One of the most common plumbing problems is a blocked drain, and may people will call their local drain unblocking company saying ”My outside drain is blocked”. However, before you can unblock a drain you need to know what caused it.
Drains can become blocked because of a number of reasons; it can be because of oil or food particles from a kitchen sink or soap and hair from a bathroom or a combination of the two.
Blocked drains do not normally happen overnight but build up over time, so you need to be careful with what you dispose of down your kitchen sink as well as your toilet and sinks.
To unblock an outside drain, you will need the following equipment.
Rubber Gloves – Drains are very dirty, so a good pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves are very helpful
Drain rod - These are used to dislodge blockages in drains and are very useful for unblocking drains
Caustic soda - is a great chemical for drain unblocking and is often very effective
Garden hose – Good for using once drain is unblocked
Water: Good once you have unblocked drain to clear any debris left.
How you go about Unclogging an outside drain
The first thing you need to do is remove the drain cover. They can be heavy so care should be taken when removing them. You can use a large screwdriver to dislodge them and make sure you keep your feet out of the way to avoid injury.
Once you have removed cover, make sure no one falls into the drain. Do not leave cover off unattended.
You should then look inside the drain. If it is full of water in the chamber and not draining away you can conclude that somewhere after the drain chamber is blocked, such as a soil pipe.
You can use the drain rods to remove the blockage. The rods are connected together so you have enough length. Once you have them connected you can thrust the rods into the chamber until the blockage is removed. Make sure when using the rods, you do not turn anticlockwise as the plunger attachment may unscrew causing a further blockage.
Once you have the blockage removed, withdraw the drain rods, then wash through using garden hose. If the water goes through and does not fill the camber you have fixed the problem. Leave the water running for 5 minutes to ensure all debris is removed.
Using caustic soda to unblock drains
If you do not have access to drain rods you can use caustic soda to unblock external drains. Caustic soda is a very corrosive chemical and reacts with food and dirt as well as hair.
Make sure you wear rubber gloves and eye protection before you start.
To use you first need to dilute with water. Get a bucket and fill to three quarters full. Add 2 cups of caustic soda to water and stir. Make sure you do not use metal to stir and it will react with it.
You will notice a fizz and heat as you stir which is normal.
Next take your bucket and pour into outside drain.
After a few minutes you should see debris rise to the top. Remove this (not with your hands)
Then once level goes down you can wash out with water to rinse the drain through.
If you follow the above you should get your drain unblocked.
If you don’t want to do it yourself there are many drain unblocking companies who will do it for you, but make sure you get a fixed quote before you hire them.