Drain & Sewer Cleaning

From time to time drains and sewers will block, with anything from food and grease to hair. Drain cleaners can remove the blockage, while also preventing their reoccurrence.

If it’s a single sink or toilet it’s likely to be grease and/or hair causing the blockage.

To tackle this, a number of products could be used, including chemical drain cleaners, plungers, air burst drain cleaners and even home remedy cleaners.

If it’s more than one fixture that’s blocked, you’ll need something that’s able to remove soft and hard obstructions along the whole length of the drain. Sewer jetters and electric drain cleaners are very effective and eliminate the problem reasonably quickly.

Chemical drain cleaners

These are available from most supermarkets and convenience shops and can be a liquid or solid corrosive.
They’re normally filled with sodium hypochlorite, sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, with up to a 50% concentration.

These chemical drain cleaners are very easy to use, and by following the instructions, they’re normally poured straight into the sink or drain. The cleaner then reacts with and disintegrates the blockage.

While the advantage is they’re readily accessible, chemical cleaners are known to lack effectiveness on blockages far away from the drain opening.

You also have to maintain extra caution when using, as they could damage skin, clothes and eyes if used incorrectly.

Handheld drain augers

These are designed to cope with blockages within eight metres of the drain opening. The cable enters the opening and is driven by a mechanical force from the operator rotating the drum.

Most cables are thin enough to bypass sink traps, but plumbers recommend avoiding use on toilets as they could scratch the ceramic.

Drain augers are readily accessible from hardware stores, and are relatively cheap.

The only real disadvantage is that they’re limited to eight metres in length. Of course, the cable could also twist in the system.

You also need to wear hand and eye protection. Remember to employ good hygiene when in contact with drain fluid.

Air burst drain cleaners

This type of cleaner uses accelerated gas to break up the blockage. It’s normally carbon dioxide, but could be normal air or any other gas.

This method is best adopted when trying to clear a blockage close to the opening and has a better range than a plunger. It’ll also not scratch the surface like a handheld auger.

Air burst cleaners do have a limited range though, and as always you should wear protection for hands and eyes.

Electric drain cleaners

Electric drain cleaners are in effect, longer versions of the handheld auger. The mechanical force twists the cable clockwise and up through the pipe.

They can also reach lengths of up to 40 metres, which is long enough to break up any blockages you’re likely to find.

One of the disadvantages of the electric cleaner is its cost and weight. It will set you back quite a bit of money, and it requires a substantial physical effort to control the cable.

As with all of the above, protective eyewear and gloves are a priority when dealing with waste drain water.

Sewer jetters

Sewer jetters use high pressured water to clean pipes and drains, while removing residue in the process. They can be up to several hundred feet in length.

Portable sewer jets can remove obstructions throughout the length of the pipe network, and also prevent the build-up of future blockages. They’re lower in cost and weight than electric cleaners.

One of the only disadvantages is their inability to remove harder objects such as tree roots. You’ll also need to be trained to use the jetter, so it’s best to call in an expert.

Once again protective eyewear and gloves are very important.

Enzymatic drain cleaners

Enzymatic’s contain bacteria cultures and react with sewer residue to help clear slow moving drains. Enzymatic cleaners are used for general maintenance, rather than fully clearing the blockage.

They have a low environmental impact, are easy to use, and are pretty cheap.

Meanwhile, they’re not as quick to clear blockages in the drain system as other methods. They also rely on liquid flowing through the pipe network in order to reach the blockage.

Always avoid contact with eyes and skin.


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