How to Unblock an Outside Drain
Oh no! You’ve discovered your outside drain’s blocked and your immediate thought is: ‘how much is this going to cost me?’
We get it; when something goes wrong in the home it can bring stress faster than you can ask a friend or family member: ‘what’s the number for a local expert?’
But first things first: don’t panic. There could well be a few things you could try before calling out a professional – and we’re here to guide you through them here in this handy article. So sit down, have a read and relax. For now, at least.
How can you unblock an outside drain?
While some drain blockages will require the help of a professional, many can be repaired with very minimal effort and tools – and you can do it yourself too.
If you don’t have a problem getting stuck in and possibly getting a bit grimy (and smelly!), here’s a few things you can try to unblock that drain:
Determine the Problem
It all starts with you simply working out that the problem is and if it’s easily fixed. While shower drains can get blocked up as a result of hair shedding or the products you use on your hair or body making their way down the drains, your outside drains may become blocked with leaves, grease or other debris and dirt.
Gather the Necessary Tools
If you’re certain that you’re going to have a go at tackling the problem yourself, make sure you’re wearing the appropriate protective clothing. You’ll also want to get hold of set of drain rods.
Remove the Drain Cover – The next step is simply to remove the drain cover; you could do this with a screwdriver if needs be. If not, there may be a handle to grip in order to do the job. Still struggling? Tie some rope around the handle and give it a good tug to see if it budges that way.
Take a Peek Inside the Drain – It’s not a very glamorous job but someone’s got to do it if you’d like an unclogged drain. Is the drain chamber filled with water? If so, the blockage will be somewhere after the chamber. If the chamber’s empty, however, the blockage will be before it. Working your way along the chamber, try to locate a chamber that is between a full one and an empty one.
Grab Your Drain Rods – It’s at this point that you’ll need those drain rods we mentioned earlier. Wearing protective gloves, simply plunge the rods into the drain chamber and keep going until you feel you’ve dislodged any kind of blockage. Working slowly, rotate the rods in a clockwise direction and push them forwards. Don’t be tempted to spin these in an anti-clockwise fashion as this could result in you unscrewing the drain’s plunger attachment. Continue by pushing the rod through the blockage, which will help to break up any grease or grime sitting in the drain.
Time to Clean Up!
Now you’ve unblocked the drain, simply run some clear, fresh water through it. This will rinse away any extra debris to prevent a blockage happening again. Turning on your taps inside your house, let them run for around three minutes and try to determine if the water is running as normal. Next, pour a little bleach down the drains to ensure they’re as clean as they can be.
Is your drain still blocked after all your effort with those drain rods, water and bleach? There is another way…
How to Unblock an Outside Drain with Caustic Soda
Did you know you can unblock an outside drain using caustic soda? Well, you can – and here’s how to do it:
- Simply pour some of the caustic soda (a few tablespoons should do it) down the drain
- Next, add some water and allow the soda to fizz away
- The debris causing the blockage will now have risen to the top
- Add more water and remove the debris that’s made its way to the surface – and there you have it!
Outside Drain Unblocker: Tools and Chemicals
We’ve briefly touched on drain rods and caustic soda but what else do you need to unblock a drain? Here’s our essential kit:
Protective Gloves – You’ll need a pair of protective rubber gloves if you’re to begin fishing around the outside drains. Not only is it a dirty, smelly job but who knows what’s lurking down there? Protect your hands and you won’t be sorry later.
Rope – We talked about rope earlier and it’s because it’ll be your most important tool when it comes to trying to wrench open the drain by its handle.
A Carrier Bag – Keep a plastic carrier bag close by and you can discard any dirt or debris from the drain as you start to unblock it.
Drain Rods – You can pick these up relatively cheaply via your local hardware store or online. Make sure you have a few as they’ll certainly come in handy.
Bleach – Once you’ve done the dirty job of clearing out the drain, you’ll want to ensure it’s as clean as possible. Bleach is your secret weapon; make sure you pour a little down for added freshness.
A Garden Hose – Keep a garden hose close by and when it comes to clearing out the drain with water you’ll be glad you did.
Caustic Soda or Drain Unblocker – We’ve mentioned caustic soda earlier on in this piece and it’s with good reason. If that doesn’t work for you, pick up some good old fashioned drain unblocker online.
How to Unblock an Outside Kitchen Drain
Would you like to unblock an outside kitchen drain with minimal effort? Or perhaps you’d like to save some money and save yourself the task of calling out a professional?
Of course, there are some jobs that are best tackled by a professional drainage company – and you’ll quickly realise this when you finish unblocking a drain only to find that it fills up with water again just a few days later.
Online, there’s all sorts of handy forums offering a host of advice from people who’ve been in the exact same situation as you. Here’s just some tips via readers of these very forums:
“The cheapest thing to start with would be to pour a kettle of boiling water down the ‘hole’. Often fat from the kitchen sink congeals and blocks things up.”
“It’s a filthy job, but I cleared as much of the muck as possible, and jetted it with a power washer.”
“One tip is to attach your hose to the top of a two litre pop bottle and cut a hole in the base. This provides a better fit when it is pushed into the larger ‘hole’. Useful on blocked toilets as well.”
Tried any of the above methods yet? The great thing about each of them is they require very little in the way of tools or money. So you can give them a go as soon as possible and rest assured that your drain might soon be unblocked.
How to Unblock an Outside Waste Pipe
Tried the conventional methods of unblocking a drain or waste pipe? Now here’s a natural method you could try too:
- Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain. The great thing about this is everyone has at least one tub of this hiding in the back of their kitchen cupboards
- Next, grab that bottle of vinegar from the back of your cupboard and add around half a cup to the drain.
- Allow the mixture to fizz for around 30 minutes
- Next, remove the rain cover and run some hot water – direct from the kettle – through the pipe for around one to two minutes
Is that dirt and grime still not shifting? Simply repeat the process (above) a time or two again and say goodbye to blocked drains forever.
Finally, here’s how to prevent a future blockage:
- Don’t allow grease to find its way into your sink. Instead, pop it in some kitchen towel and place it in the bin. Do the same for soap scum, food, hair and other bits of debris
- Cover the opening of your drain with a screen or drain-gate. Doing so will minimise problems with food, soap scum and grease
- Clean your drains regularly, rinsing with water and/or bleach if needs be. Run hot water through the sink after each use and keep a plastic bag close by to discard any bits of food
- If your children want to help you do the washing up, make sure you accompany them; they may be more likely to allow food or grease to slip down the drain – not what you want!
So, there you have it; all the tips you need to ensure a clean, fresh and dirt-free drain. Remember: if the problem’s getting out of hand and your drains are continually blocked, make sure you act fast. Leaving the problem to build up will only result in a drain that’s even harder to unblock.
If you can’t unblock your drain yourself, call out the professionals. They’ll sort out the blockage quickly and efficiently and leave you to concentrate on the simple, day-to-day running of your household.