Dwell Well > Improving > Blocked drains - how to solve and prevent

Blocked drains - how to solve and prevent

A blocked drain(s), toilet over flowing or one of the issues below indicates there is a problem or blockage.

  • Gurgling sounds
  • Bad smells
  • Slow drainage in sinks
  • Rising toilet water

In the first instance you might want to try and unblock the system yourself, so follow our step by step guide below

Step 1

If the blockage is inside your property, try and unblock the sink, toilet pan or plughole using a plunger. 

Plungers can be bought for as little as £6 and drainage rods with plunger attachment can be bought at most hardware or DIY stores with prices starting around £12.

Step 2

If the blockage is in a sink or plughole, you could try an over the counter dissolvent available at supermarkets, which may be able to dissolve the grime, soap, oils etc.

Step 3

If this does not work and you think the blockage is outside the property make sure, in the first instance, you are responsible for the drain and it is within the curtilage of your property.

Generally speaking, you are usually responsible for drains inside the boundaries or curtilage of your property, while the sewerage company is responsible for lateral drains, which are outside of property boundaries, and sewers. Although most sewers are now publicly owned, there are still some private or unadopted sewers. If your property is served by one of these, you may be responsible for maintaining it.

For more information we recommend the Citizens Advice Bureau website

Step 4

Try using drain rods and a detachable plunger externally (usually via a manhole cover within your property boundary). If you decide to try and unblock the drain without a specialist, make sure you attach the drain rods firmly together and always turn the rod clockwise when attempting to plunge or unblock.

Many a plumber will tell you that whilst attempting to unblock a drain the rods and plunger head can unscrew quite easily if they are not tightly connected or you try to twist them anti-clockwise.

Step 5

If this does not work, we recommend you contact a tradesman or specialist company as they have a number of solutions they can apply to solve the problem.

What do plumbers, tradesman and specialist drainage companies use to resolve blocked drains.

Depending on where the blockage is occurring, and after having undertaken a full assessment, there are a number of options

  • Chemicals to dissolve fat, grease and solvents which allows the discarded items to become loose, which can then be removed.
  • If the blockage is severe a  high powered jet washer to clean can be used. The pressure is so great that it will break most fat, grease, oil and some weaker items in the pipe, therefore clearing the drain.
  • Jetting drains is the most ecologically friendly way to care for drains as chemicals or harsh dissolvent are not used to clear the items from the pipe. This option protects wildlife from any harmful substances and keeps the soil in the area clear of toxins.
  • For the most severe blockages, a drain auger can be used to clear out the pipe and this can be used with a cutting implement if there is considerable debris within the pipe
  • Sometimes blockages can be caused by drains damaged due to tree roots, subsidence, corrosion of the pipes or incorrect installation etc. Specialist drainage companies now use CCTV to carry out a drainage survey to understand what the problem is without having to excavate or dig up part of your property. The average cost of a drain survey in the UK is £90.

However, prevention is better than cure.

We have listed the top 5 issues that cause drains to block so you can try and prevent or minimise any problems

Why Drains Block

  1. Old and outdated systems, especially in older properties which were built before daily showers, baths, dishwashers, washing machines etc, which can no longer cope with today’s demands or have simply corroded due to age, wear and tear
  2. Bad housekeeping and poor maintenance. Disposable nappies, and other items disposed of, which cannot manoeuvre the ubend. Over the rim fresheners are often a common reason for a blocked drain if they become detached and are flushed away. We recommend using ones that go in to the cistern itself. Oils and fats should not be rinsed down the kitchen sink (or even toilet) and instead should be disposed of in the following ways:
  • Dry wipe plates and pans with kitchen roll before washing them and dispose of it in the bin.
  • Leftover cooking fat should be emptied into a container (such as a fat trap) for it to cool and solidify and then disposed of in the bin.
  • In any event, we are firm advocates of reducing the incidents of fatbergs, which are clusters of fat that get combined with nappies, sanitary items etc and clog sewers across the UK. 

Fatbergs in the sewerage system can cause flooding in homes

3. Hair in plugholes being pushed down and swilled away rather than removed. We recommend using a plug filter which can be bought for as little as £2. 

4. Broken or damaged pipework as a result of wear, tear and age but it can also be the result of other building work, renovations or maintenance taking place when other trades people are unaware of the layout of the drainage system.

5. Tree root ingress damaging pipes and drainage systems, as well as causing flooding issues and other structural damage

5 tips to minimise problems and deal with minor blocked drain issues:

  1. Always have a plunger available
  2. Use plug filters in showers and baths
  3. Never put grease or oil down the sink / toilet or into the drainage system
  4. Use cistern rather than over the rim fresheners
  5. Don’t ignore signs of a blocked drain

Live well with Moving and Improving


Click below to start your quote

Specific Defect Report

Sign up to our newsletter!

No matter if you are moving, or improving, our newsletter is packed with the best tips, tricks and ideas to help you dwell well.