Dealing with a blocked sewer is never a pleasant experience but it is something that most homeowners are accustomed to dealing with. For many, the first step is to pick up the drain snake and slide it down through the drains. The aim is to find the blockage, punch a hole through it, and allow the water pressure to carry the blockage away.
The snake can break up the blockage or pull the debris back up the pipes to you.
However, using a snake can sometimes simple compact the blockage more. You may want to consider other ways to clear a blockage without using a snake.
This is another common approach and can be very effective. You might need a plunger that is designed for the toilet or the sink, they are different sizes and shapes. Having the right one can make a big difference to your success.
If you’re using a plunger for a housewide toilet issue it’s best to use a ground floor toilet as this will put you closer to the issue. It’s also advisable to tape the other drain points, ensuring the force of the plunger goes directly to the clog.
Put the plunger in the toilet and make sure it is fully under the water with a tight seal at the base of the toilet. Then slowly move the plunger up and down. You don’t need to do it vigorously for it to work.
Another option is to add drain cleaner, preferably enzyme based. This will take longer than a chemical-based solution. However, chemical drain cleaners can damage the inside of your pipes, giving you a bigger problem in the long term.
This is only an option if the blockage is in your sewer pipe and you can get to an access point outside the house. Do a long and sustained blast, hopefully, the power of the power washer will push the blockage apart and get the drains flowing again. But, be sure to wear full protective gear when doing this, you are likely to get sprayed which will not be a pleasant or healthy experience.
The power washer can be used in conjunction with drain rods. These are much more rigid than the drain snake and designed for use with sewer pipes when you access them from an outside drain.
However, remember that the blockage is under pressure when it releases the air often causes the wastewater to come up the drain cover with considerable force, make sure you’re not stood over it.
Baking Soda & White Vinegar
This is an old-fashioned method that works, although it’s generally better for smaller drains and clogs. The two compounds react together to dissolve debris in your pipes and, simultaneously, push it away. This encourages it to break up allowing the normal water flow to wash it down the sewer and away.
You’ll need to find the drain in your house closest to the clog and put at least ½ cup baking soda down the drain. Assuming the clog is not in the bend beneath this drain, it’s advisable to premix the baking soda with a cup of white vinegar before pouring it down the drain.
You can increase the volume of this mixture but keep the ratio of the compounds the same.
Leave the mixture to do its work for 15-20 minutes before pouring water, just below boiling point, down the drain. This should help the mixture to clear the blockage and get the sewer clear.
Never use boiling water as this can damage the inside of the pipes and destroy the glue used on joints, giving rise to further plumbing issues.
Certain approaches require expensive equipment and are generally only used by professionals in plumbing pipe repair, professionals will own or hire sewer cameras. The cameras are small enough to slide through the drains and sewer pipes to find a blockage, many have tool attachments to resolve the blockage once the issue is clearly identified.
While you may assume you have a blockage from excessive toilet paper or the wrong thing going down the toilet. You may actually have a damaged or collapsed pipe. In this instance, someone is going to need to dig it up and replace it. Simply pushing the blockage through the break isn’t going to solve the issue.
In industry using cameras to undertake regular inspections is an effective way of maintaining pipes and preventing problems from occurring.
If you have no luck with any of the above methods you’re going to want to get a professional.