Dangers of Trying to Clear Out a Drain Yourself


Clogged drains are a common problem. All manner of household detritus, whether it’s food, hair and toilet paper or other materials that should never find their way down the plughole in the first place can build up over time and eventually block your drains completely.

For many homeowners, the natural reaction is to deal with it themselves, but as you’ll see below, this is rarely the best option. In fact, there are a number of common mistakes householders make that can cause serious and potentially expensive problems.

In this guide, we’re going to explore the four of the most common risks you face when trying to clear out a drain yourself and how they can be avoided…

Danger 1: Hazardous drain cleaners

For many homeowners, the first response to a blocked drain is to nip down to the store to buy the most powerful drain cleaner you can get your hands on. Unfortunately, many of the chemical drain cleaners available are so powerful that they don’t just attack the cause of the blockage. Some can even eat away at the cement holding your piping together, ruining drain pipes and damaging other equipment you try to use.

In many cases, drain cleaner also doesn’t fix the problem properly. Rather than removing the cause of the blockage completely, it merely provides a temporary fix before the drain clogs up once again. If you have children or pets, you also have to consider the risk of having drain cleaner in the home as it can cause chemical burns, respiratory irritation and other serious health effects.  

Danger 2: Increased risk of bacterial infection

We don’t want to be accused of scaremongering here, it’s our job simply to fix drains, but there are many different types of bacteria found in wet sinks and of course sewage that can present a serious risk to your health. Anyone attempting to fix a drain themselves should wear appropriate safety equipment. PVC gloves, goggles and a face mask are absolutely essential to protect you from bacteria like salmonella, E. coli and campylobacter jejuni (one of the leading causes of food-borne illnesses in the UK).

As well as the risks posed by bacteria, there are also gases that can do serious damage to your health. Methane, ammonia and carbon monoxide are all extremely dangerous gases that are a by-product of putrefying matter and can be particularly dangerous in such a confined space.  


Danger 3: Damaging your home

Another danger associated with trying to clear out a drain yourself is the risk of inadvertently damaging your home. A sewage backup is not likely to be high on anyone’s bucket list and it will cause a huge problem. As well as smelling awful, it is also filled with bacteria and viruses that can lead to diseases and make those who come into contact with it very ill.  

Tools such as plumbing snakes are a popular choice when trying to clear drains in the home, but in older homes with galvanised pipes, they can scrape the sides and even lead to cracks that can cause the pipes to break.

Danger 4: Unnecessary costs

Our final danger involves the use of “domestic drain rods”. In some cases, eager homeowners have purchased a domestic set of drain rods to tackle the issue themselves. These tools usually cost around £20-£30 and seem like a good idea at the time. However, more often than not, these sets are not as robust as the professional ones and often come undone resulting in a few rods being left down the drain. In extreme circumstances, they cannot be removed and the road needs to be dug up to retrieve them. In lesser cases, if this happens, professionals usually have to first unblock the drain and then use a specialist tool (combined with a CCTV drain camera), to pull the rods out resulting in a more expensive invoice than if a professional had been called out in the first place.

Hit the pause button and think

If you know what you’re doing with blocked drains then, by all means, tackle the problem yourself. However, given the risks, it’s usually best to leave it to the pros. We can return your plumbing system to perfect working order, making the repairs you require and avoiding future damage. If you do experience a sewage backup then call our team immediately and we will be on hand to provide the expert, emergency assistance you need.

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