Drain Cleaning: Common Problems and How to Solve Them

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Having clean drains is essential for properly functioning your plumbing system and the overall hygiene of your home.

When neglected, drains can become clogged with substances like hair, grease, food particles, and soap scum. This buildup restricts the water flow in flowing drains, leading to slow drainage or complete blockages.

Clean drains can prevent these issues, ensure efficient water flow, and avoid potential water damage to your property.

How Important is Professional Drain Cleaning?

Professional drain cleaning services are essential for the thorough cleaning of your drains and the early detection of potential issues.

Professional plumbers have specialised equipment and service that effectively removes stubborn clogs and ensures optimal drain performance. It is recommended to schedule professional inspections and cleanings annually or as a plumber advises.

Overview of Common Drain Problems

Drain problems can occur in various areas of your home, such as sinks, toilets, bathtubs, and showers. Common issues include clogged or blocked drains in sinks, backed-up toilets, slow-draining bathtubs and showers, and foul odours from clogged drains.

Recognising these problems and knowing how to address them can save you from the inconvenience and costly repairs and lead to potential health hazards.

drain cleaning

Causes of Sink Clogs

Sink and pipe clogs typically occur due to the accumulation of debris in the drainpipe, such as organic waste, such as food scraps, paper, soap residue, and grease.

Over time, these substances can cling to the pipe’s inner walls, constricting the pipe and water flow and resulting in a clogged sink.

Signs of a Clogged Sink

Signs of a clogged sink include slow drainage, water pooling, gurgling sounds from pipes in the drain, and unpleasant odours from pipes under the sink. If you notice any of these signs, it’s likely that your sink is clogged and requires immediate attention.

DIY Solutions for Unclogging Sinks

Here are several simple DIY solutions to fix a clogged toilet:

  • Using a plunger: Place the plunger over the drain, ensuring a tight seal, and vigorously plunge up and down several times. The suction created by the plunger helps dislodge the clog.
  • Pouring boiling water and vinegar: Boil a kettle and carefully pour it down the drain. Follow it up with a mixture of equal parts vinegar and hot water. Let it sit for about 15 minutes before flushing it with more hot water.
  • Using a drain snake: Insert it into the drain and rotate it clockwise while pushing it forward. If you encounter resistance, gently turn and push to break up the clog. Could you pull out the snake to remove the dislodged debris?

Understanding Backed-Up Toilets

Toilet backups occur when waste and water cannot flow through the toilet drain and sewer line.

This can be caused by a clog or blockage in the toilet trap, a blockage in the other drain cleaner sewer line, or a combination of both.

Signs of a Backed-up Toilet

Water rising to the tub or brim when flushing, gurgling sounds coming from the toilet, and water draining slowly or possibly not at all are all signs of a backed-up toilet. If you detect these indicators, you must repair the problem immediately to avoid overflowing and severe water damage.

Steps to Unclog a Toilet

  • Using a plunger: Position the plunger over the pipe and cover the drain hole, ensuring a good seal. Push down gently and then pull up rapidly. Repeat this motion several times until the water starts draining clear. Flush the toilet to check if the clog is completely cleared.
  • Applying a mixture of baking soda and vinegar: Pour one cup into the toilet bowl, followed by two cups of vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit for about 30 minutes. Then, flush the toilet to see if the clog has been dissolved.
  • Employing a toilet auger: Insert the drill into the toilet drain and turn the handle clockwise while applying gentle pressure. Continue pushing and rotating until you feel resistance or the clog is dislodged. Retrieve the auger and flush the toilet to confirm the clearance.

Slow Draining Bathtubs and Showers

Causes of Slow Drainage

Slow-draining bathtubs and showers are often caused by accumulated hair, soap residue, and mineral deposits in the drainpipe. These substances gradually restrict the water flow and drain cleaner, resulting in sluggish drainage.

Indications of Slow-Draining Bathtubs/Showers

Indications of slow-draining bathtubs and showers include standing water in the tub or shower basin that takes a long time to fill and drain, water pooling around your feet during a storm, and an unpleasant odour coming from the drain.

Methods for Improving Drainage

Removing hair and debris from blocked drains manually: Wear gloves and use a pair of needle-nose pliers or tweezers to carefully extract any visible hair or debris from the blocked drain. Be thorough in cleaning and removing as much material from the slow drain as possible.

Using a mixture of baking soda and salt: Mix equal parts baking soda and salt and pour the mixture down the drain. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then flush with hot water. The combination of baking soda and salt helps break down soap scum and dissolve mineral deposits.

Flushing roots with hot water: Boil a pot of water and pour it down the drain. The hot water helps dislodge roots and flush away dirt and any remaining residue, improving the flow of water.

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Foul Odours from Drains

Understanding the Causes of Drain Odours

Foul odours from drains are typically caused by a buildup of organic matter, such as hair, food particles, and grease, that decomposes over time. This decomposition releases unpleasant-smelling gases into your living space.

Identifying the Source of the Odour

To identify the source of the odour, check different drains in your home. The issue may be deeper in the plumbing system if the odour is present in multiple drains. If it’s isolated to a specific drain, the problem is likely localised to that area.

Solutions for Eliminating Drain Odours

  • Flushing blocked drains with hot water and vinegar: Mix equal parts of hot water and vinegar and pour it down the drain. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then flush with more hot water. The vinegar helps eliminate bacteria and neutralise odours.
  • Using baking soda and lemon juice: Sprinkle baking soda into the drain, followed by a generous amount of lemon juice. Allow the mixture to fizz, and then rinse and sit for 30 minutes before rinsing with hot water. Lemon juice acts as a natural deodoriser and cleans it.
  • Cleaning the P-trap: Place a bucket beneath the P-trap (located under the sink) to catch any water. Unscrew the nuts on both ends of the P-trap and remove it. Clean out any debris or buildup inside, then reassemble the P-trap and run water to check for odour elimination.

Preventive Measures for Clean Drains

Regular maintenance tips

  • Regularly flushing drains with hot water: Once a week, pour a kettle of hot water down each drain to help prevent buildup and keep the pipes clear.
  • Installing drain screens: Place drain screens or strainers over your sinks, showers, and tubs to catch hair, food particles, and other debris before they enter the drain.
  • Avoid pouring grease down drains: Instead of pouring grease down the drain, collect it in a heat-resistant container and dispose of it in the trash once solidified.

Professional drain cleaning service

  • Importance of professional inspections: Schedule regular professional inspections of your plumbing system to identify potential issues before they develop or escalate. Professionals can use specialised equipment to detect hidden clogs or damage.
  • Frequency of professional cleanings: Depending on your usage and the age of your plumbing system, consider scheduling professional drain cleaning services annually or as recommended by a plumber. This method ensures thorough cleaning of your drains and reduces the risk of clogs.

Start Your Effecient Drain Cleaning Now

This blog post explored common drain cleaning problems, including clogged sinks, backed-up toilets, slow-draining bathtubs and showers, and foul bathroom odours. We provided detailed DIY solutions for each problem, such as using plungers, applying baking soda and vinegar mixtures slow draining sinks, and employing drain snakes.

Drain Cleaning is crucial for the efficiency, effectiveness and longevity of your plumbing system. Regularly implementing preventive measures and promptly addressing any drain cleaning issues can prevent costly repairs, inconvenience, and potential health hazards.

We encourage you to adopt the preventive and repair measures discussed in this blog to protect and keep your drains clean, clear and functioning optimally. You can enjoy trouble-free plumbing and a healthy home environment by taking proactive steps and seeking professional assistance when needed.

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. See our Terms & Conditions here.

Last Edited on: 25th August 2023