Drains are Blocked and Gurgling – What Causes This?

You’re using the sink but the water suddenly stops draining and you hear some gurgling coming up from the pipes. What’s going on?

Professionals like Plumbing Detectives (plumbingdetectives.com.au) know all about blocked drains, they see this all the time. Thankfully, it’s not a complicated problem and you can usually do very well taking care of it on your own.


What’s Blocking the Drain?

Unless something suspicious has recently gone down your drain recently, you probably aren’t going to know exactly what’s causing your drain blockage.

In a kitchen drain, it will likely be a build-up of food waste that has been rinsed down from dishes. Grease can be a major culprit because it resists water and won’t simply wash away when the water is running. On the other hand, bathroom drains are more likely to be blocked with accumulations of hair and soap, and even clots of toothpaste.

If you use a flashlight, you may be able to see what’s blocking the drain, which can be helpful in deciding your best course of action. Not all techniques work well with all clogs. Ask other members of your household if anyone knows anything. Someone (especially children) may suddenly remember that a spill of some kind when down the drain recently.

How to Unclog the Drain

You basically have two choices, use a chemical product to break up the clog or use a mechanical tool instead.

A long flexible drain “snake” is the usual mechanical method, and it can be very effective with any sort of blockage. They’re not particularly complicated to use but can take a little practice to be able to use them well.

Then you have chemical options, like the usual commercial products that will dissolve a clog when poured down the drain. These can be pretty potent and not everyone likes to keep such strong chemicals in their home, due to safety concerns. There are a few other DIY recipes you can try for a less toxic solution.

For a clog that is mostly grease, you can pour boiling hot water down the drain a few times to melt it, which will break up the blockage. Other types of clogs will need a more vigorous approach. Let the sink drain out as completely as possible, then pour about a cup of baking soda down the drain, quickly followed by the same amount of white vinegar. There will be a strong foaming reaction, which creates agitation down the pipes and hopefully directly at the clog. A few applications of this can be very helpful in breaking it up.

Another way to break up some blockages is to use a plunger. Cover the drain completely with the plunger head and give it a few hard shoves. The air pressure is forced down the pipe and can be effective at knocking a clog out, or at least helping to get it loosened up.

Prevent Clogs

Clogs are inevitable but you can take a few steps to prevent them. Always scrape your plates and dishes before you rinse them in the kitchen sink, to keep food waste out of the drain. For the bathroom, get a little strainer that fits in the drain to keep hair from building up farther down. Remember to clean it regularly.

Image source: Pixabay

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