How to Unblock a Drain Outside: Your Home Guide

Before you begin unblocking a drain outside your home, you first need to find out where the blockage is and determine if it’s actually your responsibility to handle. If the problem is outside your property boundary, then it will not be up to you to make sure the blockage is taken care of. 

To find out what to do, you should first contact your local water authority. They can advise on whether or not you are responsible for the drain and will come to unblock it if it is their responsibility. If this is the case, the problem will be solved and you won’t need to take any further action.

If the blocked drain is inside your property boundary and is your responsibility because you are the property owner, then you will need to choose a set of instructions to follow below. Each can tell you how to unblock a drain outside your home.

How to Unblock an Outside Drain

What You Need

No matter what kind of method you want to use to unblock an outside drain, you will need:

  • Rubber gloves
  • A face mask
  • Protective clothing or overalls
  • Protective eyewear, such as goggles
  • A screwdriver or rope, for lifting the drain cover
  • A bucket or bin bags
  • A pressure hose or washer, for washing the external drain and surrounding area after

Cleaning the Drain Cover

In some cases, clearing your outside drain might be as simple as removing and cleaning the drain cover. Outdoor debris like leaves, mud, and silt can easily build up around covers, so by clearing these away you might be clearing your problem.

The Hot Water Method

The next method you can try without needing many extra supplies is to pour boiling water down the drain. All you will need to do is fill up and boil your kettle and repeat the process of pouring it several times. Often, this will be all that’s needed in order to clear out the drain.

Using a Drain Rod or Snake

If you are using this method, you will also need a drain rod (also called a drain snake). Take the drain cover off, taking care not to let it fall into the drain, and examine it. If you can see the blockage, try to remove as much of it as possible with your (gloved) hands and empty the debris into your bucket or bin. If there is standing water, remove this first. 

You should be able to remove the rest with your drain rod. Insert the rod into the drain and twist and turn it into the blockage in a clockwise direction. When any remaining water starts to drain or the blockage starts to move more easily, you will know it’s working.

Bicarbonate of Soda and White Vinegar

This method begins much the same way as the boiling water method. Pour boiling water into the drain, but follow this with a cup of bicarbonate of soda. Add a cup of white vinegar after this, cover it back over and wait for an hour. Check on it after this time and repeat as necessary until the drain is clear.

Why Not Use Chemicals?

You should only pour chemicals into your internal drains. External drains connect to the sewers, meaning they tend to be longer and wider than internal ones. This means they are more likely to dilute the chemicals, making them less effective. 

There is also a chance that the chemicals used will cause pipes and appliances, including your toilet, to deteriorate, dissolve, or warp depending on the materials involved. Caustic soda should also be avoided for this reason.

Responsibility if You Are a Tenant

If you are a tenant of a property, generally speaking, it will be the responsibility of your landlord to ensure that blocked drains are cleared out. This is set out under section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 in England and Wales, though similar legislation is in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

UK legislation also makes it clear that landlords are not permitted to pass the costs of this kind of repair work on to their tenants.

The only exception to this rule is if the tenant is responsible for blocking the drain in the first place, for example, by willingly disposing of large amounts of fat, oil, and grease from their kitchen directly into an outside drain every day, or deliberately throwing items into the drain. In these cases, you would be liable and have to pay for its unblocking yourself.

Contacting the Professionals

If any of these methods don’t work, or if you already know for any reason that they won’t work if they are tried, then it will be time to call a professional drain service provider. These services are staffed by trained, qualified, and experienced drainage engineers who will have spent years handling a range of different drain types,  including outside drains.

If your home methods of unblocking an outdoor drain don’t work, professionals like those at BlockBusters have specialist tools available that can reach further or apply more pressure to the clog and provide a long-term solution.

For Fast Unblocking of Outside Drains

Our Emergency Plumbing Services

If you have a blocked drain in your home and it needs a more efficient cleaning out than home methods can give, get in touch with BlockBusters. Our team will come to your location fully equipped to properly clear out a clog from your system, however stubborn with high-tech tools like high-pressure drain jets.

Your drainage engineer will be local to you, so will be able to get to you within hours of being called. As a 24-hour service, they can also come to you at any time of day or night.
All of this work is competitively priced and we never charge hidden fees, so learn more about our services for blocked drains or get in touch to get the work done as soon as possible.

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