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Unblocking sinks/toilets/drains    


Sinks will often block up with grease food waste lime-scale etc. A blocked sink is fairly obvious. You will probably notice a slowing down of the water draining away. Try to do something about the problem asap as it will be much easier to unblock and you don't want to end up with it badly blocked and a sink full of water!

There are various methods you can try both mechanical and chemical to fix a blocked sink.

How to unblock a sink

Checkout the trap. This u-shaped water trap stops smells coming back up from the drains.
You should be able to fairly easily unscrew the plastic fittings with your fingers.(if not dry using a damp tea-towel) Put a bowl underneath as you'll get a little water coming out.
Check the contents and make sure there's nothing inside. When you screw it back make sure the rubber seals are nicely in place.

This is the area to check if you lose any valables down the plughole.Heavy items often sit at the bottom rather than getting wahed away!

Check for leaks when it back together.
If the problem is still there the blockage may be further down the waste pipe.


Plunging a blocked sink

This can be effective and works by forcing air down the pipe. A traditional black rubber plunger is OK but modern ones or professional ones are much more effective as they force more air down the pipe. Some use water which is forced against the blockage.

Tip This method will only work well if you block off any ways the air can escape like the overflow outlet, an adjacent sink plug hole, or a waste disposal. Hold a damp cloth over them, or, cover then with duck tape (thick heavy sticking tape)

Master plunger. Gives great plunging action. Sinks baths, showers. £7

Water plunger. Sucks up water then pumps it against the blockage. Toilet, sinks, showers. B&Q £7

Other mechanical methods

Drain cleaning springs are essentially very long flexible springs which you guide down the waste pipe and turning as you go.

You can buy different size springs depending on whether its for for large or small pipes and different lengths. Can be very effective but a bit messy and not very pleasant to use especially if you use one for toilet blockages! Wear rubber gloves!

Small drain spring. This one is for basins.


Chemical un-blockers work by dissolving organic materials. These are very good at dissolving hair that you might find in the waste or trap of a shower or bath whose traps can be fiddly to get to.

Various chemical types are available which you simply pour down the drain. Some are stronger than others. Those you get in a supermarket tend to be milder and can be useful for minor blockages and prevention.

For more severe blockages you'll probably need something stronger. Caustic soda is a powered chemical which you mix with water. CAUTION it can be dangerous you if you don't handle it properly or follow the instruction very carefully. As well as causing chemical burns it tends to react with water generating heat. One-shot un-blocker is very similar. It is a very strong liquid sulphuric acid. Again follow the instruction to the letter!! AND keep well out out reach of children


Other methods for a blocked sink

Some newer types of un blockers are currently available in a large aerosol which shoot a blast of air or liquid down the waste pipe. These can be highly successful, but only if you remember to make sure that every other exit is blocked off(see my tip above) similarly as you would when using a plunger.

The disadvantage is the aerosol runs out quite quickly and has the be replaced.


Power plunger aerosol unblocker
Works on sinks, toilets, showers etc. Available from B&Q



I've never had much success with attempting to unblock WC's with chemical means so I tend to use mechanical methods.

Plunging is effective but the key here is to get something that creates a good seal on your toilet otherwise it won't be as effective.

Springs are are good but you've got to be careful you don't scratch the pan. Plumbworld again do a spring specifically for toilets with a vinyl guard to avoid it scratching.


For outside drains use drain rods. This is not a very pleasant job at all. Drain rods are a series of flexible plastic rods which screw together. They come with various attachments which screw to the very end. For general drain unblocking I tend to use the claw. I like it as goes it easily and you can twist round when you feel an obstruction.

Your drains will normally flow from the house towards the street. Occasionally they will go the other way out through the garden.

You should find one or more large round or rectangular metal drain covers along the route. They are quite heavy so be careful when lifting them. Use a special drain lifting tool or if you can't get hold of one prise it up with a heavy duty screwdriver.

If you can see water in side then it's blocked further along towards the main sewer so that is the place to try the rods.

Use rubber gloves to feed the rods inside the drain. Eventually you should feel the blockage. Either use to the claw to twist and pull back toward you or push and twist the blockage till it frees up and the water flows.

                      Set of drain rods with attachments.

If when you take up the cover the drain is clear then the blockage will probably be somewhere back towards the house. Try rodding backwards. Again I would tend to use the claw. If you push gently you can normally feel when you hit a blockage.

The worst thing about rodding is that when you've sorted the blockage you then have to get the drain rods out and put them away. It can be a smelly horrible job (hence use rubber gloves).

Have a hose pipe handy. I like where possible to hose each rod down as I dissemble it whilst I'm pulling it out then have a quick hose down into the drain before replacing the cover.
      Screw each rod in as you push further into the drain. Unscrew each one as you remove them. (I strongly advise you wear rubber gloves. Yuk!!)