What if you could solve some of the most common drainage issues on your own?
For example, many issues with sinks draining slowly or the drains having a small come down to a blocked outside drain. If you know how to unblock it yourself, you can actually save a lot of time and money over the years.
Ready to master this skill and take back control of your home? Keep reading to learn all about how to unblock an outside drain.
Identifying the Cause
Our guide will help you learn all about unblocking an outside drain. But you can’t proceed until you are able to identify the cause of the blockage.
As with any drain, the outside drains could be clogged due to any number of reasons. This includes buildups of soap or grease or even household items that went down the drain. And there may be an issue with leaves, dirt, and other outside debris affecting the drain.
Just as there are multiple possible causes to the blocked drain, there are also multiple potential solutions. That’s why it’s so important to have tools that are ready for any drainage problem.
Gathering Your Tools
Some of the tools you’ll need are a bit obvious. For example, you’ll need rubber gloves to help you handle some dirty and sticky situations. And you’ll need some sturdy garbage bags to help transport any debris that you end up removing.
Some tools, though, are a bit less obvious. A good rope can help you to remove the drain cover, and a drain rod (or, ideally, multiple drain rods) will come in handy when you need to manually clear an obstruction. Bleach is handy to help you clean the drain afterwards, and a garden hose can help you wash the area down.
Finally, caustic soda may come in handy as a chemical solution to your drainage issues. Our guide will help you learn how and when to use the caustic soda. But the first step is simply removing the cover to the drain.
Removing the Drain Cover
When you go to unblock the drain, your first problem is the drainage cover. This helps to secure the drain, but you’re going to need to remove to explore the cause of the blockage and fix the problem.
Some covers are easier to remove than others. For example, there may be handles that make it easy to lift. But if there are no handles, or the cover has simply been closed for a long time and is hard to open, you may need to use the rope to life the cover up.
Once you have the cover lifted, you can take a peek under the hood. If you see water pooled up, then you have confirmation that the drain is blocked. It was probably caused by a clogged soil pipe, but visually inspecting for a full chamber on one side and an empty chamber on the other can help you locate the exact blockage location.
Manually Clearing the Outside Drain
After you find the blockage, it’s time to take out the drain rods. As the name implies, these are special rods you can thrust into the blockage in order to clean things up.
For best results, don’t simply thrust the drain inside and out. Instead, you should rotate it clockwise in order to effectively dislodge everything. Just don’t accidentally rotate it counterclockwise because you might accidentally unscrew the plunger attachment.
Whatever you do, keep a good grip on it. A surprising number of these rods end up getting lost each year.
Don't Forget the Cleanup
With any luck, the drain rods will get most of the drain cleared up for you. But there may still be some stray debris in the area that could clog things up at a future date. Try to clear the remaining debris and then go into your home and turn on all the taps to make sure the water is draining properly.
At this point, you are nearly ready to put the drain cover back in place. Before you do so, you should pour a small amount of bleach into the drain. Bleach does a great job of removing grease and dirt and also dealing with some of the unpleasant smells.
A Chemical Solution
There are times that the blockage is so bad that simply using the drain rods is not enough. At this point, you can always call a local professional. But before that, you might want to try using some caustic soda.
It’s possible to buy caustic soda over the counter, though preparing it will require a few extra steps. You must dilute it in some cold water and stir with a wooden spoon (stirring with a metal spoon can cause a chemical reaction).
You’ll notice that things are working when the mixture you are stirring begins to give off a bit of fizz and heat. At this point, you can pour the caustic soda into the drain and wait a few minutes for the debris to float to the top.
Now you can remove the debris, rinse the drain with water, and put the drain cover back in place.
The Power of Prevention
As you can tell, unblocking an outside drain isn’t that complex. But as with any other annoyance, it is far better to prevent the problem from happening than fixing things after the fact.
Make sure that you aren’t pouring any fats, oils, or greases down your drains. Watch out for hair in the drains, too: hair in the sink from shaving really adds up and causes drainage issues.
Beyond that, the main thing is to avoid putting objects down your drains that don’t belong there. Napkins, wet wipes, tampons, condoms, and more are often placed in pipes and cause some major headaches when things get clogged up.
Now you know how to unblock an outside drain on your own. But do you know who to call when the plumbing problems are a bit more serious?
K-Oz Plumbing specializes in blocked drains, plumbing emergencies, and a whole lot more. To see how we can give you back control of your own home, contact us today!