A blocked outside drain is an inconvenience and, in some cases, a danger if not taken care of quickly. It can cause overflowing of water, damage surfaces, negatively affect property and prevent water from draining away. So, how do you combat this? That’s where our guide comes in.

We have the knowledge to help you deal with those pesky blocked drains (ground floor, balcony or otherwise). Whether you’re a commercial property owner or a domestic homeowner, we’ll ensure you know what steps to take to deal with the drain blockage as soon as possible.

Table of contents

How to unblock a drain

Let us tell you that unblocking your drain is not just limited to the trusty rubber plunger. Different tools and methods are needed depending on how extreme the blockage may be.

grate blocked by leaves

What tools can you use to unblock a drain? Well, let’s take a look.

Unblocking a drain by hand

Any surface debris like leaves, soap scum or food waste can be scooped up and placed in a bucket or bin bag. Ensure you wear long-sleeved gloves, goggles and a face mask to avoid being made ill by any fumes or odours emitting from the debris.

Unblocking a drain with drain rods

Now we’re talking. If you’ve ever heard of drain rods, you’ll know these are very useful. In fact, they’re the most common tool to deal with such blockage issues.

Drain rods are long rods that fit together to go down into the drain. They have plenty of end fittings to choose from to help remove specific types of blockages, such as:

  • Plunger
  • Worm screw/corkscrew (double or single)
  • Drop scraper
  • Clearing wheel
  • Brush
  • Harpoon
  • Hook

There are plenty more, but a plunger is a good start.

Fit the rubber plunger to the end of the rod. Then, wearing thick rubber gloves, goggles and a face mask, push the plunger into the blocked drain. Drain rods are flexible, so they can be bent around to find the pipe’s opening. Once you’ve got that, feed it through.

You can join more rods to the existing length if they aren’t long enough to reach the blockage. Be careful as you push the rods into the drain and turn clockwise as you unblock the drain. The clockwise turning motion will prevent the rods from undoing. If you’re struggling, rotating handles are available to ease the process.

If a drain rod doesn’t work, it’s time to call the professionals in.

Unblocking a drain with commercial waste unblockers

These are for those large or industrial blockages that small tools can’t compete with. They can be manually operated with a crank or have an electrical trigger with varying speed options.

How they work is a wire is fed down the pipes. Like drain rods, they also have varying head fittings to choose from depending on the level of blockage. You can also opt for handheld drain wire unblockers or blockers with their own frames to sit in.

If the commercial waste unblocker doesn’t work, it’s time to call the professionals in.

Things that can block outside drains

Leaves and food waste aren’t the only causes of a blocked drain. So, with that in mind, we’ve gathered the ways you can clear an outside drain when it’s clogged up.

An outside drain blocked with mud

Mud or silt is irritating and difficult to deal with because it doesn’t flow away that easily when being dislodged from the system. What’s worse is it can be a sign that something bigger is causing the issue, such as a collapsed or broken pipe.

For this issue, opt for the hand and drain rod methods to remove as much of these elements as possible. Then use a hosepipe with a high-pressure nozzle or pressure washer down the pipe to clear it out.

grate blocked with dirt and soil

An outside drain blocked with fat

Chemicals to the rescue! Fat is a truly annoying substance, so it will require a tough old method to combat it. There are a few options to try here.

The first is boiling a kettle full of water. Then, while you wear long-sleeved gloves, goggles and a mark, pour that boiler water down the drain. Take care not to cause it to splash back onto your skin.

Didn’t work? Your next choice is caustic soda (aka sodium hydroxide if you’re feeling fancy). Using only a few tablespoons per attempt to clear, this should react with the fatty acids and dissolve the material.

If even that fails, some brands manufacture cleaning chemicals for this issue. Just make sure you follow the instructions on the container when using it.

To prevent the issue before it even arrives, you can use a grease trap to stop pesky fat substances from causing further problems.

How to tell if your outside drain is blocked

Before you get stuck into the unblocking, you’ll need to find the signs of a blockage. Sometimes it’s easy to find the problem, but other times this may be more of a challenge – especially in dry weather.

grate blocked with a large amount of dry leaves

With that in mind, let’s look at those all-important signs!

The water isn’t draining away

An obvious sign your drain is blocked is water drainage and the lack thereof. When the drain is blocked, the water will take a long time to drain from the surface.

This particular sign can lead to more problems like the build-up of debris, waste, moss and other unwanted elements affecting your drain’s poor flow.

Why does my outside drain smell?

Remember when we said sometimes it can be more challenging to know when your drain is blocked? Well, here’s our first hint that the drain is blocked – a foul smell. The bad smell emitting from the system is a sign of build-up within the drain, which can occur before the drain becomes completely blocked.

The outside drain is so noisy

Do you hear gurgling? Nope, that’s not a mythical creature stuck in the system. That’s the drain itself. The pipes and drains can become vacuum-like from the blockage, causing a push-and-pull sensation which affects the air within the system and leads it up the drain.

So, now you know more about unblocking outside drains, why not find out more about common drainage issues around residential and commercial properties? We’ve got plenty of advice to help you out, coupled with a selection of exceptionally useful tools to ensure your drainage projects can be dealt with as soon as possible.

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