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How do you unblock a blocked drain?

Different size drains, causes and locations require different methods of unblocking. If we tell you all our trade secrets, we’d have to kill you (just kidding)! Read on for how we unblock drains.

Some of the ways we unblock drains are:

  • Plunging
  • Combination of hot water and specialist acid (note, this acid is not for sale to the general public, please do not try to do this at home)
  • Manually if we can reach it (wearing gloves of course!)
  • With a mechanical drain cleaning machine (mostly for below ground sewage and stormwater drains)
  • High pressure jetting (when our mechanical drain cleaning machine cannot clear the blockage or the nature of the blockage requires jetting

How do you know if your drain is clogged?

If you’ve ever noticed a flood in your backyard when we’ve had a heavy downpour of rain, your stormwater drain might be blocked.

Sewage blockages are more obvious, often you can see discharge outside of toilet paper, water and poop. Inside your toilet bowl might fill up with water and whatever has been flushed, you may also have back up in the shower, floor waste drain or basin. Sometimes you can hear a gurgling or “plop plop plopping” noise.

How do drains get blocked?

  • Tree roots are a fairly common cause of blocked sewage or stormwater drains. This is a bit like your lawn – you grow them, we mow them. Tree roots will continue to regrow, and cause issues with your drains.
  • Foreign objects flushed down the toilet – you should only ever flush the 3 P’s down your toilet: Pee, Poop and Paper. Sanitary products, wipes, kitty litter, continence aids all can block your drain. Even if the product says flushable on it, your local water authority will advise you to stick with the 3 P’s rule.
  • Foreign objects accidentally (or sometimes on purpose) going down a drain outlet. Some of the things we’ve retrieved/seen blocking a drain pipe include: toilet deodorisers, toys, glasses, clothing, sticks, recently a piece of metal flashing, a screwdriver in a shower waste, tennis balls, rubble.
  • Too much toilet paper.
  • Poor fixture design combined with any of the above.
  • Aging below ground pipes and/or ground movement causing cracks and misalignment.
  • Poor installation.

How to unblock a blocked drain outside?

If the blockage is in the below ground we use a drain cleaning/sectional machine (sometimes referred to as a drain snake) good for up to 100mm diameter.

Jetting – where we have been unable to clean the drain using a standard drain cleaning (sometimes due to length, sometimes due to the nature of the blockage).

Do plumbers clean drains?

Yes, when we use a drain cleaning machine or high pressure jet to unblock your drain it is also referred to as cleaning.

Sometimes we wish we could send a team of elves with scrubbing brushes down the drain for you, but we’ve yet to procure some.

How soon can you come out and unblock my drain?

For a sewage blockage we try to attend the same or next day.

For a stormwater blockage we try to attend the same or next week.

Priority is generally given in order of severity. If Grandma has sewage flooding her bathroom, she will be given priority over Dave who’s stormwater drain has been blocked for a while and he’s decided that today he might like to do something about it.

How do plumbers unblock drains?

If confined to the bowl sometimes can can use a plunger to unblock the toilet.

If a toy or a deodorizer is lodged in the back of the bowl we try to manually remove it, sometimes we need to remove the toilet bowl to do so.

If the blockage is in the below ground we use a drain cleaning/sectional machine (sometimes referred to as a drain snake) good for up to 100mm diameter.

Jetting – where we have been unable to clean the drain using a standard drain cleaning (sometimes due to length, sometimes due to the nature of the blockage).

How do we tell whether the blockage is confined to the bowl or in the main drain (trade secret, if we tell you we’ll be forced to kill you – hello detective work).

If you need help with your blocked drains, call Sunshine Plumbing now on 03 9311 9511.

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