In the latest of our #FixForwardFix series, where we tackle common household DIY issues, we chatted to Fix Forward plumber John Hopley about something that everyone has encountered at some point or another – blocked drains.
Having joined us at Fix Forward in December 2016, John is still fairly new to our program but said that he has already benefitted tremendously. Aside from the extra work he now enjoys, John has also found our business workshops to be really helpful and already feels more confident handling quotations and customer relations. We met up with John at our offices in Cape Town to get his expert advice how to unblock a drain.
Household Drain Maintenance
First things first – and this is often easier said than done – always be mindful of what is going down your drains to begin with. Household drains have a ‘U-Shape’ trap that keeps outside waste and smells from getting inside, and oftentimes the blockage is a result of overloading the trap with solid waste that it isn’t meant to process. For the toilet, try and limit the amount of toilet paper you flush down and steer clear of throwing any foreign objects into the loo too. In the kitchen, fit a food trap over your kitchen sink to catch all the solid bits and avoid putting excess fat down the drain as it tends to congeal and block the drain when too much builds up.
Unblocking A Drain
When it comes to unblocking a drain or toilet, there are a number of options to try depending on the severity of the blockage. Here are a few suggestions in the order that you should try them:
Get Heated: Pouring boiling water down the drain will dislodge any bits of fat or grease that may be obstructing the flow of water.
Clear the Trap: Place a bucket under the sink and unscrew the cap at the bottom of the ‘U-Bend’ – oftentimes this will be clogged with hair or some other solid that can be easily removed.
Take the plunge: Sometimes you just can’t beat the efficacy of a simple plunger. The strong force generated by the downward flow of air or water can unblock even the most stubborn of drains or toilets. Pro tip: when unblocking a kitchen sink, cover the overflow with a wet cloth to create good pressure, and do the same to the second drain if you have a double sink.
The Green Option: Make a homemade drain unblocker with vinegar and bicarbonate of soda. Mix 1/2 cup salt, 1/2 cup bi-carb and 1 cup of vinegar with 1 cup hot water and pour the solution down the drain, wait for half and hour and then flush with cold water. This will also help to neutralise any odours.
The Chemical Option: A staple in the trade, caustic soda (or sodium hydroxide) is a metallic alkali of sodium that comes as pellets or prepared solutions. Strong and effective, there aren’t many drains that remain blocked after a dose of caustic soda. Be sure to take appropriate safety precautions when handling this toxic substance.
Call the Professionals: Still battling with a blocked drain and unpleasant odours even after trying the above a few times? It could be a job for John and his team. Click the button below and we’ll get a plumber over quicker than you can spell Bicarbonate of Soda!