First thing is to do is investigate to see if there’s an obvious reason for the blockage. Has anything been pushed down the plughole like a small plastic item such as a Lego brick, or a similar foreign object? Every plug hole gets blocked at some point in time caused by shampoo, hair and conditioner deposits, mineral deposits, and skin and body oils, all of which narrow the internal bore of the waste pipe.
At some point, the escaping water will slow and not be able to flow freely to drain.
Unlike other plumbing and sanitary maintenance, unclogging a bath or shower drain is relatively easy. There are some simple steps that require minimal skills without the need to engage a professional plumber.
It also saves money if you can do it yourself!
Prevention is always better than the cure (so they say) and good cleaning habits and toilet management can avoid restrictions in the waste pipes.
The main causes?
The combination of oils, hair, skin, dirt, soap, and hair products are the main culprits of blockages. There is another, and that’s gravity? Water relies on gravity to drain away. However, if the fall and angles of the drainage pipe are incorrect it contributes to the accumulation of materials resulting in a blockage.
This is usually encountered when a confined space has been converted into a shower cubicle or toilet. When pushed for space pipe falls and angles are compromised.
To be extra vigilant it is always worth lifting the main sewer cover of the property to check if any tree roots are a contributing factor. If they are lopped them back as far as possible.
Most blockages are remedied by removing the ‘U’ trap. It can be a tad awkward but it’s likely to be harboring all the ‘gunk’ and debris that’s caused the blockage and should always the first port of call.
Once the ‘U’ trap is removed soak it for a while in a strong detergent capable of dissolving the ‘gunk’. Then using a flexible tube cleaning brush vigorously brush the ‘U’ trap until all the residues are removed.
Give it one last soak, dry off and reinstall. Make sure the rubber seals are seated correctly (and are spotlessly clean) during assembly.
If you are a keen Do It Yourself person here a few things you can easily carry out.
DIY easy remedies
1. Baking soda and vinegar.
2. Commercial Chemicals.
4. Drain stopper removal.
5. Plumber’s drain snake.
These options are basic but effective.
If it’s the first time you’ve attempted something like this always consider protective clothing rubber gloves etc. A few towels beneath the trap to contain any spillages is good housekeeping.
1. Baking Soda and Vinegar
If you want a natural and organic solution this one may appeal as it’s not so aggressive as some of the more powerful cleaning solutions.
I. Take a half cup full of baking soda and pour into the drain mouth making sure all has dropped into the waste pipe.
II. Take a cup full of white vinegar and pour it down the plug hole.
III. After a few minutes a chemical reaction occurs to dissolve the ‘gunk’.
IV. Now run the hot water tap, which will flush through the soda and vinegar mix. This may need to be repeated depending on the stubbornness of the blockage.
V. Run the tap, if the water is flowing freely to drain, it’s been successful?
The above works fairly well with minor blockages. For really stubborn blockages we may need to turn to commercial chemicals.
2. Commercial Chemicals
These can be purchased at most DIY store at affordable prices. Always read the instructions carefully before use and follow the safety advice (mask, goggles and gloves). They might be age restrictions on some drain cleaners and ID will be required?
Only use commercial chemicals when the blockage is immovable. Do not mix with other commercial chemicals as the reaction could be unpredictable and cause more harm than good. They can give off extremely strong fumes which must be avoided for safety reasons
3. The Plunger
Plungers can be effective with simple blockages. However, if matted hair is mixed with oils and debris it can be a challenge!
I. Apply a layer of petroleum jelly (similar to Vaseline) round the circumference of the suction pad, this improves the sealing effect.
II. Make sure the rubber plunger is submerged under water.
III. Once in position vigorously and forcibly plunge up and down.
4. Plumber’s Snake
A hand held device used on minor clogs in all types of pipework. The drain snake can be fed down the plug hole to make physical contact with the obstruction. By turning the handle the snake begins uncoiling as it goes deeper into the pipe work where it eventually breaks up the blockage.
Some points on usage:
I. Push the snake down the pipe until contact is made with the blockage.
II. Use a back and forth motion to impact the blockage until the snake moves freely indicating the blockage has been broken up.
III Rotate the handle to retract the snake from the drain.
IV. Run the tap to check the flow.
V. The process may have to be repeated until you are satisfied the drain is blockage free!
Still not draining as it should?
Then call serviceteam to arrange for an experienced plumber to attend and free the blockage.
Better Safe Than Sorry
It’s likely the blockage could have been prevented in the first place?
To stop further blockages place a Bath/Shower, Hair Trap stopper and collector over the plug hole. This will collect the debris produced when showering or bathing and prevent it from entering the ‘U’ bend, keeping the pipework free of any debris!