how to unblock a drain

How to Unblock a Drain

Your Guide To Clearing Blocked Drains

Do you want to know how to unblock a drain?

Blocked drains are one of the most common plumbing problems in Australia. A blocked drain pipe can strike at any time and can affect even newly laid pipes, so it pays to be prepared.

If a blocked drain is left untreated, it can cause larger problems such as leaks and flooding. Severe clogs can even result in a burst water pipe, which can be very costly to repair.

Find out which 5 things should never go down your drain, so you can avoid a drain block in the first place.

If you are experiencing a blocked drain, it is possible that you have a bigger problem with your pipes or drains, such as a broken pipe or a root growing through it. If you are regularly having issues with your drains becoming blocked, it is always recommended that you get a CCTV drain inspection to ensure you do not have a more serious problem on your hands.

When a drain disaster hits, here are some quick fixes to help you unclog your drains fast.

Boiling Water

One of the easiest methods when first faced with a blocked drain is to try flushing it out with boiling water. This is certainly not a fail-safe method and will only work with very minor blockages, but is a good place to start before trying more complicated methods. Simply boil a kettle of water and pour it into the afflicted drain.

A word of caution- pouring boiling down plastic or PVC pipes is generally not advised because it can soften your pipes. While this method works best with metal pipes, you could alternatively simply use hot tap water to play it safe.

DIY Natural Cleaner

Another easy DIY drain clearing method is with natural cleaners. This method is great because you can use ingredients you probably have laying about your house. This method is particularly effective at clearing blockages caused by grease or other organic matter, such as food scraps.

All you really need is half a cup of bicarb and two cups of vinegar.

Start by siphoning the bicarb down the problem drain. Try and get it down the drain as deep as you can.

Next, pour half the vinegar into the drain. The vinegar will react with the bicarb and fizz. Cover the drain with a plate or flat plastic to direct the fizz down the drain (if your toilet is blocked, simply flush the toilet at this point).

Now, add the remainder of the vinegar and let it sit for one hour, or even longer, if possible. When the time is up, pour a kettle full of hot water down the drain or toilet to finish clearing up the natural cleaner and, hopefully, whatever was causing the blockage.


The faithful plunger is a tried and true method for clearing clogs. Most people have one tucked away in some corner of their houses. But when your drain is clogged, do you know how to wield your plunger?

Thankfully, they are pretty straight forward.

Simply place the plunger’s rubber flange over the mouth of the drain pipe. Pull back the plunger slightly to ensure you have created a seal. Pull the plunger in and out vigorously for several minutes or until you hear the drain make a gurgling sound. Make sure to keep the rubber flange covered in water to ensure it remains sealed. Keep some old towels on hand, things can get messy.

This method is most effective at clearing blocks caused by an accumulation of waste or by people putting the wrong things down their sinks.

Drain Unblocker Chemical

Another good solution is to purchase a drain unblocker chemical or drain unblocker liquid. These are very simple and easy to use. They simply need to be diluted with water or even just added directly to the toilet. They work similarly to baking soda and can help to break up any blockages caused by waste being washed down your drains.

CCTV Drain Inspection

Now it is time to get serious. If you have read this far, it probably means that your drain issue is more serious then a simple clog. It is possible you have damaged drainpipes and need a more comprehensive solution.

It may be that there is more than one blockage, that the blockage is further along than originally thought or that your pipes may be damaged or have collapsed. By using the latest CCTV drain camera technology, you can easily discover what’s creating the blockage. This removes any guesswork from the equation allowing the drainpipe to be efficiently and effectively repaired exactly where the issue is located.

Hydrojet and Electric Drain Machines

Once your drain issue has been identified by a CCTV camera, a Hydrojet drain cleaner or an electric drain machine can quickly destroy even the hardiest of blockages.

With a reach of close to 100 meters, a Hydrojet works by inserting a flexible cable down your drain. The Hydrojet then blasts extremely highly pressurised water through your pipes and drains, clearing blockages and even slicing through invading roots resulting in squeaky clean drains and pipes.

Similarly, an electric drain machine clears blocked drains by inserting a flexible cable with a versatile cutting edge attached down your pipes. It can then slice and cut through blockages but does has a shorter reach than a Hydrojet.


When things are really bad, it might be time to excavate your drains and pipes. Drain excavation is a last resort and is only used when all other methods have been completely exhausted.

A drain excavation is most regularly called for when a drain pipe has been completely destroyed. This can be the result of invading tree roots or shifting and compacting soil causing drainpipes to collapse. In these scenarios, it might be necessary to completely remove the damaged pipes completely and replace them. The biggest advantage of this method is that your new pipes will be better than new and, if done right, will probably never cause you any issues ever again.

Know When to Call the Professionals

Sometimes, you need to know when to call the pros if you need help unblocking your drain. If you have tried to unblock your drain with a plunger, bicarb or a chemical solution and are still having problems with a drain blockage, then it probably means you have a more serious problem on your hands. In these cases, you might need the services of an emergency plumber who can service your blocked drains or pipes.

Contact Metropolitan Plumbing when you need an expert who can use a CCTV inspection machine, a Hydrojet or an electric drain machine to clear your drains. As a last resort, we can even excavate your drains and pipes.

Published: 20 Feb, 2020

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