Pipe Relining Blog

Blocked Drains: how to unblock them

Blocked Drains: how to unblock them

Okay, now we've discussed the common causes of blocked drains, let's discuss the common methods for unblocking them. These methods range from the DIY through to what Reline Solutions can offer for your blocked drain problems.

How to unblock a drain

How to unblock a drain?

There are 5 main ways to unblock a drain.

The Plunger

Unblock Drains with Plunger
Unblock Drains
with Plunger

For small, local blockages a plunger can quite often do a good job. Simply put your plunger over your drain, make sure you have a good seal and start to pump that thing. If you have several drains leading into the same pipe (eg. double sinks, bath and floor drains) make sure you seal up the other with a plug or similar.

This method is great for common blockages like hair and soap scum down your shower drain or fat and grease down your kitchen sink. However, it's not much good if the blockage is more substantial or further down the pipe.

Chemicals down the drain

Unblock Drains with Chemicals
Unblock Drains
with Chemicals

After attempting a blocked drain with a plunger with no success, most people will resort to the chemical approach. In this case, get some drain cleaning chemical and poor it down the drain, leave it for a period and then flush it with water and hope it worked. The chemicals used can be anything from Hair Removal Cream (if it's a hair blockage, what's better) or Bicarb of Soda/Vinegar (the friendly version) to a specific drain cleaning chemical like Drano.

Once again this method works fine for simple blockages close to the drain. Remember though our comment in the causes section about pipes becoming rough over time so they start to cause waste to stick. The use of strong chemicals (essentially acid) can speed up the deterioration of your pipe.

Plumber's Eel

Unblock Drains with Plumbers Eel
Unblock Drains
with Plumbers Eel

A common site on the back of many plumbers' Ute's is a Plumbers' Eel. These are essentially a long curly wire cable that is manually forced down your pipe to the blockage, where they are rotated to break up whatever is causing the blockage. The plumber will then run some water down your drain to try and flush away the debris.

These will break up most drain blockages, as long as they are within reach of the length eel the Plumber has. However, the further away the blockage is the harder it can be to force the eel down (particularly if there are several bends). But once again, remember the issue with damaged pipe surfaces causing future issues? The plumber's eel is a perfect candidate for damaging a pipes' lining.


Unblock Drains with Excavation
Unblock Drains
with Excavation

Probably the oldest method of fixing a blocked drain is to dig it up and replace the blocked section. Whilst this may give you a great end result, the process of doing it can be extremely inconvenient, messy and destructive to your home. Not to mention, sometimes it just isn't possible to dig up a pipe without having to dismantle a structure.

So if your pipe is easy to get to, then this could be a possible solution. But in most cases around your home, it just isn't really an option.

Water Jetter

Unblock Drains with Water Jetter
Unblock Drains
with Water Jetter

The modern way to unblock a drain is to use a Water Jetter. A Water Jetter is essentially a high-pressure hose that is pushed down your pipe and the water is used to break up the blockage. Not only will the high-pressure water break up the blockage, but it will wash away the debris at the same time. As the hose is more flexible than a Plumbers' Eel, you can work your way further down your blocked drain.

However, beware of Plumbers with home made Water Jetters where they simply get a High-Pressure Cleaner and attach a Water Jetter Nozzle to the end of it. These can create too much pressure with a limited flow of water and thereby cause damage to the pipe lining. A purpose designed Water Jetter should be high flow to minimise potential damage.

Bonus: Robotic Cutter

Unblock Drains with Robotic Cutter
Unblock Drains
with Robotic Cutter

I know we said there are 5 main ways to unblock a drain, but thought we should mention the 6th method for drains that are blocked by something more substantial than normal. A common example may be a tree root that has never been fully removed so has grown too thick for a Water Jetter etc to remove it. In this case, we can send down a Robotic Cutter that has a high-speed cutting head that will cut through pretty much anything (eg. Steel, Concrete and Tree Roots).

So now we know the different methods of unblocking drains, we can discuss the best ways to prevent it happening again. Read part 3 of our blocked drains series - How to prevent drains blocking again.

Remember Reline Solutions are your blocked drain specialist in SEQ. So contact us for your blocked drain issues.

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