How to Clear a Blocked Drain

Blocked drains are one of the most common plumbing problems that people encounter every day throughout Australia and around the world. Blockages can strike when you least expect, so it pays to be prepared to deal with one. Left untreated, blockages can cause water to leak from your drains, potentially damaging your home or business facility. Severe blockages can also result in burst pipes, which can require even more costly repairs. Here’s a look at the primary options you have available to you to get rid of blocked drains.

boiling water bubbles rising

Boiling Water

For a quick and easy fix for your blocked drains, try pouring a pot of boiling water into the drain. In many cases, this is enough to loosen or dissolve the blockage without having to resort to more drastic measures. Only use this method on metal or ceramic pipes, as the heat can loosen joints on PVC pipes. For PVC pipes, use hot, not boiling, tap water instead. This method can be effective on grease or food build-up, but it is unlikely to work for solid blockages.

baking soda and vinegar natural cleaner

DIY Natural Cleaner

You can create a DIY drain cleaner using bicarb soda (baking soda) and white vinegar. Simply pour the bicarb into the drain, followed by the vinegar. Cover the drain to prevent the mixture from bubbling out of the pipe. The chemical reaction between bicarb and vinegar produces oxygen, which scours the inside of the pipes, clearing them out. You may need to repeat the process a few times to get rid of the blockage entirely. Once the mixture has worked its way through the blockage, flush your pipes with hot water to remove any remaining residue.

bottle of caustic cleaner with danger symbol

Caustic Cleaner

You can purchase caustic chemical drain cleaners at your local hardware store or supermarket. These chemicals are capable of dissolving grease, hair, food and other common blockages. However, they are harmful to the environment and should be used sparingly. Caustic cleaners will not work on solid masses, like tree roots or small household items. Always protect your hands and face when working with chemical cleaners, and flush your pipes with water afterwards to get rid of any lingering chemicals.

man using a plunger in a sink


A plunger can clear a blocked drain just as it can clear a clogged toilet. Be sure to cover any overflow spouts before you begin plunging so you can get a strong seal. The up-and-down pressure created by the plunger can help to loosen any blockages so your pipes can flow smoothly once again. Plunging is most useful for solid blockages, but it is not very effective on grease build-up and mineral deposits.

plumber using a snake down bathroom sink

Snake and CCTV

A plumber’s snake, or electric eel tool, is suitable for more severe blockages. The rotating coil at the end of the cable spins rapidly, chipping away at the blockage until it has been cleared. Snakes have limited range, though, so the blockage needs to be near the opening of the drain in order for them to be effective. They also have the possibility of damaging your pipes, so it is best to try other methods first. You can purchase plumbers’ snakes at most hardware stores, or you can hire a licensed plumber to do the job for you.


Hydro-jets force a powerful stream of water through your pipes. The pressure that is created then forces the blockage through the pipes and out so that water can flow through once more. This method is much safer for your pipes than snaking, although it is not as effective against solid blockages. Although you can attempt hydro-jetting on your own, it is likely better to leave this task to a professional plumber who will have the experience necessary to do the job properly.

plumber inspecting excavated pipes


In the most extreme cases, your pipes may require full excavation. A plumber can identify the exact location of the blockage so that they know which pipe needs to be excavated. After digging out the earth around the pipe, the plumber can repair or replace the pipe in question. The earth can then be filled back in around the new pipe, restoring your property to its original condition. This type of work can be quite complicated, so it is best to trust a professional plumber to handle it for you.

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Trust Fluid Plumbing for Your Plumbing Needs

Here at Fluid Plumbing Services, we are always happy to assist our clients, both residential and commercial, with clearing blocked drains and other common plumbing issues. We are highly skilled at what we do and have the experience to handle just about any problem you can throw at us. We welcome you to get in touch with us to learn more about our services and how we can help you keep your drains flowing smoothly at all times. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

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