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By: BDS Drainage

How to Unblock a Drain with Drain Rods?

Blocked drains are a common issue that can cause a lot of inconvenience in any household. Luckily, with the right tools, a bit of know-how and a healthy amount of elbow grease, it’s a problem that you can often solve yourself and get your drains flowing freely once more.

In this blog post, we’ve put together a step by step guide to unblocking a drain using drain rods covering everything from preparing the area to troubleshooting tips that will help you prevent blockages occurring again.

So, read on to learn how to use drain rods to clear blocked drains.

What are drain rods?

drain rods

Drain rods are a set of long, flexible rods that can be screwed together to form a longer rod. They are typically made of sturdy materials like polypropylene or steel and come with different attachments for various types of blockages.

A highly flexible drain rod works by pushing through the blocked pipe and breaking up the obstruction into smaller pieces, making it easier to remove. They are able to navigate tight bends found in pipe work, allowing you to clear blockages in even the most hard to reach areas of your drainage system.

Where can you get them?

Drain rods can be purchased from hardware stores, plumbing supply shops, or online retailers. It’s essential to invest in good quality drain rods as they will last longer and perform better.

What you’ll need for the job

To get started, you’ll need:

  • A set of drain rods
  • Protective gloves
  • Protective eyewear
  • A screwdriver (if the drain cover or manhole cover is screwed down)
  • A hose or bucket of water for flushing

Step 1: Preparation

Firstly, safety cannot be underestimated when dealing with drainage systems. Before you start working on getting your drains unblocked, ensure you are donning protective gloves and eyewear to safeguard against harmful bacteria and potential splashes.

If your drain cover is bolted down, you’ll likely need a screwdriver to gain access. It’s wise to also notify anyone in the household to halt water usage to avoid any unexpected flow while you work.

Step 2: Put your rods together

Drain rods typically come in sectionable pieces that you can screw together to achieve the desired length. Start with a single rod and connect additional sections as needed, keeping in mind to twist them clockwise. This orientation is crucial as it prevents them from unscrewing inside the drain during use.

Step 3: Insert the assembled drain rod into the blocked drain

Carefully introduce the first rod into the drain, ensuring not to apply force that could damage your piping. Continue attaching and feeding rods into the drain as you move deeper. Exercise caution to prevent any potential harm to your plumbing.

Step 4: Locate and clear the blockage

With the rods in the drain, use a combined pushing and twisting motion (always clockwise) to work through the pipes. Upon encountering resistance – likely the blockage – apply gentle, steady pressure and continue rotating the rods to disintegrate and clear the obstruction.

Step 5: Flush the drain

Feeling the blockage give way, it’s time to cautiously withdraw the rods, unscrewing them piece by piece as they emerge. Following this, conduct a thorough flush of the drain with water to ensure the obstruction is entirely cleared and to check the water flow.

Step 6: Final clean Up

After successfully unblocking the drain, it’s paramount to cleanse and sterilise the rods and any other utilised tools. Reattach the drain cover securely. Remember to also clean your protective wear and any clothing that might have come into contact with contaminants during the process.

Top Tips

  • Avoid using chemical drain cleaners as they can be harmful to both you and your plumbing.
  • For stubborn blockages, try using a plunger before resorting to drain rods.
  • Regularly maintaining your drains by flushing hot water down them can help prevent future blockages.
  • If the blockage persists, it may be best to call a professional plumber for assistance.


FAQ & troubleshooting

Q. Should I use chemical drain unblockers before trying drain rods?

Chemical unblockers can be effective for minor blockages, but are best used as a preventive measure rather than a solution for significant obstructions.

Q. Can drain rods damage my pipes?

If used recklessly, yes. However, following the correct technique minimises risk significantly. Steady, gentle pressure and clockwise movements are key.

Q. What should I do if the blockage has still not cleared?

If you’ve tried multiple times and the blockage persists, it’s best to call a drainage expert who will have more specialised tools and methods (such as drain jetting) to expertly handle the issue. It could be a sign of a more severe underlying problem that needs to be addressed.

Q. What are some of the most common causes of blockages?

Some common causes of blockages include food waste, hair, grease buildup, foreign objects being flushed down the drain, and tree root infiltration.  So avoid pouring grease down your drains and, instead, dispose of it by pouring it into a plastic bottle or other suitable container and then put it in your household waste.

Additionally, using drain covers or strainers can help catch debris before it enters the pipes.  If you notice recurring blockages, it may be necessary to get a CCTV drain survey performed for a more intensive investigation into the condition of your pipework.



Unblocking drains is a practical skill that saves both time and money. By following these instructions, homeowners and DIY enthusiasts can effectively address blocked drains before calling in professionals.

Still blocked? Call on our specialists!

Should you encounter a stubborn blockage that refuses to clear or if you feel unsure about tackling this yourself, BDS Drainage is here to help.

Our team of professionals is not only adept at handling common blockages but also excels in employing advanced techniques such as CCTV drain surveys, high-pressure water jetting, and drain relining.

At BDS Drainage, our goal is to provide efficient, cost-effective solutions to our customers’ drain issues, backed by our commitment to excellence and customer satisfaction. Whether it’s routine maintenance or emergency blockage removal, our team is equipped to handle challenges of all sizes, ensuring that your drainage system functions smoothly and reliably.

Our experienced team offers professional solutions to all your drainage issues – covering both domestic pipes and those associated with a commercial property or business.

Don’t hesitate, reach out to us today for assistance and say goodbye to blocked drains.

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