Easy Fixes for Drain Issues

June 30, 2015

Not all drain issues require the help of a professional. Before calling the plumber, try these home remedies for drain issues.

Easy Fixes for Drain Issues

There’s a rotten smell from the drain

Fizz it clean

It's easy to banish the bad smell with some household basics.

  1. Pour one cup of white vinegar into the drain, followed by two crumbled effervescent antacid tablets.
  2. Leave the mix until it's stopped fizzing, then pour down plenty of hot water.

The sink drains too slowly

Plunge to bust the blockage

Sink wastes inevitably get clogged with debris, often glued together with soap, fat or detergent residue.

  1. First, remove any obvious blockages in the grid on the waste outlet.
  2. Shine a flashlight down the waste pipe and use long tweezers, or a hook improvised from a length of wire, to remove debris.

If this doesn't work, use a plunger — an essential tool to have in your home. It works by forcing air and water down the waste pipe to push the blockage free.

  1. Run a couple of centimetres (an inch) of water into the bottom of the sink — enough to cover the waste outlet.
  2. Block up the overflow hole at the top of your sink with a damp cloth to keep the waste airtight.
  3. Put the plunger over the waste outlet, then push it down firmly and quickly several times. You may feel the pressure ease as the blockage shifts.
  4. Lift off the plunger and the water should drain away — if it doesn't shift, plunge again — the blockage may just have moved down the pipe a little.

I don’t have a plunger

Improvise an effective tool from a tennis ball

If you don't have a plunger, take an old tennis ball and cut it horizontally one third of the way up. Place the open end of the larger part over the blocked sink-waste pipe. Block the overflow pipe with a damp cloth as above and run a small amount of water into the basin to make a seal with the edge of the ball. Place the ball of your hand over the tennis ball and plunge down hard and fast.


Always try to unblock pipes by mechanical means — a plunger, wire or by taking the waste apart — before trying chemical solutions. Drain cleaning chemicals are not only expensive, but can cause burns. Always wear rubber gloves and guard against splashes when using these compounds.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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