and rotating it, the blockage can be quickly and efficiently cleared, restoring the flow of water.

Camera Inspection

Camera inspections are an essential tool in diagnosing and identifying the cause of blockages in pipes. By inserting a small camera into the pipes, our plumbing experts can get a clear and detailed view of the inside of the pipes, helping us to locate and determine the cause of the clog. Camera inspections are a non-invasive and highly effective way to diagnose and plan repairs for drain issues.

Trenchless Repair

We highly recommend trenchless repair as a modern and effective solution for repairing pipes. This non-invasive technique allows for repairing pipes without the need for excavation, avoiding the costly and disruptive process of digging up the pipes. Trenchless repair is achieved by either inserting a new pipe into the existing one or repairing the existing pipe from the inside, making it the ideal solution for those who desire minimal disruption to their property. 

Electric Eel

Many plumbers turn to the electric eel for clearing stubborn blockages in pipes. This electrical drain cleaning tool gives off electrical currents to effectively cut through clogs. The electric eel consists of a long, flexible cable with a cutting head at the end that is inserted into the pipe. Its quick and efficient nature makes it a go-to solution for plumbers to remove pipe blockages.


Mineral deposits like scale and iron can build up in pipes and drainage systems, causing clogs and slowing down the flow of water. That's where descaling comes in, it's a professional technique that helps remove these deposits and restore proper function to your pipes. The process usually involves using high-pressure water jets, abrasive tools, and sometimes chemicals to dissolve the deposits. This solution proves to be highly effective in restoring the proper flow of wastewater and preventing future blockages from forming.

Cost of Drain Repairs

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We understand that the cost of repairing clogged drains is a major concern for our clients. The cost can vary greatly and is dependent on several key factors such as the degree of blockage, the type of repair method used, and the location of the drain. While do-it-yourself methods like using a plunger or a baking soda and vinegar mixture can be a low-cost option, they may not provide a complete and long-lasting solution.

However, in cases where the blockage is severe or the plumbing system is outdated, more professional repair methods such as hydro jetting and trenchless repair may be necessary. These methods may come with a higher price tag, but they are crucial in effectively unclogging drains and restoring the proper functioning of the drainage system. Moreover, additional repair costs may incur if the cause of the blockage is due to factors outside the plumbing system, such as tree roots or broken pipes. Your plumber will carefully consider all of these factors when determining the best solution for clogged drains, ensuring that our clients receive the most cost-effective solution possible.

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Maintenance and Prevention: How To Keep Your Drains Running Smoothly!

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At Across Plumbing, we understand the importance of maintaining a healthy and functional plumbing system, and preventing blockages is a key aspect of this. By taking a proactive approach and implementing a regular maintenance routine, you can significantly reduce the risk of clogged drains and prolong the life of your plumbing system. Let's dive into the steps you can take to minimise the risk of blockages and maintain a smooth-flowing plumbing system.

Clean as You Go

When it comes to maintaining and preventing blockages in your drains, regular cleaning is key. Make it a habit to regularly clean your sinks, shower stalls, bathtubs, and toilets to avoid soap scum buildup and other debris from getting trapped. Use a drain strainer or stopper to keep hair, food particles, and other materials from going down the drain in the first place.

Watch What You Flush

We all know what they say: only flush the three P's (pee, poop, and paper). But it's also important to be mindful of what you pour down your drains. Avoid putting thick liquids like grease, oil, and other materials that can solidify and clog your pipes. Instead, pour these materials into a container and throw them in the trash.

Handle Grease with Care

Grease is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to clogged drains. To avoid blockages, never pour it down the drain. Let it cool, pour it into a disposable container, and then throw it in the trash. If you have any excess grease in your pans, use a paper towel or coffee filter to wipe it up before washing them.

Schedule Regular Check-Ups

Just like a yearly visit to the dentist, regular check-ups for your plumbing system can help you identify potential problems before they become major blockages. Consider scheduling a professional inspection of your drains once a year to make sure everything is functioning as it should.

Filter Out the Junk

Installing filters or screens on your drains can help keep debris, hair, and other materials from entering your pipes and causing blockages. You can easily pick these up at your local hardware or home improvement store.

Clean with Enzymes

Enzyme-based cleaners can break down organic matter and keep your pipes flowing smoothly. Use these products regularly to keep your pipes in great shape.

Use Your Plumbing Fixtures Properly

Make sure you're using your plumbing fixtures as they're meant to be used to avoid blockages. For example, don't use your toilet as a trash can and avoid flushing items like paper towels, feminine hygiene products, and baby wipes.

Dispose of Materials Properly

To avoid blockages, it's critical to dispose of materials properly. Never flush or pour grease, oil, chemicals, or other materials down your drains. Instead, throw them in the trash where they belong.

