It’s most common for the slimmer pipes around your home to become blocked, like those connected to your toilet or sinks, but outside drains can also become blocked with a build up of debris.
While it’s not a very pleasant job, it may be possible to unblock the drain yourself – so before you call in a professional, try following these steps.
The right equipment is vital if you’re going to try and unblock a drain yourself.
First and foremost, protective clothing is essential as there’s a chance harmful bacteria may have built up in the blockage. You should wear:
Other than protective clothing, you may need a bucket, hose and a drain rod. A drain rod is long, thin, strong and jointed and helps you get right into the blockage to break it up. Readily available at most DIY shops, you should be able to get one easily and without spending too much.
The first thing to do is try and identify the problem. It may not be straightforward to figure out exactly where the blockage is, so lift the trap drain cover and check:
If you can work out what the blockage is, you’ll be better able to tell if it’s something you can deal with or if you need help from a professional. Something that can easily be broken apart, like a build up of silt and leaves, would be easier to DIY than a completely solid blockage.
Being able to see and reach the blockage will make it easier to deal with, but you can still clear a blockage you can’t see/reach – it’ll just take a bit more patience and a little guesswork.
If you’re at all unsure how safe or easy it would be to attempt this job yourself, it’s best to leave it to a professional.
When you’ve got your equipment together, it’s time for the least pleasant part of the job. Making sure you’re wearing your protective clothing and you have your bucket handy, reach into the trap drain and clear as much of the blockage as you can.
Doing this will make it easier to clear whatever remains with your drain rod as there will be less debris to push through. If you can’t reach any of the blockage, skip straight to step four.
Next you’ll need your drain rod and a bit of patience. Find the nearest manhole cover to your trap drain, lift the cover off and set it aside. Feed the drain rod into the drain and through the blockage, moving it around to break up the debris. The rod will become easier to move as the blockage disintegrates, so it’s useful to pay attention to that if you can’t actually see the blockage.
Use water from your hose to help flush the debris away. Pouring water down the drain is also helpful if you can’t see the blockage as you’ll see the water level change as the blockage disperses. And don't forget to put the manhole cover back in place when you've finished.
If the above didn’t work, or it wasn’t safe to attempt, it’s time to call in a professional.
It could be that the blockage is bigger than you first thought or it’s something solid that can’t be dissolved or broken up. Either way, the pros will be better equipped to deal with it.
Here are a few tips to stop another blockage happening:
Keeping your gutters clean can also help as this stops leaves and other debris that can collect there potentially being washed down the drain, so take a look at our gutter cleaning tips and advice too.