The best way to unblock drains: exploring the available methods

A blocked drain can range from a minor annoyance to an emergency, but it is a problem that will only get worse unless it is dealt with quickly and effectively. There are lots of different ways to approach the problem, but some are much more effective than others, and some can come with unexpected negative consequences that mean they are best avoided.

Here, the drainage specialists at Lanes Group explain the different solutions that are available, and offer advice on the best way to unblock drains and prevent the problem from recurring.

Home-made cleaning products

In an emergency, many people are tempted to create cleaning solutions using ingredients they can find around their homes, but it is never advisable to use these home remedies. Popular concoctions use bicarbonate of soda, baking soda or caustic soda, mixed with water or vinegar, to create foamy solutions that, in some cases, are effective at removing blockages. This is because these mixtures are corrosive and can burn away the deposits of food or waste that are causing the blockage.

However, because these products are corrosive, they also come with serious side effects for both people and pipes. They can irritate the skin and cause burns, and even prove fatal if inadvertently ingested. Beyond this, they can degrade your pipes and if used regularly, can damage them beyond repair and create much larger and more expensive problems for you to deal with.

Shop-bought cleaning products

While unblockers you buy from the shops will probably be less corrosive to your pipes than homemade concoctions, they often contain the same active ingredients that make bicarbonate of soda or caustic soda effective. Unfortunately, this means that they will still be somewhat corrosive and if used regularly, can significantly damage the quality of your drainage system.

Though it might seem like the easiest solution in the short term, it can be much more expensive to replace or reline a pipe than to have a professional deal with a blockage, so it is best to avoid using these types of products. If you find that your drains are becoming blocked on a regular basis, you should think about why this might be. One of the most common causes is the incorrect disposal of food waste, sanitary products or wet wipes down drains, and if you think this might be the root cause of your frequent blockages, try disposing of waste in the bin instead and see if this improves the problem.

Drain unblocker devices

We’ve outlined the possible negative side effects of using chemical products to clear blockages in your sink, but using a drain unblocker device can completely avert all of them. These devices come in many shapes and sizes, but are usually flexible metal rods that will spin or vibrate to dislodge any material that has accumulated in your drains and caused a blockage.

With no corrosive properties, these drain unblockers are unlikely to damage your pipes, but there are other things to consider before using one. They are only suitable in certain circumstances, depending on the location and nature of the blockage, because they are limited in length and often cannot be submerged in water.

One consequence that many people don’t consider is that while these devices will break up blockages, they don’t remove them. These particles are washed further down into the drainage system during the process, and in some cases, this can create much bigger problems.

These pieces can attach to fatbergs, which are large accumulations of fat, grease, oil, food scraps, sanitary products and other things that are incorrectly flushed down drains. Fatbergs harden and can cause enormous blockages, which are expensive and time consuming to remove.

Professional unblocking

The best way to unblock drains is to contact a drainage professional to provide drain cleaning services. They will have multiple different ways of approaching blockages, which means that they can tailor their service to your needs, and will ensure that once the blockage is removed, it is vacuumed out of the pipe and disposed of by a licensed waste management company.

They can also help to monitor the condition of your pipes, warn you of any problems that might emerge, and give you advice on how best to maintain your drainage system and keep it in good condition. In some cases, these services will be covered by home insurance policies, which can help to ensure that professional unblocking is even more affordable, as well as being the most effective option.

To find out more about the services available from the drainage professionals at Lanes, call us on 0800 526 488.