Blocked drains happen to the best of us, but it doesn’t have to drain you of your energy or savings. 

Your drain might be kept out of sight, but once it no longer performs the way it’s supposed to operate, you’ll very much know about its existence and the crucial part it has to play in your home. In fact, you might also smell that something isn’t quite right: one more reason to call a plumber. 

While annoying and inconvenient, blocked drains are one of the most common plumbing problems that homeowners in Canberra and across Australia face. The good news is that there are a few relatively easy steps that you can take to try and unblock the drain. Here are three signs that you might need to get that plunger ready and four other things to try when the plunger fails. 

What are early signs of a blocked drain?

Before you’re greeted by a pool of water in your bathtub or sink that has nowhere to drain, here are some other signs that might indicate your drains aren’t functioning as they should:

Gurgling sound

Hollow, bubbling sounds could be an early indication that things are starting to go south. These types of sounds could be a sign that water is pushing against a pipe. 

Unpleasant smell

A foul smell is often the first indication that you have a blocked drain. So, if your kitchen or bathroom starts to smell similar to sewage and bad hygiene isn’t to blame, it could be your drains at fault. 


If you see water spilling back up or it takes longer for water to drain, there might be a blocked drain lingering below the surface. The bad news is that this issue will likely grow larger, just like the pool of water waiting to drain. 

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Five easy ways to unclog a blocked drain

If overgrown tree roots aren’t the root cause of your blocked drain, here are some methods that you can try:


Plungers might not boast a beautiful design, but they remain one of the most effective tools to help you take care of a blocked drain. As they’re easy to use and affordable, they’re often the first plumbing tool that homeowners in Canberra grab (though, they might first have to do a quick search to find out where it has been hidden out of sight). In short, plungers create a seal around the hole of the plug to create a vacuum effect that can dislodge the blockage. 

Boiling water

If the plunger didn’t do the trick (or you couldn’t find one), it’s time to put on the kettle. Boiling water can help to get rid of grease and other substances like conditioner that can cause the drain to become blocked. The high heat of the boiling water can help to melt or break up these greasy-like substances or possibly even help to shift other foreign matter. 

Just be careful when pouring the hot water down the drain. If it works, you can always use the remaining boiling water for a celebratory coffee or tea so that only the water needed to clear the blockage goes down the drain. 


Another option is to try natural or caustic cleaners. You can, for example, pour boiling water down the blocked drain followed by a cup of bicarbonate soda and a cup of vinegar. After about 10 minutes, pour more boiling water down the drain. This homemade brew will create a fizzing effect that can help to clear up blockages. 

If you don’t have any bicarbonate soda or vinegar at hand and need to run to the store in any case, you can check if your store stocks any caustic cleaners. These products are stronger and a better option if you’re dealing with a more serious blockage. When using a caustic cleaner, carefully follow the instructions on the packaging, ensure the room is well ventilated, and remember to store it afterwards well out of reach of children and/or pets. 

Drain snakes

If you suspect that the blockage is caused by a foreign object, like a hairball, and not necessarily a build-up of grease, you can try using a drain snake. There’s no need to run the store. All you need is a thin metal wire (a coat hanger will work perfectly) and some DIY skill. Then, bend the wire to form a snake-like shape with a hook at the end. If you’re using a coat hanger, you will need to reshape the hook part so that it can fit through a plughole. Insert your homemade drain snake into one of the plugholes and maneuver it gently while trying to remove the potential blockage. This method works better for bathtubs or showers where hair is most likely the culprit.   

Wet/dry vacuum

If you have a wet/dry vacuum, you can use it to suck up potential waste from a clogged drain. Word of warning, though, it can get messy. So, make sure that you first create a seal over the plughole to prevent any waste from flying in other directions than your vacuum cleaner’s pipe. Switch the vacuum to its liquid setting and place it over the plughole. Using its most powerful suction setting, leave it to run for about two minutes. Then, switch off the vacuum, remove it from the plughole, open the tap, and let water run gently down the drain. 

Hire professional plumbers to fix your drain pain

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One of the ways that you can prevent blocked drains is by getting professional plumbers to maintain your drains. Ideally, it should be done about every three years. Not only can plumbers help to prevent blocked drains, but they also have a set of other specialized tools that can help clear blocked drains if your initial DIY attempts failed. 

The experienced professionals at Fluid Plumbing have been maintaining drains and fixing blocked drains for more than 12 years. From general plumbing to hot water installations, our specialty plumbers have helped homeowners in Canberra with various residential plumbing services. Not only are we experienced, but all our plumbers are also fully licensed and insured. 

If you need help unclogging a blocked drain or want to reduce the chances of it happening, feel free to call us on 0411169327 or simply complete this form for a free quote.