A blocked drain can cause all sorts of issues in your kitchen. In this handy article, we show you how you can save time and money by unblocking it yourself.
Is there an odd smell in your home? Or perhaps your kitchen sink is taking a long time to drain? This could be because of a drain blockage. Drain blockages are relatively easy to deal with, and while many people call in the experts right away, you can save yourself some money by first having a go yourself.
The blockage causing these problems could be in either your external or internal drains, but if that drain lies within the boundaries of your home, it's your responsibility to repair and maintain it.
Your outside drain for the kitchen is a little more tricky to fix than standard blocked sinks, but it's entirely possible to do it yourself. To help you approach this task, we’ve created this simple and easy guide on how to unblock an outside kitchen drain, including advice and tips on keeping your drains clean.
Why is your outdoor kitchen drain blocked?
Before you start unblocking your drain, it's worth knowing why the problem has occurred so you can prevent further damage or future blockages.
Blocked drains usually occur simply because people put things down their sinks that shouldn't be put there. Major culprits in kitchen sinks include coffee grounds, oil, grease, and solid foods. Bathroom drains often get clogged up with hair and soap scum. Toilets can cause blockages in your drain pipes too, so sanitary products, excessive toilet paper, and wipes should not be put down there. Such blockages can be easily avoided by simply following good housekeeping rules.
All of these things might be blocking your drain because they all lead to the same place. These items are just getting stuck in the outside drain instead of inside. Natural debris outside can also block your outside drain. Moss, mud, leaves, branches, and soil may all lead to drains being blocked.
How to prevent drain blockages
To stop blockages in the future, you should be careful about what you put in your drainage system, as it all ends up in outdoor drains around your home. This includes the sinks, toilets, showers and bathtubs.
By keeping your outside space as clean and tidy as possible, you'll prevent outdoor debris from getting stuck in your outside drain. If you don't already own them, outdoor drain covers will stop things like mud and leaves from falling into your external drain and causing a blockage.
Unblocking drains: your step-by-step guide
Now that you know why your drains are likely blocked and what you can do to stop it from happening again, it's time to get down to work and address the issue head-on.
In this section, we outline how you can easily unblock your drains at home without having to call in professionals. While it may seem like an unpleasant and time-consuming task, it's definitely worth it for the money saved and the convenience of being able to get it done immediately.
Step 1: Assess the problem
The first thing to do if you suspect your outside drain or sewage drain is blocked is to make sure you're tackling the right problem. Make sure the blockage isn't located inside your property within a drain pipe by:
- Trying a plunger to dislodge a blockage high up in the pipes
- Using a shop-bought drain unblocker to clear minor blockages in the pipes
- Pour a mix of vinegar and baking soda down your sink, followed by a jug of boiling water
- Unscrew the sink U bend and pull out any clogs or debris you can see in the pipes
You could try a shop-bought outside drain unblocker to see if this helps tackle the problem from the other end.
If these methods are unsuccessful, the problem likely lies in the outside drains rather than inside your home. Remove your drain cover and see if there is any outside debris that can be removed to remedy the problem. At this point, you're ready to begin unblocking your outside drain.
Step 2: Gather necessary equipment
To unblock an outside drain you'll need some equipment and tools to hand. You should have most of this in your house already, but if not, a trip to the local DIY store should provide you with everything required. You will need:
- Protective clothing, a face mask, and goggles to keep you dry and protected
- Rubber gloves to protect your hands from mud, waste, and outdoor debris
- Rags to protect any areas of your home or garden that may be affected by splatter and mud
- A drain rod (a longer version of a drain snake to unblock)
- A bucket and/or bin bags to catch and clear debris
- A screwdriver to lift your drain covers
- A garden hose (or ideally a pressure hose)
Step 3: Remove drain cover and large debris
Using your screwdriver (or a piece of rope if it's easier), lift away the outside drain cover. If you can reach your arm in to take out some of the debris and mud causing the blockage with your hands it will make your job easier. That's because your drainage rod will be able to reach smaller debris further down much easier.
This job might seem horrible, but it's worth doing.
