Unclog Your Drain<

A blocked drain is a huge hassle and inconvenience. Not only does it mean you can’t use your kitchen or bathroom sink until the blockage is cleared, but a blocked drain may also cause damage to your property if it happens regularly.

A blocked or clogged drain means that water and waste are not flowing from your house to the sewage system properly. No one wants that.

Your first clue that you have a blocked drain is often the obvious sight of water not running down the drain properly. If your sink is filling with water and not draining properly, something is clogging the drain. You may also notice a bad smell coming from your plumbing, which might indicate wasted is clogged in the pipes. 

What causes a blocked drain?

Knowing what causes a blocked drain is useful in preventing your drains from blocking in the first place. The most common cause of a clogged drain is substances being washed down the sink that shouldn’t be. These might include excess food, grease or oil, tissues. People often think they can wash just about anything down the kitchen sink. That’s not the case – even if you have a waste disposal unit like an InSinkErator®.

Blocked drains can also be caused by things being washed down the sink in the bathroom that shouldn’t be there. This often includes dental floss, hair/hairballs, contact lenses, tissues. These things don’t break down in the water, so they gradually accumulate and create blockages in the pipes. These blockages then turn into blocks in the drains.

The best ways to prevent drain blockages like these are to:

  • Avoid washing anything down the bathroom sink other than water, soap, toothpaste.
  • Read the instruction manual for your waste disposal unit in the kitchen to make sure you’re using it as the manufacturer recommends. This includes knowing what you shouldn’t put down the waste disposer and knowing how much water to use with it.

How do you unclog a drain? 

If your drain is blocked because you have accidentally dropped something down the drain that shouldn’t be there, you’ll want to get the item out. This might include a small metal object that’s done down the kitchen sink (perhaps a pull tab from a can). Or it might be a piece of jewellery that’s slipped out of your fingers and fallen down the bathroom sink.

For starters, it’s best to make sure your sinks have proper guards on them to prevent items like these from falling down the drain. But if something slips through the cracks, there are a few things you can do to try to dislodge the item and unclog the drain:

  1. Don’t run the water. The last thing you want to do is force the item even further down the pipes.
  2. Grab a small plunger. It pays to have a smaller sink plunger on hand, rather than having to use your toilet plunger, but either will work. Cover the drain opening with the plunger and start gently, push and pull. The plunger works by sucking and pushing air through the pipe, which will hopefully push and pull the substance blocking the pipe, eventually dislodging it. You may hear a gurgle or a small rush of water once the block is released.
  3. If you’ve dropped something down the drain that you want to retrieve, like a piece of jewellery, don’t use the plunger method. As this may push the item further down the drain and into the sewage pipes. Instead, look under the sink, and you’ll see the main drainage pipe that curves into the shape of a P or a J. This is called the trap or the P-trap because its purpose is to trap water before it exits temporarily. This trapped water provides a seal so that wastewater, sewage backflow, and gases from the sewage system don’t flow back up through your pipes and into your home. The water in the trap is replaced every time you use the sink. The handy thing about the trap is that this is usually where substances that cause a sink blockage get trapped.

Place a bucket underneath the trap and check if there is a clean-out plug near the bottom of the trap. If there isn’t a clean-out plug, you will need to disassemble the trap to check for any trapped substance. Slowly unscrew the bottom pipe section and allow the water to drip into the bucket. Use a small utensil or tool (a teaspoon will do) to clear out any substances in the bottom of the trap.

You might read about “natural” methods of unclogging a drain that includes concoctions of baking soda, vinegar, boiling water, etc. We’re not a fan of this DIY approach. Drains are usually blocked because there is too much waste in the pipes (tissues, hair, grease), so adding more stuff to the clog isn’t going to help break it down. Think about it, if you have a fur ball from your pet, does adding baking soda and water make it dissolve? No. Similarly, running water often isn’t strong enough to push a blockage down and out. You need suction and air for that, which is why a plunger may work.

The best way to unclog a blocked drain

The best way to unclog a blocked drain is to prevent it from happening. It starts with knowing what you can and cannot wash down the sink. Learn to recognise what a healthy drain sounds and smells like. At the earliest sign of a blockage, get on to it. Either try the steps above or get a plumber in early to have a look.

We have an Auckland emergency plumbing team available 24/7 who can help with your blocked drain – and a range of other emergency plumbing services. Give us a call on 0800 437 021, and we will determine whether an emergency plumber needs to be sent out straight away. 

The Sumich Difference

There are a number of plumbing and drainage companies in Auckland, so why choose Sumich?

Founded by owner-operator Chris Sumich in 1991, Sumich Plumbing & Drainage has one of the most experienced teams operating in Auckland. Our team has a combined experience of over 100 years, and we’ve seen a comprehensive range of scenarios and solutions over the years. Clients trust us to give honest, transparent advice and service.

As registered members of the New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers & Gasfitters Association, we are professional, licensed Auckland plumbers for all of your plumbing, drain laying, gasfitting and heating needs. Give us a call to see how we can help.