Blocked drains are a hassle at best and a disaster at worst… and when they’re recurring they can turn out to be very expensive. A lot of people are convinced that a trip to the hardware store and a few DIY tips prepare them to unclog things themselves. But did you know that, in many cases, trying to unblock drains yourself can cause more damage to your pipes?
This article explains what kind of pipe repairs you can easily and safely DIY and when you should call in the experts.
Clogged sinks vs clogged pipes
While there are usually some dead giveaways when it comes to whether you have a localised problem on your hands – such as water draining slowly from a single basin – it can sometimes be less obvious that a problem runs deeper.
The signs that you have a seriously blocked pipe are usually:
- Water pooling around and/or draining slowly from more than one drain
- Bubbling/gurgling drains, plug holes or toilets
- Waste rising from drains
- Strong, persistent foul odours.
All of these signs, particularly if they are persistent, point to a blocked sewer pipe and you should not try to problem solve this yourself.
On the other hand, if your sink, tub or basin is simply draining slowly or is backed up, it’s likely that either the plug hole is congested, or the u-bend (trap) is blocked with debris of various kinds. These can be relatively straightforward to unclog, with some precautions.
Safe DIY hacks for unclogging drains
Ideally, any method you use to unclog a plug or u-bend (trap) should pull debris out, rather than flush it further into the pipes.
We strongly caution against using:
- caustic chemicals – these are not only unsafe to handle, use and store, but they can cause damage to your pipes
- boiling water – this can cause fat, soap and other debris to settle further along the pipe
- DIY with plumbing equipment such as ‘eels’ or ‘snakes’ which can cause pipe breakages.
What we recommend:
- the old-fashioned rubber glove and bucket method of removing debris from your blocked drain or toilet
- draining and cleaning the trap under a blocked sink
- taking care not to cause blockages by not putting anything down drains/toilets that does not belong there (we all know what these things are).
The dangers of DIY plumbing tools
A plumbing tool in the hands of a qualified plumber is a good thing, but in the hands of an untrained handyman, it can be risky business.
Tools that are inserted into pipes to clear out debris need to be handled with extreme caution in case they make things a lot worse. Anything that goes into the pipe system with the aim to clear blockages can cause pipe corrosion, gouging and even breakages. Repeated use of these tools can make pipes impossible to repair, resulting in the (very expensive, messy and disruptive) need to dig up pipes and replace them.
In some regions, it’s also illegal to carry out pipe clearing work without a license and can result in hefty fines. Most home insurance policies won’t cover damage as a result of work carried out unlicensed either. It isn’t worth taking the risk.
When to call in a pipe clearing expert
If you’re experiencing recurring problems with clogged sinks, toilets, shower drains – particularly (as listed above) with more than one area affected at a time, you need a pipe specialist to come in and identify the issue. The longer you leave it, the worse things will get.
A trained and licensed Nuflow technician has the equipment to quickly and precisely identify the source of your problem. We provide you with CCTV footage and a report, as well as a fixed price quote to clear and clean the problem, and recommendations for any pipe repairs needed.
If you suspect that your clogged drain is too much to handle yourself, call 1800 870 207 (Australia), 09 887 1201 (New Zealand) or visit our contact page to book a no obligation quote for pipe clearing and cleaning.