Waste pipes have to deal with all sorts of debris such as strands of hair and leftover bits of food so they will block from time to time. A blockage is easy to identify because the flow of water from waste outlets such as baths and sinks will become slow. This indicates that a blockage is beginning to form somewhere in the pipework.
When you first notice a blockage beginning to form, you could try to use one of the many drain cleaners available in the shops. A word of warning here! These cleaners are caustic and can damage your plumbing if you do not follow instructions and they can cause injury or illness if you do not follow the safety precautions. These will be displayed clearly on the container.
One of the most effective treatments for a blockage is to use a plunger. This is a simple device but is very effective if used correctly. This is how you should use a plunger:
You should seal the plunger against the bottom of the bowl by smearing petroleum jelly around the base of the plunger.
Place the plunger over the outlet and run the water so that there is enough in the bowl to cover the base of it. Now, holding a wet cloth over the overflow, pump the plunger several times.
Remove it and see if it’s worked. Repeat as necessary.
Sometimes, using a plunger will not work and this may push a blockage along the pipe a little bit, usually to the trap beneath the sink so you will need to clean out the trap! To do this:
Place a washing-up bowl under the trap to catch the water. Unscrew the two ends of the trap and ease it out. Clear any debris from it. If this is where the blockage was, you will clearly see it. Reassemble the trap and check the flow of waste water again.
If this fails to remove the blockage, it will be necessary to ‘rod’ the pipe out.
We recommend that at this stage, you call a plumber because it will be unlikely that you will have the equipment required to complete this task.