Are you wondering what the best ways are when it comes to how to unblock a drain? A blocked drain outside the house is enough to send alarm bells ringing. To be fair, the fear is understandable because when an outside drain is blocked, there is no telling what could happen. After all, the outdoor drain serves a vital purpose as it is responsible for transporting all wastewater and sewage from your house to the main sewer line. So, when that gets blocked, all hell can break loose. In this post, we will be helping you identify all the best way on how to unblock a drain.
But don’t press the panic button just yet, or frantically call up your friend asking, ‘how to unblock a drain pipe’ or even contact an outside drain unblocker service. There is plenty you can do to clear blocked drains, DIY among them. Sure, it can be a messy and smelly affair but if it saves you a few hundred pounds, there is no reason to turn your nose up at it (pun intended).
If you are wondering how to clean outside drains, this is the perfect guide that you can refer to. Without further ado, let’s look at how to clear a blocked drain outside on your own.
“My outside drain is blocked!!”
A lot of calls we receive start with people saying that with varying degrees of frustration. However, when you attempt to unclog an outside drain on your own, you must get to the root cause of the blockage first.
That’s because the cause of blockage is different for each drain. For instance, bathroom drains get clogged up with hair and soap, for a kitchen sink it could be (or rather, usually is) oil and grease and a toilet can be prevented from draining properly by something as harmless as toilet paper. The drain outside the house is no different. It could be blocked because of grease, soap or other similar domestic items, or even a combination of those things. You’re outside drain could also be blocked by leaves, dirt, silt, grease and other types of outdoor debris.
So how exactly does one know for sure if their outside drain is clogged with dirt, mud, soil or anything else?
Before we learn more about how to fix a blocked drain, there are a few things you’ll need for the purpose. These include,
- Rubber gloves – The drain is not the most hygienic of places, a blocked drain even worse so. It’s as dirty as it’s smelly, which is why you need a good pair of protective rubber gloves to keep your hands safe.
- Rope – When trying to unblock a drain pipe, a rope can be useful to remove the drain’s cover by force.
- Waste bags – Plastic carrier or waste bags are convenient to store the debris that you take out from the drain after unblocking it.
- Drain rod – The most important piece of the how to clear a blocked drain puzzle, a drain rod is very useful to dislodge a blockage and easily available with local hardware stores. And while you are at it, buy more than one as they might prove useful.
- Bleach – Once you do the hard part of clearing the blocked drains using drain rods, it is time to clean the drains as much as possible. Bleach is a brilliant outdoor drain cleaner and can really freshen up your outside drain.
- Caustic soda – There’s no way of knowing if your blocked outside drain will need caustic soda but keep it nearby anyway. If you don’t have caustic soda, any chemical drain unblocker will do.
- Garden hose – A garden hose is useful in any cleaning exercise, more so when it is your outside drain that we are talking about.
How to unclog an outside drain?
- Take the drain cover off
Your home’s outdoor water drain has a cover that you need to take off first. You can use a screwdriver (or any other thin but strong object) to force it open. Some covers feature a handle that you can grab on to while removing them. But if your drain has not been opened for some time, the cover won’t come out easily. In such cases, you can use the rope to yank it off.
- Look what is going on inside
When you look inside and go ‘should there be water in my outside drain’, we have a problem on our hands. If the drain chamber is full of water instead of draining off, it obviously means the drain is clogged someplace after the chamber. And if there is no water in the chamber, there is a block somewhere before it. Perhaps, the soil pipe is the culprit or maybe it’s something else. There is only one way to know for sure; keep looking till you find a chamber that has a full chamber on one side and an empty chamber on the other. That, dear reader, is where your blockage is sitting merrily!
- Reach for the drain rods
Using a drain rod is arguably the best way to clear blocked drains. It is a handy outside drain unblocker tool that can be bought from your neighbourhood store or even online. Once you locate the blocked chamber, thrust the rods into it and keep going till you remove the blockage. Also, rotate the rods clockwise when you push as it helps to dislodge the blockage. But be careful to not rotate them anti-clockwise, as that can unscrew the plunger attachment inside the blocked drain pipe. As you keep thrusting the drain rod repeatedly, the blockage in your drain will loosen and soon after, dislodge.