Safety Precautions

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It is extremely important to always take safety precautions when working on blocked drains. Before attempting any type of cleaning or repair, it's crucial to have the right tools and equipment, as well as protective clothing, such as gloves, goggles, and appropriate attire. When dealing with hazardous materials like chemicals or grease, extra precautions must be taken to avoid any potential harm.

Importance of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Working with plumbing fixtures can expose you to potential hazards, which is why we emphasise the use of personal protective equipment (PPE). This includes gloves, safety glasses, and a mask to protect from chemicals or debris that may be present.

Location of Main Shut-off Valve

It's essential to know the location of your main shut-off valve in the event of a leak or overflow. Quick access to this valve can prevent further damage to your home and minimise any safety hazards.

Handling Chemicals with Care

The use of chemical drain cleaners is often necessary to clear blocked drains. However, it's important to follow the instructions on the label and take necessary precautions, such as wearing gloves and eye protection and avoiding skin contact with the chemicals. Proper storage of these chemicals is also crucial, keeping them out of reach of children.

Boiling Water Safety

Boiling water is a common DIY technique for clearing drains, but it must be handled with care to avoid potential harm. Make sure to use a pot or container that is safe for boiling water and be cautious when pouring it down the drain to avoid burns.

Electrical Safety Near Water

When working with plumbing fixtures, it's important to avoid the use of electrical devices near water to minimise the risk of electrical shock.

Understanding Pipe Risks

Working with pipes can be dangerous, and it's important to understand the potential risks involved. This includes cuts from sharp edges, exposure to hazardous materials, and the risk of falls or injury from climbing or reaching in tight spaces.

The Importance of Professional Assistance

While DIY methods can be effective for some blocked drain problems, it's important to know your limits and when to call in a professional. This can help prevent further damage to your plumbing system and ensure your safety.

Following Instructions

Performing any repair or maintenance on your plumbing system requires careful attention to instructions and necessary precautions. This can help prevent mistakes and ensure the safety of yourself and others.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

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The most common mistake we see people make is resorting to chemical cleaners that are too harsh for pipes. Such cleaners can damage your pipes and may not deliver the desired results.Another mistake to avoid is the incorrect use of plungers on clogged drains. This can only make the blockage worse by pushing it further down the pipe. In these situations, it's better to seek the help of a professional plumber with the right tools and expertise to resolve the issue safely.

Misuse of Chemical Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners may seem like a convenient solution for clearing clogged drains. However, overuse or incorrect usage of such cleaners can damage pipes and cause even more blockages. Additionally, many chemical drain cleaners contain hazardous substances that can harm people and the environment.

Pour Down Grease at Your Own Risk

Pouring grease down the drain is a common blunder that can lead to severe blockages. Grease solidifies and sticks to the inner walls of pipes, attracting other debris and causing clogs. It is crucial to avoid disposing of grease down the drain and to properly dispose of it.

Incorrect Plunger Usage

Using a plunger in an incorrect manner can worsen the problem or damage the pipes. To use a plunger correctly, you need to ensure that there is sufficient water in the sink to cover the plunger cup, create a tight seal around the drain, and then pump the plunger vigorously up and down.

Untrained Snake Usage

Using a drain snake without proper training can cause harm to the pipes or make the problem worse. Drain snakes are powerful tools, and if not used correctly, they can cause additional blockages or damage the pipes.

Neglecting Warning Signs

Ignoring warning signs of a blocked drain, such as slow drainage or gurgling sounds, can lead to more severe problems. It is crucial to address these warning signs promptly to avoid further damage and more costly repairs.

Over Reliance on DIY Methods

Relying too heavily on DIY methods can harm the pipes and make the problem worse. If DIY techniques do not resolve the issue, it's best to seek the assistance of a professional.

Lack of Pipe Maintenance

Proper maintenance of pipes, such as regular cleaning, proper disposal of materials, and regular inspections, can help prevent blockages and keep pipes in good working order. Neglecting proper maintenance can result in blockages and costly repairs.

When to Seek Professional Assistance

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Certain plumbing issues can be complex and require the expertise of a professional. It's crucial to know when to seek help from a licensed plumber to ensure that the problem is resolved effectively and safely. Here are several scenarios where calling a professional is recommended:

Serious Clogs

When faced with a severe blockage in your drain, DIY methods may not suffice. In these instances, professional plumbers are equipped with specialised tools and techniques to safely and effectively remove the clog.

Recurrent Clogging

If you're experiencing clogs that keep coming back, it may indicate a deeper issue. In such cases, calling a professional plumber to diagnose and solve the problem is the best course of action.

Pipe Damage

If your pipes are damaged, it's important to have a professional repair them promptly. Improper repairs or DIY fixes can exacerbate the issue and result in further damage.

Safety Hazards

Certain plumbing issues can pose a significant safety risk, such as gas leaks or exposed electrical wiring. In these situations, it's imperative to seek immediate assistance from a professional plumber.

Complex Issues

Professional plumbers have access to advanced techniques and equipment that are necessary for diagnosing and resolving more complicated plumbing problems.

