What to do if you have a blocked drain.

Plumbers get more calls to open blocked drains than for any other service. Many of these calls could be prevented by taking greater care in the use of your drains. The drain that is most used is the drain in your kitchen sink and that is the drain that most often gets clogged. Prevention is always better than cure as you will save a ton of money. Preventative measures can be done by carefully watching what is emptied into the sink drain and by the regular use of a safe biodegradable drain and trap cleaner. There are 4 common blockages: 

1. Sink blockages:

Sink blockages are usually caused by liquid fats, emulsified by warm dishwater and carried through the pipes. The water cools as it proceeds to the main sewer and leaves the fatty deposits along the way. A film of grease forms on the pipe wall, then another and another. Bits of food add to this accumulation layer until the pipe becomes blocked. Pour excess grease into a tin can and throw it out with the garbage, not down the sink drain. When using a food disposer, always let sufficient cold water run to carry the particles down and into the main line to prevent build up in the smaller waste lines.

In the event of a blockage, you should have a "plumber's friend," or plunger - a large rubber suction cup with a wooden handle. Cup it tightly over the drain and plunge it vigorously several times. If it is a double drain sink, make sure you seal the other drain, so water will not splash out into the other bowl or on you. Blocked drain piping can also be cleaned by removing the J-bend on the trap below the fixture. First place adhesive tape around the packing nut or wrap the wrench jaws with cloth to prevent scratching the metal surface. If plastic piping is in place, tighten by hand don't tightly with the wrench, as they can crack easily. 

 Place a bucket directly under the pipe to catch any dripping from the open pipe. Pull out the clogging material with a piece of wire or small hand-turned cable. If you take the trap off, have some new gaskets ready to slip into the joints. 

2. Toilet blockage:

A clogged trap way in a toilet bowl is a ticklish problem, so be careful with whatever method you use for cleaning the drain. Most toilet bowls are made of vitreous china which might crack if exposed to extremely hot water.

A plunger will normally handle simple toilet clogs. Another method of cleaning a toilet bowl is the use of an auger with an adjustable, crank-type handle. Known to plumbers as a snake, the spring-steel coil is easily worked past the trap and down the pipe. A three foot auger is inexpensive and will quickly drill through most clogs. Use the auger carefully. Careless handling may crack the toilet. 

 If the rubber-cupped plunger or the auger does not clear the toilet, call your plumber. 

3. Bath tub blockage:

When trying to clear a blocked drain in your bath, place a heavy cloth in the bottom of the bathtub so your shoe soles won't scratch the bath's enamelled surface. Hold your hand or rag over the waste and overflow plate, cup the plunger over the drain and plunge it vigorously several times. 

If it doesn't open easily, the drain may require using a plumbers snake to open it. Heavy steel spring coils should not be used to clean traps under lavatories, sinks, or bathtubs. A more flexible type of wire or spring should be used, one which is easy to work through the bend of the trap. 

Removing the trap and cleaning it can solve the problem as hair and soap sludge can build up in the trap. Ensure you replace the rubber washers and only hand tighten if the trap is made of plastic.

4. Floor drains blockage: To clean out a blocked drain in the floor, remove the strainer or grating which covers the drain box. The dirt and grease can then be dug out with a spoon or a stick. After a hooked wire or coil spring-steel auger will clean out the bend or trap. Check to find out whether a removable clean-out plug has been provided to make this job easier. 

 When the clogging material has been removed from the trap, pour a pail or two of hot water into the drain to wash out any loose material. Check the strainer itself and clean it in hot water and soap in order to open all holes. The floor drain should be checked regularly, especially one that is not often used, since water in the trap may evaporate. This would allow sewer gases to enter the room. Pour a pail of water into the drain periodically in order to make certain of a proper water seal. 

So how do I prevent my drains getting blocked drain? 

It all comes down to proper disposal of waste. The following should not be flushed down the drain:
  • fats and oils
  • waste food
  • paints and solvents
  • disposable nappies and wipes
  • condoms
  • sanitary products
  • bandages and dressings
  • cotton wool and cotton buds
Once you have tried all these solutions and the drain is still blocked, it's time to call in the professionals! Be warned that some companies advertise a cheaper job rate then charge extra for unforeseen problems. Expect to pay $40-$100, this can be more if it’s on a weekend. If it transpires that it’s a collapsed drain causing the blockage expect to pay a lot more. Discuss the problem with the plumber on the phone and always get a quote in writing before work commences. If you choose to use kluje.com you will be able to put your budget and description in you post. In this way you will be setting the expectation and only plumbers that are interested in doing your job will contact you.

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