How to Clear Blocked Drains

Plumber Clearing a Blocked Drain

Blocked drains can be a major headache to any residential and commercial owners, causing a huge inconvenience and potential damage to your property.

Whether it’s a clogged shower drain, a blocked-up toilet bowl, or even a blockage in your kitchen sink, dealing with this plumbing issue promptly is essential.

This comprehensive guide will explore effective methods to clear a blocked drain, from simple DIY solutions to when it’s time to call a professional plumber. So, let’s dive in and learn how to tackle those pesky drain blockages!

Hot Water Method

The hot water method is a straightforward and effective way to clear minor blockages in drains. Utilising heat power, you can dissolve substances in outdoor drains like grease and other debris that may be causing the blockage. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use the hot water method:

  1. Begin by boiling water until it reaches a near-boiling point. The hot water should be hot enough to help break down the drain blockage but not boiling to the point of damaging your pipes.
  2. After pouring boiling water, give it time to work its magic. The heat will help soften and dissolve the grease, food debris, or toilet paper causing the blockage. It’s best to leave the hot water in the drain for 10 to 15 minutes before moving on to the next step.
  3. Once the hot water has had time to work, turn on the faucet and let some cold water run through the drain. If the water flows freely, congratulations! You have successfully removed the blocked drains.

It’s important to note that the hot water method is most effective for minor clogged drains caused by substances like food debris or excessive toilet paper usage.

Blocked Drains

Baking Soda and Vinegar Solution

The baking soda and vinegar solution is a popular and eco-friendly method for clearing blocked drains. Combining these two ingredients creates a chemical reaction that produces a foaming action, which can effectively break down debris and clear blockages. Here’s a detailed explanation of how to use this method:

  1. First, ensure you have baking soda, vinegar, and hot water. Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a natural cleaning agent, while vinegar, typically white distilled vinegar, is an acidic substance that helps to dissolve blockages.
  2. Start by directly pouring half a cup of baking soda into the blocked drain. The baking soda will act as a mild abrasive, helping to loosen and break down any solid debris causing the blockage.
  3. After pouring the baking soda, immediately pour half a cup of vinegar into the drain. The baking soda and vinegar mixture will create a bubbling and foaming reaction. This reaction helps to dislodge and dissolve the blockage by breaking down organic matter, grease, and other substances.
  4. Cover the drain with a cloth or a drain stopper to maximise the effectiveness of the baking soda and vinegar solution. This will contain the foaming action inside the drain, allowing it to work more effectively on the blockage. Leave the mixture to sit for about 15 minutes. During this time, the foaming action will work on breaking down the blockage.
  5. After 15 minutes have passed, remove the cover from the drain and carefully pour hot water down the drain. The hot water will help to flush away the dissolved debris and clear the drain further. Run the hot water for a few minutes to completely wash away all the dissolved particles.
  6. Repeat the baking soda and vinegar solution if the blockage persists after the first attempt. Sometimes, stubborn blockages require multiple treatments to clear them completely.

This drain cleaning method is particularly effective for a mild clogged drain caused by organic matter, soap scum, or hair. It also has the added benefit of eliminating foul odours from the drain.

Drain Snake or Auger

A drain snake or drain auger can rescue when dealing with a stubborn blocked sewer drain that cannot be cleared with simple DIY methods. These tools are readily available at most hardware stores and can be a valuable addition to your plumbing toolkit. Here’s a detailed explanation of how to use a drain snake or auger to clear a blockage:

  1. Purchase or rent a drain snake that suits the size and type of your drain. Drain snakes typically consist of a long, flexible cable with a coiled or hooked end. Some drain snakes are manually operated, while others can be attached to a power drill for added efficiency.
  2. Start by inserting the coiled or hooked end of the drain snake into the drain opening. Slowly push the snake into the drain while applying gentle pressure. Keep feeding the snake further into the pipe until you encounter resistance, indicating the location of the blockage.
  3. Once you’ve reached the blockage, begin rotating the snake in a clockwise direction. This rotational motion helps the snake grab onto or break up the blockage. It is essential to maintain a firm grip on the snake’s handle and apply steady pressure while rotating to maximise its effectiveness.
  4. As you rotate the snake, it will either grab the blockage or break it into smaller pieces. Continue turning and pushing the snake further into the pipe to dislodge the blockage entirely. Be cautious not to use excessive force, as it may damage the pipes, especially if made of metal or ceramic.
  5. You have two options once the blockage has been broken up. If possible, gently pull the snake back, bringing the dislodged debris along. Alternatively, you can push the broken pieces through the pipe by rotating the snake and pushing it further into the drain.
  6. After clearing the blockage, run hot water down the drain to flush away any remaining debris and ensure the pipe is completely clear. This step helps to prevent future build-up and provides proper drainage.

It’s crucial to exercise caution when using a drain snake or auger to avoid damaging the other drain pipes themselves. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and be mindful of any specific guidelines provided with the tool.

Prevention Tips to Avoid Blocked Drains

Averting blocked drains is always better than dealing with them after they occur. Here are some simple steps you can take to prevent blocked drains and keep your then flowing freely:

  • Avoid pouring grease or oil down the drain; instead, collect it in a container and dispose of it properly.
  • Use drain guards or strainers to catch hair, food debris, and other solids before they enter the drain.
  • Be mindful of what you flush down the toilet. Use only toilet paper and avoid flushing items that can easily cause blockages.
  • Regularly clean your drains by pouring a mixture of baking soda and vinegar down the drain and flushing it with hot water.
  • Consider installing a lint trap on your washing machine discharge hose to prevent lint from clogging the drain.

Blocked Drain in Bathroom

When to Call a Professional Plumber

Knowing when to call an experienced plumber is essential to ensure the proper and safe resolution of complex or persistent blockages such as stormwater drains. While many minor blockages can be handled through DIY methods, certain situations require a professional’s expertise and specialised equipment. Here are some scenarios in which it’s best to seek the assistance of a certified plumber:

  • Severe Blockages
  • Underground Pipes
  • Burst Pipes
  • Unsuccessful DIY Attempts
  • Complex Issues
  • Pipe Relining or Tree Root Intrusions
  • Blocked Drain Repairs and Replacements

A professional blocked drain plumber has the skills, experience, and equipment to handle various plumbing issues effectively and efficiently. They can ensure the blockage of sewer pipe is cleared, and the drainage system is restored to proper functioning. Moreover, by addressing the root cause of the jam, plumbers can help prevent future incidents and provide valuable advice for maintaining a healthy plumbing system.

When choosing a plumbing service provider, consider hiring licensed and reputable professionals with positive reviews and a track record of delivering quality service. By relying on their expertise, you can have peace of mind knowing that your plumbing system is in capable hands.


Clearing blocked drains can be a manageable task. Using suitable methods and preventive measures allows you to keep the water flowing from your drains and avoid potential plumbing disasters.

Remember, try the DIY solutions mentioned earlier for minor blockages, but feel free to call a trusted plumber when faced with more severe or persistent drain blockages.

Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work.