How do plumbers clear blocked drains
If you've experienced toilet clogs, or drain clogs of any kind, you might find yourself reaching for the chemical drain cleaners. But that isn't how the professional plumbers would handle it, so why should you? The best way to tackle a clogged drain is by trying to do it as a professional would, or calling the professional plumbers to help you out. So how do plumbers clear a blocked drain?
Well, they certainly don't rely on just pouring hot water down the bathroom sink, and it is unlikely that any of them will use white vinegar and baking soda on your sink drain. They bring the big tools, and that's why plumbers can help with even the most stubborn clogs.
1. They determine the cause of the clogged drains
Determining what it actually is that is clogging the drain is a big part of being able to unclog drains. Typically, there are certain types of clogs for certain drains. Tub drains are usually blocked by hair, clogged sinks in the bathroom are usually clogged by toothpaste or soap scum, clogged drains in the kitchen are usually blocked by grease or food particles, and clogged toilets are usually caused by toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, baby wipes or too much excrement.
Figuring out what is the problem allows the plumber to avoid wasting unnecessary time, and prevents any damage coming to your pipes from them handling the issue in the wrong way.
Tools used to determine the cause of a blocked drain
- Pipe camera
A pipe camera allows the plumber to see what is going on within the pipe walls. This helps them to correctly gauge where and what is causing the blocked shower drain or toilet, or wherever else the issue is in order to correctly handle it.
2. They try to break up the blockage
If there is a blockage that looks like it can be broken up, the plumber will endeavour to do so. This is a simple and fast method of unclogging a drain, and is the least messy way of fixing a drain system.
Tools used to break up drain clogs
- A manual drain snake or drain auger
A drain snake or drain auger is a wire-like piece of kit that is inserted down into the sewer line and then withdrawn and replaced multiple times to poke and prod at the clog. The drain snake will eventually poke the clog so much that it breaks up, and then when the drain snake is withdrawn completely, the plumber can run hot water down the pipe to wash away the pieces of blockage.
- A motorised drain snake or drain auger
Motorised drain augers are the same as manual drain snakes except they do the poking on their own. They do not require wheeling in and out each time as a manual drain snake does and work much quicker on clogged drains because of this.
3. They try to remove the blockage
If the plumber's snake doesn't work, then they will move on to trying to remove whatever is causing the clogged drain. This is a messy process and often requires them to cover your room in towels. It can often also get quite pungent whilst they do this, as the air and water from your plumbing system come back through into the house.
Tools used to remove blockages
A plunger is the stereotypical plumbing tool. Anyone who offers plumbing services will have one and it is often the first tool used. It forms a vacuum seal around the drain opening and pulls at whatever is causing the clogged drain until it eventually moves and frees up the pipe. The plumber can then run hot water down the drain to ensure it is cleared.
- Hydro jetting machine
Hydro jetting machines are a new addition to a plumber's kit and are great for fixing a really stubborn clog. The machine fires a highly pressurised stream of water through the pipe, essentially working like a drain snake to break apart and move the stubborn clogs away from their place within the pipe.
4. They will take the pipes apart and manually remove the clog
If none of that works, your plumber may take the pipes apart to remove the clog completely. This is a long job and a messy, smelly one too. It is rare that this has to happen, and is often the result of ignoring signs of a blocked drain for a long time. This is typically done with a usual toolkit.
What can you do to unclog drains without relying on plumbing services?
If you've noticed a slow drain in your home, or that your garbage disposal isn't working as it should, there are a few things that you can do that won't require a plumber's help. You can try to use baking soda and white vinegar to create a chemical reaction that will break up a clog - this works best in kitchen sinks. Or you can unwind a wire hanger and create your own drain snake to push through the pipe system. Sometimes, even just pouring hot water down your drain can fix slow drains and bad smells from your drain line!
It is important to avoid chemical drain cleaners and boiling water, though, as these can cause damage to your pipework which may eventually cause you more hassle down the line. If you've tried using half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of vinegar, and have tried poking at the clog, just phone a professional plumber and get a free quote. They'll know how to unclog drains better than you do, anyway!