How to clean your drain

It’s happening in houses across the world and this unpleasent experience usually has one simple explanation – the drain is partially blocked or liberally coated with all that gunk that gets washed down the drain when you do the dishes, brush your teeth, wash your hair, etc.

Good news! It’s actually quite simple to clear this blockage and have your drain come up smelling of roses, well maybe not roses, but much more pleasant for sure. It’s just a bit of a messy process.

CAUTION: Caustic soda is very corrosive, so wear eye protection, rubber gloves and old clothes, and do not run the tap so hard that it causes splashing. Have the plug attached to a length of string or its chain so you can remove it without your hand having to go into the caustic soda solution.

If any solution gets on your skin, wash it off immediately with clean water. If you experience an ongoing irritation or burning sensation, seek medical advice. If any gets into your eyes, rinse them out with clean water and seek medical advice as soon as you can.

Now that you’ve been briefed on safety consideration, let’s move on to the simple process of clearing your drain.

Project Guide:

Difficulty: Simple
Estimated time: 30 minutes
Cost: About R30 for the caustic soda

*All materials are available at Selected Mica Stores. To find your nearest Mica and to enquire about availability, please go to www.mica.co.za, to use our store locator. If your local Mica does not stock exactly what you need they will be able to order or suggest an alternative product or a reputable source.

Method:

  1. Yes, it looks pretty gross but you will only be working on the outside drain for a few minutes. To identify which pipe leads to the offending sink, have someone on the inside run the tap so you can spot the outflow. Once you’ve identified the culprit, have the inside person run the water until it’s running hot, then turn it off.
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  3. Now ball up and jam a plastic shopping bag into the end of the pipe with the handles free and clear.
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  5. Now head back inside, sprinkle about a tablespoon of caustic soda flakes into the hot water.
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  7. Once you’ve done that, remove the plug so that the caustic solution can enter the drain and sit for a while. Add more flakes and fill the sink about halfway.
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  9. Take a break for a few minutes to let the solution do its work, then pull the bag free using its handles. Be careful at this point not to get any of the solution on your skin. Stand well back. Don’t be too disgusted by what comes out of the pipe – it means it’s working.
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  11. You can use the same technique for clearing bathroom basin drains.
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  13. When clearing a shower drain, you can use the same method as above. We suggest making a makeshift with a plastic back filled with sand and placing it over the shower’s drain. Aim the shower head to the wall, as spraying it directly onto the base can cause splashing. Now you can remove the bag and watch your troubles gurgle away down the cleared drain.
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  15. If the drain is blocked, get your hands on a drain cleaner. It is specially designed to go down the drain and around tight corners. Once you reach the obstruction, crank the handle. The end of the device is like an open spring, grabbing whatever is causing the problem, allowing you to pull it free.
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  17. To reduce the distance needed to shove the drain cleaner in, begin by removing the U-bend under the basin. If the U-bend happens to be the cause of the blockage, you can clear it by squeezing it and working it around with your hand. This will get the blockage to move so you can remove it easily. If the blockage is not in the U-bend, continue with the following steps.
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  19. By removing the U-bend, you can get the cleaner further down the drainpipe.
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  21. Work it down in a steady series of motions. You might need to turn it a bit when it reaches bends to help the end make it around the corner.
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  23. Once it’s reached the deepest point it could possibly go, crank the handle a few times to loosen up and remove the blockage.
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  25. Now replace the U-bend. Let the clamp face to the right to make it easier to work on in future.
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  27. Run the tap again to see if you were successful and you’re done.
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