Skip to main content

How to clear a pipe blockage

person using a plunger to clear a blocked sink - How to clear a pipe blockage

When it comes to plumbing problems in your home, pipe blockages are some of the most common. Inconvenient and sometimes smelly, a blocked drain can often be a source of frustration and embarrassment – especially when guests visit. From sinks and toilets to waste pipes, there’s a range of pipes that can be the bane of your drainage system’s existence.

However, there are many solutions to your pipe blockage woes! From easy DIY remedies to more in-depth fixes, here are the three most common pipe blockages, and more importantly, how to clear them!

Table of contents

  1. How to clear a blocked sink
  2. How to clear a blocked toilet
  3. How to clear a blocked soil pipe
  4. Where is your soil pipe located?
  5. How to protect yourself from pipe blockages

How to clear a blocked sink

It’s important to note that if the water doesn’t drain at all, you’ve got a complete blockage, which means there’s an obstruction somewhere in the waste pipe. Thankfully, there’s a range of methods you can use to solve this problem.

Method 1: Plunge into the unknown

You will need:

  • plunger
  • damp cloth

If you’ve got a completely blocked waste pipe, fill your sink up part way and place the cup of a sink plunger over the plug-hole. Follow that by stuffing a damp cloth into the overflow to prevent any pressure loss. Pump the plunger up and down vigorously – go on, give it some welly! Finally, take the plunger away and see if the water has drained. If not, don’t fret – you may need to repeat the process a few times to see the full results.

Method 2: Natural Solution

You will need:

  • cup of baking soda
  • ½ a cup of vinegar
  • pair of gloves
  • pair of goggles

Start by pouring a cup of baking soda down your drain, followed by ½ a cup of vinegar. Following this, place a cover over the drain for 30 minutes – we find a plate does the trick. After half an hour, take the cover off your blocked sink drain and pour hot water down it for 2-3 minutes. You may need to repeat this process if the block doesn’t clear the first time around.

Method 3: it’s a trap!

What you will need:

  • bucket
  • pair of gloves
  • pack of washers or o-rings
  • possibly x1 drain auger

Place a bucket under the waste trap to catch any spillage, after all, you don’t want to be covered in whatever has caused this annoying obstruction. Once it’s in place, unscrew the trap and empty the contents into the bucket. Then put the trap back together, making sure to replace any washers or o-rings you may have removed.

Top tip: Don’t over-tighten the waste trap, as it’ll make it harder to undo in the future. If there wasn’t anything blocking the waste trap, use a drain auger to probe into the waste pipe further.

If you’d like to learn more handy tips and tricks to unblock your basin, check out our “how to unblock your kitchen sink” article.

How to clear a blocked toilet

We all know that a blocked toilet can be a huge source of annoyance. Thankfully, there are easy fixes to this u-bend mishap.

But first, you need to diagnose what kind of toilet blockage you’re suffering from. If you’re experiencing rising water that almost hits the rim when you flush and then drains away slowly, then chances are you’re suffering from a blocked toilet. However, if the blockage isn’t in the pan, there could be a problem in the main drainage system.

The following tricks may work if you’re experiencing a blocked toilet.

Method 1: The hot flush

What you’ll need:

  • bucket of warm water

This might be the oldest trick in the book. Simply pour a bucket of warm water down the pan from a height. This often dislodges minor toilet blockages with very little effort.

Method 2: The return of the plunger

What you’ll need:

  • plunger
  • pair of gloves

As mentioned earlier, the plunger really is your best friend when tackling tricky drain blockages – and nowhere is this more true than when squashing disputes in the “official study of the vicarage”.

To start, place your toilet plunger over the pan outlet and pump the handle up and down. Remember to give it some gusto! Once again, you might need to repeat this process a couple of times before seeing its full results.

Method 3: Augers eliminate all

What you’ll need:

  • toilet auger

If your previous attempts have been fruitless. It might be time to bring out the big guns!

An auger that’s specifically designed for toilets has an extending probe that can explore the u-bend and even rotates as you turn the handle – removing the blockage with a twist of a handle. However, make sure you wear protective gloves and read the manufacturer’s instructions before attempting this job.

Need more help? Check out our guide on how to fix a blocked toilet  for more information.

How to clear a blocked soil pipe

A blocked soil pipe can be a tricky thing to diagnose if you’re not a plumbing professional. However, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for – these include:

1. Unpleasant smells
2. Water drains slowly from your toilet

Due to what flows through your soil pipes, repairs tend to be rather messy. So we’d recommend seeking a professional plumber’s advice for this one. However, there are some simple checks that you can conduct to combat the problem yourself.

Where is your soil pipe located?

Your soil pipe is usually found above your roof or on the side of your property. It’s worth noting that older cast iron pipes tend to stick out from the roof. More modern plastic pipes are often found on the side of the building, branching out in a tree-like shape.

Before you start, it’s important to note that the top of the vent can become blocked by leaves and other debris. If possible, make sure the cover is intact and that any blockages are cleared and you might be able to avoid the unblocking process altogether!

DIY method

Fixing a blocked soil pipe requires a little bit of bravery if you’re going to do it yourself, as the blockages can be less than pleasant. However, if you haven’t got the stomach for it, you can always call on a drainage expert.

If you’re still up for the challenge, here’s a six-step guide to clearing a soil pipe blockage yourself.

Step 1 – get equipped

The first thing you need to do is get properly equipped. Protective clothing and a face mask are a must, so don’t start the task until you’re suited up.

Step 2 – check your piping

Checking the type of soil pipe your home features is a very important step. If you find your pipe is made of cast iron, you may have hit a stumbling block already. The heavy-duty nature of these pipes means that they’ll be cleared by a vent above the roof, which will be harder to access without the help of a professional. On the other hand, if your soil pipe is plastic it should be much easier to unblock.

Step 3 – push through

Pass the auger through the pipe until you reach the blockage. When found, crank the handle – this releases a coiled wire. You can then push and pull the auger and the wire will hopefully remove whatever it is that’s causing the problem.

Step 4 – make it squeaky clean

Once your water is running free and clear, make sure to disinfect the stack thoroughly, using anti-bacterial sprays and a hose, before putting it back together.

How to protect yourself from pipe blockages

Your pipes are the veins of your home, so it’s important to help prevent and be protected from any mishaps. A great way to deal with piping issues and sleep more soundly at night is to opt for plumbing and drainage cover. We can help cover your home in the event of leaking pipes, blocked drains, blockages in your sink and toilet, and even seized taps.

To find out more about plumbing and drainage protection, take a look.

Share this post

About the author

Aspiring house-owner and interior design fan, Tom is always on the hunt to make people’s lives easier through his writing - whether it’s through life hacks, how-to guides or home inspo.
Read more

Share this post

About the author

Aspiring house-owner and interior design fan, Tom is always on the hunt to make people’s lives easier through his writing - whether it’s through life hacks, how-to guides or home inspo.
Read more

Still looking for more help & advice?

Our help & advice articles cover Plumbing, Home heating, Electrical, Energy-saving and Home maintenance.

View all articles