Help! How Do I Fix a Slow Drain?

slow draining sink

Do you think your drain is running a bit slow? If so, you probably have a clog or blockage. The good news is that partial blockages in a sink, shower, bath or toilet still allow the water to drain. However, slow draining is still very much a household problem that can get worse and eventually block up the drain or pipe completely.

Slow drains affect sinks, showers, baths, toilets – even outdoor drains. Not only does a complete blockage stop drainage entirely, but partial or full blockages can also cause the following issues:

  • Bacterial buildup: Any level of blockage can create a breeding ground for bacteria, including salmonella and E. coli. This can cause illness if adults, children or pets are exposed and unchecked clogs can spread bacteria throughout the plumbing system.
  • Bad smells: Many kinds of clogs, such as grease, fats, hair and soap scum can cause foul odours inside the house. Multiple types of clogs can come together to create quite nasty, nausea-inducing stenches indoors – whether the drain is in use or not!
  • Mould and insects: Mosquitoes and other pests are drawn to the stagnant water of a slow drain, and these conditions can help them to reproduce. Higher humidity from the stagnant and often warm water can also spread mould in drains, pipes or beyond.

Luckily, there are several ways you can fix a slow drain yourself at home – either by using simple home remedies or low-cost tools available from most hardware stores. However, for very slow drains that do not respond to our tips, you may need a professional solution.Β 
We perform a wide range of drain unblocking services in the south coast region of the UK, so we know a thing or two about what works and what is simply an old wives tale. Please feel free to get in touch to fix a slow drain in East and West Sussex, Kent, Surrey or Hampshire.

How to Fix a Slow Draining Sink

kitchen sink drain

Whether you are experiencing slow draining in a bathroom sink, kitchen sink or an external sink in a garage or outbuilding, the following tips can help you to dislodge any clogs:

  • Try pouring hot or boiling water down the drain: Pouring hot water or boiling water into sink drains can unclog them. Sinks can clog with soap scum from hand washing, which dissolves well in high temperatures. Do not use boiling water on ceramic sinks.
  • Clean your garbage disposal: If you have a garbage disposal in your sink this may be the true cause of a slow drain. Cleaning out the filter in a garbage disposal can resolve this issue – and you can take out any extra strainers you have and clean them out, too.
  • Use a drain cleaner: This tip is great if your sink is in a garage or outdoors, as dirt, grime leaves and even substances like oil, glue and cement might go into the drain. Commercial drain cleaners use strong chemicals and are available in many shops.

A kitchen or bathroom sink draining slowly can be frustrating but they are typically the easiest to fix. You can also clean the P-trap, the curved pipe directly under the drain, by removing it and cleaning it as a last resort – you just need a wrench to unscrew it and a bucket for the waste.

How to Fix a Slow Draining Shower

slow draining shower drain

Hair and dead skin cells, oily shampoos and other products can all build up and result in a slow draining, sometimes overflowing, shower. Consider the following tips to get rid of the blockage:

  • Use a coat hanger to dislodge the clog: Hair is particularly hard to get rid of in a shower drain, and hot or boiling water and even strong drain cleaners often do not work. Straighten a coat hanger and create a hook, then insert it into the clog and yank it out.
  • Manually remove the clog: Many shower trays have removable drain covers so you can usually reach quite far into the drain by yourself. After putting on some rubber gloves, stick your fingers into the drain area and see if you can remove any debris.
  • Try baking soda and vinegar: Pouring one part baking soda and two parts white vinegar into the drain can cause a reaction to dislodge clogs, particularly if it is soap scum. Use the soda first and then gently pour the vinegar down the drain and rinse.

You might think that flowing water down the drain from your daily shower will not cause much of an issue, but shower units typically have a low threshold – so even low levels of slow draining can have dramatic consequences such as flooding and overflow. Check the water level regularly.

How to Fix a Slow Draining Bath

Baths use huge amounts of water so the pressure created by such a large volume in the drain is normally sufficient to push out blockages. But, if this is not the case, the following tips work well:

  • Use a wire coat hanger: To fix a slow drain in a bath try the coat hanger method as we described above. You will need to remove as much water as possible before doing this, so you can use a bucket to bail out any standing water before inserting a hanger.
  • Try a plunger: Plungers are good because they create a vacuum seal around the drain capable of generating a lot of pressure. Place the plunger over the drain and press it down to create the seal before vigorously moving it up and down to remove the clog.
  • Get a drain snake: A drain snake (or plumber’s snake) is a simple yet inexpensive tool available in most hardware stores – quite useful for more stubborn blockages. It uses a helix-shaped wire to β€˜snake’ down the drain, thus penetrating and removing any clogs.

The drain snake technique is a good last resort. However, unfortunately, baths that do not drain better after trying these methods often require professional intervention. For bath drains, most professional options involve home repairs to the existing pipework or jetting to make water flow. 

How to Fix a Slow Draining Toilet

what is a saniflo

If you need to fix a slow drain in a toilet you probably have a clog caused by waste and paper. It is not a very nice thing to deal with! The best ways to get rid of a large clog include the following:

  • Drain cleaners: Paper and waste degrade at a level that grease and fat do not, so a strong commercial drain cleaner may be effective. You can use these alongside the hot water or baking soda tip for an extra powerful method of unclogging a toilet.
  • Coat hanger method: Waste and paper in a toilet drain can become quite dense and compact, so a sharp pointy end of a coat hanger is very useful when unclogging. As the drain in a toilet is quite large, you can also use the hook of the hanger as a point.
  • Use a drain snake: Drain snakes are a simple and affordable tool but can do wonders for the most stubborn blockages. They can also reach quite far into the plumbing system, models will vary in length, so they can be used for deep blockages in a toilet.

The dangers of bad toilet drainage are much more unpleasant than slow draining water in the sink, shower or bath. Overflowing toilets can cause water and waste to spill into the bathroom – a very unhygienic problem. To prevent blocked toilets never flush anything but waste and paper.

Get a Professional Solution to Fix a Slow Drain

If the above tips do not work to fix a slow drain in your sink, shower, bath or toilet then you may need a professional. Professional plumbers use techniques such as rodding, jetting, patch lining and pipe repairs. Check out more helpful plumbing and drainage tips on our fantastic blog

Calling a plumber can give you access to better tools and equipment, expertise and a more long-lasting solution. However, many plumbers charge a call-out fee, so make sure you try these strategies above before calling. Always check for reviews on independent sites like Checkatrade.

The BlockBusters team deals with blockages and other drainage problems both indoors and outdoors. We offer drain unblocking services in many areas of the southeast of the UK, with no call-out fee. You will see our low prices and professional team when you get in touch with us.

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