Large image of household plungers: on the left, a toilet plunger, on the right, a sink plunger. Deutsch: Handbetriebene Saugglocken der Sanitärtechnik (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
During these tough economic times it is tempting to try to do basic DIY jobs ourselves. This includes simple plumbing and drain clearance jobs. But beware, there are pitfalls to catch out the unwary DIY plumber.
Most minor blockages can be diagnosed and dealt with easily, as long as the person doing the unblocking pays close attention to a few basics.
Don’t take the plunge
When faced with a blocked sink or toilet the first thing that most of us reach for is the plunger. This simple device removes blockages by producing an airtight seal and creating suction to remove debris.
Interestingly enough, however, many plumbers don’t count plungers as part of their tool kits, and for good reason. Not only do they create a dangerous mess by splashing toilet water around, they can also push the obstruction farther into the pipe. Augers work much better.
Take care with chemicals
Commercially available chemicals are easy to use and very effective at removing blockages but they can be extremely dangerous to health and to the environment. They should be handled with care while wearing gloves and protective eyewear in case of splashing.
Keep an eye on slow drains
There are other Eco-friendly liquids marketed for unblocking drains, including Drain Doctor’s own micro biological MS enzyme cleaner. They contain natural enzymes or microorganisms that can deal with organic obstructions in the pipe. They are intended for use on drains that begin to develop issues and are more of a preventative measure. Boiled water with sea salt can also be an effective pipe flush if done periodically, helping to avoid future messy cleanups caused by full-blown blockages.
If you are in any doubt about how to tackle a particular job then call the professionals. Drain Doctor is available around the clock 365 days of the year on 0800 3357 999.
According to an item on Chris Evans‘ Radio 2 Breakfast Show, as a nation we are spending more time each day in the kitchen. Kitchens are getting bigger and as they do we spend more time in them because they become the centre of the home. Householders are preparing more food and as a result are tipping more waste down the kitchen sink – creating greater potential for blockages.
A blocked sink might not seem like a big problem but leave it to worsen and before long you might need to get professional help. There are, however, some things that you can do to avoid blockages in the first place. After all, prevention is better than cure they say.
Firstly, avoid putting things down the plughole that can restrict the flow of water. Don’t put cooking oils and fats down the sink or the outside drain. Oil and grease can build up in the pipes over time causing serious blockages and can pollute watercourses. Save old milk cartons and use them to pour the used oil into. You can then dispose of the oil-filled carton in the bin.
When you’re washing up after that romantic dinner for two or large family meal, scrape any waste food into the bin, even if you’re washing up in the sink, to avoid waste blocking the waste pipe under the sink. Waste can build up over time and may block the pipes and drains. It can also create some unpleasant smells in the kitchen as it rots in the pipes.
If you do need to unblock the sink then you can use any number of products that are available at your local supermarket or you could try unblocking the sink using Alka Seltzer or baking soda and a little vinegar. The fizzing chemical reaction should loosen the material, which can then be washed away by pouring some hot water down the plughole.
If you can’t clear the blockage your self then you will need to call in the professionals – like Drain Doctor - who can quickly find the source of the blockage and quickly remove it, particularly if it is further down the system than DIY solutions can fix.
Forget the internet, social media and new technology. When it comes to lagging the pipes they are useless. Good old-fashioned printed-on-paper newspapers, though, appear to have much to recommend them.
A plumber in the USA has just found 60 year old newspapers used as pipe lagging which seem to have successfully protected the plumbing against freezing for six decades.
It’s not what Drain Doctor would recommend. But it obviously works.
Tell us of any unusual DIY solutions to plumbing problems that you’ve come across.