Blocked Drain Location

If you're unable to identify the source of a clogged drain, a professional plumber can use their expertise and specialised tools to quickly locate and resolve the issue.

Urgent Matters

In the event of a plumbing emergency, such as a burst pipe, it's essential to seek help from a professional immediately. They have the resources and experience to respond quickly and prevent further damage.

Long-Term Solutions

If you're looking for a permanent solution to a plumbing issue, calling a professional is your best bet. They can provide recommendations and make any necessary repairs to ensure that the problem is resolved for good.

Expert Solutions for Persistent Blockages

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Persistent blocked drains can be a nuisance and usually require advanced techniques to resolve the issue. Plumbers are trained and equipped with the necessary tools to effectively unblock even the most stubborn of drains. Here are some of the most effective methods we use to fix persistent blocked drains:

Pipe Relining

Pipe relining is a more convenient and cost-effective option for fixing damaged pipes. Instead of digging up the old pipes, a new tube with special resin is inserted into the damaged pipe. This forms a smooth and long-lasting new pipe inside the old one, avoiding the need for excavation. This solution is commonly used to repair pipes that have been damaged from corrosion or regular wear and tear.

Pipe Bursting

Pipe bursting is a method that replaces damaged pipes without the need for excavation. A small hole is made in the damaged pipe, and a new pipe is pushed into place using a hydraulic jack. The new pipe is forced through the old pipe, breaking it apart and effectively replacing it. Although more invasive than pipe relining, pipe bursting is still a more cost-effective option compared to traditional excavation and replacement methods.

Root Cutting

Root cutting is a technique used to remove roots that have become clogged in pipes. Roots can cause significant blockages and lead to water logging and other problems. This method uses specialised equipment to cut away the roots, effectively unclogging the pipes. While this approach is more invasive, it is usually the only way to completely remove stubborn root blockages.


Descaling is the process of removing mineral deposits, scaling, and other materials that can accumulate over time and cause blockages in pipes. This buildup can lead to reduced water flow and low water pressure. Descaling is done with special equipment and chemicals that remove these deposits and restore pipes to optimal condition. This is an important step in maintaining the cleanliness of pipes and preventing blockages.

Pipe Excavation and Replacement

Pipe excavation and replacement is the traditional method for repairing damaged pipes. This process involves digging up the damaged pipe, removing it, and installing a new one in its place. While more invasive and costly than other methods, it is often necessary for severe damage or when other techniques have been unsuccessful. This approach is also a more permanent solution, as the new pipe should last for many years.

Regular Maintenance

Regular maintenance is key to keeping pipes clear of blockages and other issues. This includes cleaning pipes frequently, using enzyme-based cleaners, and properly disposing of grease and other materials.. It also involves scheduling regular inspections, installing filters or screens, and avoiding materials that can cause problems.

Pipe Upgrades

Upgrading the pipes can improve their performance and lifespan. This can include replacing old pipes with new, more durable ones, or installing new technologies such as water filtration systems or backflow preventers. Upgrading pipes can help prevent blockages and other problems, and can also enhance the overall performance and efficiency of the plumbing system.

Environmental Considerations

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It is essential for plumbers and homeowners to be mindful of the environmental impact of their solutions. Before starting any repairs or maintenance on your drainage system, it is crucial to find out if there are any local regulations or permits that must be obtained.To minimise the risk of contamination of hazardous materials like solvents and chemicals during repair work, we recommend using eco-friendly products and methods wherever possible. This not only ensures compliance with local requirements but also helps protect the environment.

Proper Disposal of Chemicals

The use of chemicals in plumbing, whether for cleaning or unclogging purposes, can have severe environmental consequences if not handled and disposed of properly. To minimise these impacts, it is crucial to follow the instructions and guidelines provided by the manufacturer and to dispose of chemicals at a designated hazardous waste disposal facility in a safe and responsible manner.

Use of Environment-Friendly Products

The demand for environmentally friendly products in the plumbing industry has grown in recent years. These products have a minimal impact on the environment and are made from biodegradable, non-toxic, and chemical-free materials.

Minimising Water Waste

As water is a precious resource, it is important to minimise its waste in plumbing practices. This can be achieved by fixing leaks, installing low-flow toilets and showerheads, and avoiding practices that lead to excessive water usage, such as leaving the tap running while brushing your teeth.

Energy Efficiency in Plumbing

Energy consumption is a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, and the plumbing industry is no exception. To reduce the environmental impact of plumbing practices, it is important to use energy-efficient appliances and fixtures, such as tankless water heaters, and to properly insulate pipes to reduce heat loss.

Recycling and Reuse in Plumbing

Recycling and reusing materials such as pipes and fittings is another key aspect of reducing the environmental impact of plumbing practices. By recycling these materials, we can reduce the demand for new resources, minimise waste, and conserve energy.
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