In the UK, almost £20 million per annum is spent on unblocking accumulated blockages of thick grease and material trapped within drainage and pipework. The figure does not include the cost of clean up after undetected blockages have resulted in flood damage to residential or business across Glasgow every year.
Dozens of tonnes of this waste is poured into the pipework every single day in a large city such as Glasgow. The waste fats solidify inside the drainage pipework and start to collect on the internal surface of the pipe and so its bore diameter is progressively reduced. As the fat accumulates the internal wall narrows, the flow rate is gradually reduced which allows for the build-up of more greasy fat. If nothing is done you have a clog in the pipework and there you have it, the entire drainage system backs up.
When waste water leaves a sink it first passes through the water trap beneath the sink and the trap which leads to the external water pipe. The usually warm waste water comes into contact with the cold water in the drainage piping. The fat effectively precipitates out of the hot water and collects in between the two traps.
To make matters worse if there are any clothing fibres or dirt particles then further combination occurs, resulting in a matrix that has the consistency of semi-solid cement. If the blockage has got to this stage then even regularly punching holes through it will only temporarily solve the problem. Eventually, you will need to call out a contractor or use the appropriate chemical cleaner. Clearly, preventing such an accumulation is preferred.
Preventing and clearing the blockage
Regularly flushing the drain with a solution of vinegar or citric acid, salt, bicarbonate of soda or borax will reduce the incidence of blocked drains. For example a 50:50 mix of vinegar and bicarbonate soda causing a foaming brew that will sit in between the water traps and begin to dislodge any accumulating material. Leave for at least 30 minutes and repeat if necessary.
After this time use a plunger to dislodge the clog and if that doesn’t work further action is required. If you are successful in your endeavours, finish by running hot water or several kettles of boiling water through the system, plunging as you go. Chemical cleaners work on a similar principle but if the above preventive measures are employed there necessity is reduced.
Calling a contractor
If the blockage just is not shifting it will be time to call in the professionals. It may be inevitable to do so because the blockage may be located more than 20cm below the sink. After this distance most available chemical cleaners become so diluted that they are useless once they come into contact with the clog. The contractor will have an array of specialist chemicals, spraying equipment, plumbing rods and other tools.
In conclusion, prevention is better than cure so regularly flush your drainage system. If after all your best efforts success is still elusive, then there is no shame in admitting defeat and getting on the phone.