A blocked outside drain can be unpleasant because it gives off a nasty odor, and it can also stop your drainage system from working as it should. If there are serious issues with your drains, you will need to call in a professional plumber to unblock them or fix any damage, but if it's a simple blockage, you may well be able to fix the problem yourself.
Is It Your Responsibility?
Before you get stuck in unblocking the drain, it is a good idea to make sure that you are the one who is responsible for fixing it. If the blocked drain is on your property solely and is your outside kitchen drain, for example, then you will be solely responsible for its repair.
If, however, it is an external drain that isn't fully on your property and is shared by your neighbors, the responsibility might lie with your local water company. It can be a good idea to have a chat with your neighbors to see if they are also experiencing drainage problems.
What Caused A Blocked External Drain?
Blocked drains can be caused by a variety of issues. With outside drains, a common reason is that outdoor debris like dead leaves, mud, moss, twigs, etc. have got into the drain and clumped together to form a mass along with sludge and a nasty smell.
An outside kitchen drain is also prone to be blocked due to fats, oils, grease, coffee grounds, and food particles being put down the sink. These materials are liquid while you are cooking but will solidify as they cool down in the drain.
An outside bathroom and sewage drain can have blockages that come from clumps of hair and soap scum, as well as sanitary products and wet wipes being flushed down the toilet.
How To Unblock An Outside Drain
There are some steps you can take to unblock drains yourself, but with outside drains, you need to be more careful than for indoor drains. This is because there can be sewage water fin the drain that can be hazardous to your health. So before you start, make sure that you are wearing protective clothing such as waterproof overalls, long waterproof gloves, as well as eye and mouth protection.
Boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar
Before you start manually dealing with the blocked drains, it can be a good idea to give a simple homemade solution a try. Mixing hot water, baking soda, and vinegar can help to unblock smaller clogs and can make your life a little easier when it comes to removing debris.
Boiling water will help by turning some of the grease back into liquid so that it will more easily flush through the drains. The combination of baking soda and vinegar creates a fizzing chemical reaction that can help to break up the clump into smaller pieces. This is because baking soda is an alkali and vinegar is an acid.
Chemical drain unblockers
Chemical drain cleaners come in a variety of forms. Some of them contain caustic soda and lye whereas others contain bleach, peroxide, and nitrates. These ingredients create a chemical reaction when they are in contact with the clog which creates heat to help break it down, and they are also heavier than water which helps to force the materials further through the drainage system.
Drain rods, bucket, and hose
A drain rod will do wonders for getting your outside drain unblocked. It is made of a series of long, thin, flexible rods with steel joints that can be easily pushed through the drain. Depending on the drain rod insert that you use, you might have a chimney-style brush on the end to help.
Before you start with the drain rod, it can be a good idea to see what you can grab with your hands first. This is a pretty disgusting prospect, but it can make the whole job a little easier. Get yourself a bucket and make sure you are wearing thick waterproof gloves then take off the drain cover. Reach into the drain and try to get as much sludge and other outdoor debris out as you can then place them in the bucket.
Once you have cleared out as much as you can by hand, you can bring out the drain rod. Insert the drain rod into the drain pipe and keep adding sections as far as you can. Move it around in a clockwise direction to try and break up as many of the blockages into smaller pieces as you can.
The next step is to try and flush as much of the remaining debris through the drain as possible. The best tool for this part of the job is a pressure hose, but a bucket and water can do a decent job as well. You could even pour boiling water, baking soda, and vinegar down one more time at this stage.
When To Call In A Professional Drainage Company
If drain rodding doesn't work, it might be time to bring in a drainage company. And if the drain is completely backed up to the point where it is overflowing, this needs to happen as soon as possible.
A drainage engineer will be able to run diagnostic tests, such as a CCTV drain survey, to investigate drain blockages. They will be able to see if it is a simple blockage or if there is something like tree root ingress going on.
If it is a simple but stubborn blockage, then they may use high-powered drain jetting to shift it, and they can use other tools such as electromechanical cutting tools to get rid of any tree roots.
They will also be able to assess any damage and help you to prevent the blockage from happening again.
Getting To The Bottom Of Your Drain Problem!
Blocked outdoor drains are quite a common problem but they are often something that you can deal with yourself, using the right tools. Preventing the problem from happening again can be as simple as investing in drain covers and being careful about what you flush down the drains.