This Article is About
cold showers
caustic soda
game of cards
rain water
bad smell
water feature
How To Clear Blocked Drains
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Along with running hot and cold water, electric light, central heating, a cold fridge and a cistern that flushes, having our waste water automatically disappear into the never never is one of modern life's great luxuries. We are so used to having these services that sometimes we forget what luxuries they are. Until they don't work that is.

Victoria's great gas shut down in the '90's gave us a glimpse into the dark ages. No gas heating, no gas hot water. Cold showers and cold houses for weeks and weeks. If the electricity goes out during a thunderstorm we get out the candles and huddle around a game of cards. Good fun for about two hours, then we realise we're missing our favourite TV show and have forgotten how to boil a billy for an evening cup of tea. Oh, and everything in the fridge is melting.

Blocked drains are similar and potentially more damaging. If you can't use your dishwasher, can't flush the loo, can't empty your bath, can't shower because the shower base is so small, the rain water is going everywhere but down the pipe and your water feature is overflowing, things can get a bit annoying. Worse still, you risk water going into places where it really shouldn't go – your walls, under your floors, places where dampness starts to make a bad smell and things may rot. Remember that your home and contents insurance may not cover these type of leaks so check your policy.

Most of us will just call a plumber because that's the sensible thing to do. They have the equipment and the experience to quickly deal with most scenarios. However, if it's outside normally working hours (which it inevitably is), or requires taking things out, disassembling things, replacing things, it all starts to become expensive.

At this point the man of the house will normally put up his hand and get about fixing the blockage. Unless he's a real handy man he will probably get three things – a container of caustic soda (or draino if he's extravagant), a plunger and a coat hanger.

If he's tackling a sink, a bath or a shower he may actually get somewhere with this equipment. Some caustic soda mixed with cold water and then left to do it's work down the drain for fifteen minutes, followed by some vigorous plunging, can work wonders. It may take several goes over a couple of days but this can be pretty effective. Same with the toilet.

Blocked gutter drains will probably be more of a coat hanger job. Or perhaps a hose with the nozzle removed. Something that can snake its way down to the blockage where more vigorous pushing and pulling can sometimes do the job.

The water feature may be a bit more challenging and could require outside assistance. Well that’s the price for the sound of serenity!

If these things don't work and you are looking at a blockage underground the home handyman plan may have run its course. Bite your lip and get the guy with the CCV camera and 30 metre metal spring thing. He may cost you money, but not really that much considering it’s one of life's great luxuries.


Street Talk

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