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Essential Guide to Handling Blocked Drains: Who to Contact and When

Blocked drains are a common and frustrating household problem. They can cause unpleasant odors, slow water drainage, and in severe cases, flooding and property damage. Knowing who to call when you have blocked drains can save you time, money, and stress. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the steps to take when faced with this issue, ensuring that you understand the options available and can make an informed decision.

Understanding the Causes of Blocked Drains

Before diving into who to call, it’s essential to understand what causes blocked drains. Common causes include:

  1. Hair: Hair often gets tangled and caught in pipes, leading to clogs, especially in bathroom sinks and showers.
  2. Grease and Fat: Pouring grease and fat down the kitchen sink can solidify and accumulate over time, causing blockages.
  3. Foreign Objects: Items such as sanitary products, wipes, and small toys can get lodged in the pipes.
  4. Soap Scum: Soap residue can combine with minerals in water, forming a hard, crusty build-up that narrows the pipes.
  5. Tree Roots: Tree roots can infiltrate underground pipes, causing significant blockages and even pipe damage.
  6. Mineral Buildup: Hard water can cause mineral deposits to accumulate, restricting water flow.

DIY Solutions for Blocked Drains

Before calling a professional, there are several DIY methods you can try to clear blocked drains:

  1. Plunger: A plunger can be effective for minor clogs in sinks and toilets. Ensure a tight seal around the drain and plunge vigorously.
  2. Boiling Water: Pouring boiling water down the drain can help dissolve grease and soap scum.
  3. Baking Soda and Vinegar: This natural remedy involves pouring baking soda followed by vinegar down the drain. The chemical reaction can help break down clogs.
  4. Drain Snake: A drain snake or auger can be used to manually remove obstructions in the pipes.
  5. Chemical Drain Cleaners: While effective, these should be used with caution as they can damage pipes and harm the environment.

If these methods fail to resolve the issue, it’s time to call in the professionals.

Who to Call for Blocked Drains

When your efforts to clear blocked drains prove unsuccessful, it’s crucial to call the right professionals. Here are the options:

  1. Plumbers

Plumbers are the most common professionals called for blocked drains. They have the expertise and tools to diagnose and fix a wide range of plumbing issues. Plumbers can handle everything from minor clogs to major blockages caused by tree roots or collapsed pipes. When choosing a plumber, consider the following:

  • Experience: Look for a plumber with extensive experience in dealing with blocked drains.
  • Certifications: Ensure they are licensed and certified.
  • Availability: Check if they offer emergency services, especially if the blockage is severe.
  • Reviews: Read customer reviews to gauge their reputation and reliability.
  1. Drain Cleaning Specialists

Drain cleaning specialists focus exclusively on clearing blocked drains. They use specialized equipment, such as high-pressure water jets and CCTV cameras, to identify and remove blockages. These specialists are particularly useful for recurring drain issues or severe blockages. When hiring a drain cleaning specialist, consider:

  • Technology: Ensure they use modern equipment and techniques.
  • Expertise: Verify their expertise in dealing with different types of blockages.
  • Guarantees: Check if they offer guarantees on their work.
  1. Sewer Contractors

If the blockage is in the main sewer line, a sewer contractor might be necessary. Sewer contractors are equipped to handle extensive sewer line repairs and replacements. Signs of a main sewer line blockage include multiple drains backing up, gurgling sounds from toilets, and water pooling around floor drains. When choosing a sewer contractor, consider:

  • Scope of Work: Ensure they can handle large-scale projects.
  • Permits: Verify that they can obtain the necessary permits for the work.
  • Experience: Look for contractors with experience in sewer line repairs and replacements.
  1. Property Management Services

For rental properties or large residential complexes, property management services may have their own maintenance teams to handle blocked drains. These teams are familiar with the plumbing systems of the property and can quickly address issues. If you’re a tenant, report the blockage to your property manager immediately.

Preventing Future Blockages

Once the blocked drains are cleared, it’s important to take steps to prevent future blockages:

  1. Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular inspections and maintenance of your plumbing system.
  2. Proper Disposal: Avoid pouring grease, fat, and coffee grounds down the drain. Dispose of them in the trash instead.
  3. Use Drain Guards: Install drain guards to catch hair, food particles, and other debris.
  4. Flush Properly: Only flush toilet paper and human waste. Avoid flushing wipes, sanitary products, and other foreign objects.
  5. Monitor Tree Growth: If you have trees near your sewer line, monitor their growth and consider root barriers or regular inspections to prevent root infiltration.


Blocked drains are an inconvenience that can lead to significant problems if not addressed promptly. While DIY solutions can sometimes clear minor blockages, it’s often necessary to call in professionals such as plumbers, drain cleaning specialists, or sewer contractors for more severe issues. By understanding the causes of blocked drains and knowing who to call, you can ensure that your plumbing system remains in good working order. Additionally, taking preventative measures can help reduce the likelihood of future blockages, saving you time and money in the long run.

In summary, blocked drains are a common household issue that requires timely and appropriate action. Whether you attempt to resolve the issue yourself or call in professionals, addressing blocked drains promptly can prevent more severe problems and maintain the functionality of your plumbing system.