- Clean what’s left of it
Even though you’ve now cleared the blocked external drain, there might still be some debris left behind that can lead to a future blockage. Therefore, you must clean whatever’s left of the blockage. An easy way to do that is to rinse the debris off by running clean water through the drain. Turn on all the taps in your home for around five minutes and see if the water is draining off properly. If it is, your job is done. Before you shut the taps off and put back the drain cover, pour some bleach into the drain. Bleach is an effective outside drain cleaner as it cleans off residual muck and grease from drains and leaves them smelling fresh. A good alternative to bleach is an external drain unblocker liquid that you can buy off supermarket shelves.
While this should get rid of most exterior drain pipe blockages, some might prove more stubborn. If the blockage in your drain is one such tough nut to crack, it is time to up the stakes.
Outside Drain Unblocker
When looking for an outside drain unblocker, using caustic soda is one of the most recommended methods to use. As listed above, once you’ve mixed the solution, all you need to do is to pour the solution into the blocked drain outside your house or wherever the blocked drain is.
The alternative outside drain unblocker methods can include, removing the drain pipe so you can thoroughly cleanse it, using a CCTV Drain Surveys to identify the problem, or contacting a professional emergency plumbing service if you don’t feel as if you are able to unblock the drain pipe yourself.
How to unblock an outside drain with caustic soda?
Caustic soda has been used to unclog outdoor drain systems for decades now and with good reason. It is a highly effective external drain unblocker that can be bought from any local store and is cheap to boot. But how does caustic soda unblock drains?
There is a reason why caustic soda is called caustic. It is highly corrosive in nature and produces an intense chemical reaction upon coming into contact with dirt, hair, food and other organic materials. No prizes for guessing what these materials can do to your outside drain.
Unblocking drains with caustic soda is easy and can be done by following the below steps,
- Take a large bucket and dilute a few cups of caustic soda in cold water.
- Use a wooden spoon or stirrer to mix the soda and the water.
- A note of caution – do not use these containers and utensils for any cooking-related purpose afterwards. Also, avoid using your hands to stir the mixture.
- As you mix the two, you should see a bit of fizz and some amount of heat being generated.
- Now pour this solution straight drown the blocked outside drain.
- After a few minutes, you should see the remaining debris rising to the top.
- Remove all the debris and pour down a couple of buckets of water down the drain – and you are done.
How to clear a blocked kitchen drain outside?
Kitchen drains are notorious for getting clogged with most households experiencing a kitchen drain block once every few months. But you can unblock a kitchen drain if you don’t mind getting dirty, and a bit smelly. Here are a few ways to unblock your outside kitchen drain on your own.
- Pour boiling water – The fat from your kitchen sink tends to congeal and as a result, causes drain blockage. Pouring a small bucket full of boiling hot water into the hole can melt away this blockage.
- Use a power washer – A power washer can be used to blast through the blockage. However, this won’t work if the blockage is strong and located too deep.
- Use baking soda – Baking soda usually tops the list of most how to unblock waste pipe guides and it’s easy to see why. The thing is natural, easily available and safe to use. To clear a drain blockage, add some baking soda and vinegar into the drain. Now let the mixture fizz for 30 minutes. Afterwards, pour a kettle full of hot boiling water into the drain. The blockage should be removed.
- Remove using your hands – We know it sounds icky but using your hands (shielded by rubber gloves of course) to clear out the clogged gunk is the most effective way of clearing the blockage. Use a power washer afterwards to jet the debris away.
- Use caustic soda – If none of the above methods works, you can give caustic soda a try before calling in professionals to clear the outside kitchen drain. Use caustic soda in the manner outlined above.
How to keep drains clear naturally and prevent clogging?
You can prevent the drain pipes outside your house from clogging by ensuring the following things do not enter your drainage system,
- Fats, oils & grease (FOG)
- Nappies & pads
- Wet wipes
- Applicators, tampons & wrappers
- Sanitary products
- Bandages & plasters
- Razor blades
- Medicines & syringes
- Dental floss
- Cotton buds
You can also consider buying a drain-gate or drain-screener which prevents debris like soap scum, grease and food particles from getting in the drain. Lastly, clean all your drains from time to time. Something as simple as pouring boiling hot water along with some detergent or drain cleaner is enough to keep your drain clean and clog-free for years together. And when you minimise the amount of debris that enters your drains, the chances of your outside drain getting blocked come down dramatically.
Remember that prevention is better than cure, and prevention is most certainly better than shelling out hundreds of pounds in drain repairs.