Place your bucket by the drain and remove any blockage material you can. The next steps will become much easier with fewer large lumps and clogs in the way.
Step 4: How do you unblock an outside drain with a drain rod?
Attempt to flush out the blockage by inserting the drain rod. The thin metal rod should easily slide through any surface gunge, but you'll need to apply some pressure while twisting the rod when you reach the blockage.
If it's a particularly stubborn clog, you may need to take some time. You need to keep plunging until moving the drain rods becomes easy. This is a clear sign that the blockage is clearing, and if you can see it, it will begin to drain. You may wish to use a plunger attachment with your rod if you can't seem to get any movement, or if something large and solid is causing the blockage like a wad of toilet paper.
Make sure that you're twisting your drain rods clockwise at all times. If you twist it the other way, the pressure of the blockage against it could actually unscrew your rod!
Step 5: Deep clean your outside drain
Once the main blockage is cleared, you want to get your drains as clean as possible. A pressure hose or power washer is ideal, but if you don't have one a normal water hose will be fine.
While it may be a tedious process, this step will ensure that any leftover grime, leaves, food particles, and toilet waste are removed, preventing another build-up in the future. You may wish to clean your kitchen sink as well, as sometimes using rods to unblock drains results in some bubbling up in the sink.
Regularly cleaning your kitchen and sewage drain will make clogs and blockages less likely. If you pour baking soda into your drains every few weeks, followed by hot water or drain unblocker, you'll have fewer problems with your drains in the future.
Step 6: Final cleaning
At this point, you may wish to pour some bleach, more baking powder, and hot water to keep it fresh, clean, and clear of grime and debris.
Now that the difficult things have been dealt with and the blockage is gone, you can place your drain gate back over the drain chamber, giving it a quick clean beforehand. Clean your tools with hot water if they've been in contact with a drain outside. Tools covered in mud and waste from the toilet drain should be treated with bleach and water due to the possible bacteria present.
How do you use caustic soda to unblock outside drains?
If your drain is blocked and you don't have a drainage rod, you could attempt to fix it with caustic soda. Caustic soda is a common method for treated blocked drains, and as it's a quick and easy process, it can save you some time and energy. All you'll need is caustic soda and water. Here's how:
- Simply pour a few tablespoons of caustic soda directly down the drain
- Pour some water into your drains and let the soda fizz away for a while
- The debris causing the blockage will eventually rise to the top
- Pour more water and then remove the debris that’s risen to the surface—and that's it!
- Clean your kitchen sink and any other areas with splatter with bleach
What is the best outside drain unblocker?
Both drain rods and caustic soda are effective methods of clearing your drains. The best method for you will really depend on the size and location of the blockage. Unfortunately, because you won't be able to see this to start with, it may be a case of trying both and seeing what works.
While caustic soda is a less messy and hassle-free experience for you, it might not dislodge large blockages. Meanwhile, drain rods can be difficult to manoeuvre but are more likely to remove any blockage, no matter the size. In both cases, it's worth thoroughly cleaning your drains afterward to prevent future problems.
Still need help to unblock an outside drain?
If you've attempted to clear them yourself with rods or drain cleaner, but still have drainage problems, it may be time to call in a professional service for their advice and services and to get the job done. A professional team will be able to clear your outdoor drains in no time. We still recommend attempting this process yourself first, as it's cheaper and quicker.
The bottom line
Is your drain blocked? There are many things you can do to deal with this problem. From baking soda and water to drain rods and outside drain unblocker techniques, this is something you can likely deal with yourself, and it shouldn't take long.
Clean, fresh, and debris-free drains are key to a healthy and happy property. However, if you find yours blocked time after time, you need to act fast. If you leave this problem to build up, it could result in serious damage and become even harder to unblock.
Like this article?
Did you find this article helpful? If so, you’ll be happy to find a whole library of DIY guides to help you remedy all manner of issues around your home. From unblocking a toilet to replacing a cracked tile, find out how to do all these things yourself, saving you time and money. Many of our guides come complete with handy videos and step-by-step instructions, to show you exactly what to do.
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