How To Unblock A Drain

unblock a drain

Rubber gloves
Set of drain rods
Bucket or hose

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A set of drain rods with screw and plunger ends costs from around £17 from plumbers' merchants.


Less than 30 minutes for most minor blockages.


Novice - you just need to be prepared to put up with the pong...

Lift The Cover And Check The Chambers

Step One: Lift The Cover And Check The Chambers

Lift the drain inspection cover nearest to the house to see if the chamber is full of water. A spade is useful to lever up the edge of the cover if there are no handles or if you don't have the keys to fit the cover. If the chamber is empty, the blockage is somewhere in the soil pipe from the house to the chamber. If there's water in the inspection chamber, the problem is further along the pipework, nearer the mains sewer. Check the next chamber until you have isolated the problem area - between full and empty inspection chambers.

Insert The Drain Rods

Step Two: Insert The Drain Rods

Screw together two or three of the drain rods and the plunger head and push the end into the pipe opening, towards the blockage. Slowly rotate the rods clockwise to make it easier to push them forward. Never twist them anti-clockwise or the rod connectors will unscrew and come apart in the drain.

Dislodge The Blockage

Step Three: Dislodge The Blockage

Keep adding extra sections of drain rod until you feel resistance in the pipe. Move the plunger quickly back and forth to try and dislodge the blockage. If this doesn't work, remove the rods and fit the screw attachment. Keep twisting and pushing the rods until water flows through. Try to pick out any loosened debris as it comes to the inspection chamber.

Run The Taps

Step Four: Run The Taps

Run the hot taps in the house and add a detergent to dislodge any fat and clean through the pipes. Leave the taps running for at least five minutes and check the water flows away as normal. Replace the inspection cover. Clean off the drain rods with plenty of fresh water and leave to dry before packing away. If the water still doesn't flush away, call in a professional.

Illustrations: Ed Roberts


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