- Identify a drain with a blockage.
- Clear out a blocked drain.
- Prevent blockages in the future.
- Know your responsibility for unblocking public and private drains.
Find out the initial steps you’ll need to take if you face a blocked drain
- Locate the problem
If the water in your bath or toilet is not draining away properly, this is likely to be the result of a blocked drain.
- Do not use the drain
It may seem obvious, but don’t put any more water into the drain! This will only make the problem more severe and more difficult to resolve.
- Safety is a priority
Before tackling the blocked drain, make sure you stay safe by wearing full protective clothing (this includes gloves, goggles and overalls). Always remember to remove and clean your protective clothing after you’ve finished work.
Before you begin, make sure you have a set of drain rods, which can be hired or purchased at most hardware stores. Once you have placed on your protective clothing, follow the steps below:
- Clear the cover
Firstly remove the inspection cover on the drain. If the cover is rusted shut, use a screwdriver to scrape away the rust and then lift the cover off. If your drain cover has a useable handle, tie some string or wire to it, then pull the cover open.
- Remove the obstruction
Use a rod with a plunger attachment to remove the blockage – this may take several minutes of elbow grease by twisting and turning. Alternatively, you may want to try using a standard kitchen mop handle although this is unlikely to be as flexible as a purpose-made drain rod.
- Flush with water after removal
Once you’ve removed the blockage; flush the drain thoroughly with water to remove any remaining debris.
Unblocking a drain can be a difficult process, which is best avoided in the first place. Here are a few tips for preventing future drain blockages:
- Regularly monitor your drains
By checking your drains on a regular basis; you should be able to catch the start of any minor blockages before they get worse.
- Dispose of waste in the right way
Remember to dispose of rubbish in the right manner. Never flush away items such as face wipes, nappies or cotton wool, as these are likely to block your drains on a regular basis.
- Keep your drains clear of plants and roots
If possible, try to keep drains clear of roots and plants. If your garden is particularly leafy, try fitting drain guards to help prevent plant matter from falling in and causing blockages.
- Rinse plates before loading your dishwasher
Always rinse your plates and cutlery before loading your dishwasher. Any excess food will end up in your drains and could build up to cause an unwanted blockage.
Find out your responsibilities as a homeowner or renter and who to contact if you experience a problem with a public drain or sewer.
- Drain Responsibility
Homeowners and renters are generally responsible for their property’s drains, up to the property boundary. Your home insurance may or may not cover you for some drainage problems.
- Sewer Responsibility
Public and private sewers are the responsibility of waste and sewerage companies – not private homeowners or renters. You should immediately contact your water company if you encounter a problem.
- Reporting a blocked drain to the authorities
If a neighbour’s drain is overflowing and the water has leaked onto your home, contact your local council who’ll advise you on what action to take