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Fixing a blocked toilet or sink

One of the most common calls we receive is about fixing blocked toilets and sinks. As with other low-level household repairs, we ask that residents first attempt to solve the issue themselves before we visit. Below, we have outlined some straightforward steps you can take to attempt to repair a blocked toilet or sink.

An illustration of a plunger

Blocked toilets

Toilets can become blocked several reasons. The most common cause is either too much waste/paper has been put in the toilet, or, something has been put in the toilet that shouldn’t be there. Below, we have outlined some different toilet repair methods that you can attempt:

Unblocking the toilet without tools

If you can see what you suspect is causing the blockage, then you should be able to clear it by hand:

  1. Remove any long-sleeved clothing and put on a pair of long rubber gloves.
  2. Pull out whatever is causing the blockage and remove it.
  3. Flush the toilet to check that the blockage has gone.
  4. When reaching into the toilet, you can hold a plastic bag, grab the blockage and turn it inside out with the blockage inside it to keep it contained
  5. Make sure you wash your hand and arm afterwards to minimise the spread of germs
Using hot water and washing up liquid

This method can work if the water level in your toilet is low. It will not work in a situation where water isn’t draining and is at a high level:

  1. Put on some rubber gloves
  2. Shut off the water supply at the valve (to the side or underneath the toilet cistern)
  3. Pour some washing-up liquid (about 50ml) directly into the toilet bowl to lubricate.
  4. Wait 10 minutes.
  5. Carefully pour 2-3 litres of hot (but not boiling) water into the bowl very quickly, to create pressure against the blockage, then wait a few minutes
  6. If the water level doesn’t fall and there’s enough space inside the bowl, repeat
  7. If the blockage is still there, move on to using a toilet plunger (details below)
  8. Remember to turn the water supply back once the job is done
Using a plunger

If the above steps are not working (or in a situation where the water level in the toilet is high) then you should attempt to remove the blockage with a plunger:

  1. This method is best done with a fairly full bowl, not an empty on.
  2. Make sure you use a specialised toilet plunger (its rim is made specially to create a seal on the toilet waste pipe outlet) which you can purchase from a hardware shop, online, or in some large supermarket.
  3. Important: Make sure you cover the waste pipe outlet completely with the plunger’s rim so that neither air nor water can pass. If there are gaps, you can use some old rags to plug them.
  4. Push gently downwards and then pull up. Start gently – you don’t want to push the blockage further down.
  5. Gradually increase the force until the water starts to recede.
  6. Add more water to the bowl if you need to, then repeat.
  7. Take the plunger out then flush the toilet to see if the flow has returned to normal.
  8. If you have a bit more DIY experience and a plunger doesn’t work, you can also try to use a ‘plumber’s snake’ which you can get from a hardware shop.

If none of the above steps have worked for you, we can arrange for a repair to take place. Please note, if the blockage has been caused by misuse of the toilet, for example items other than toilet paper and waste being place in it, then you may be liable for a re-charge for the repair.

Blocked sinks

Blocked sinks are another problem that we can encounter in the home. When your sink is blocked, you may be tempted to purchase harsh and expensive chemical cleaning products, but you can be kinder to the environment and save money by following some of these tips.

Using boiling water

This can be one of the cheapest and most straightforward ways to clear a blocked sink and pipes:

  1. Ensure the water level in the sink is as low as possible. You should remove as much of the water as you can as this method will not work if the boiling water turns cold before getting to the drain and pipes.
  2. Boil a kettle of water.
  3. Once boiled, pour the entire kettle of water into the sink. Be careful not to splash the water or scold yourself.
  4. Wait to see if the blockage clears.
  5. If it doesn’t work the first time, remove the water from the sink and give it another go. It is worth trying this a couple more times.
Using baking soda and vinegar

Many of us will have these ingredients in our home already, so you can give this method a go:

  1. As above, ensure as much water as possible is removed from the sink.
  2. Place 3-4 tablespoons of baking soda in (or on) the plughole. Add a mugful of white vinegar to it and leave it for 10 minutes.
  3. Boil the kettle and once boiled carefully tip it all down the plughole. If this works, it should clear the blockage along with the vinegar and baking soda mix.
  4. Again, you may wish to repeat this method a couple more times.
  5. You can also add salt to the baking soda (similar amount) to create a stronger reaction. You can also try leaving it in the sink longer before adding the boiling water.
Using a plunger

Just like with a blocked toilet, you may need to make use of a plunger to get rid of a stubborn blockage:

  1. If you have a double sink, seal off the second side. You can do this with a wet cloth or a plug stopper.
  2. Fill the sink with hot water so that it’s about halfway full and creates a seal around the plughole.
  3. Position the plunger over the plughole, aiming to get a good seal.
  4. Start pumping the plunger up and down quickly and then remove the plunger and wait.
  5. If some or all the water drains, this means that the sink is unblocked. Once all the water is drained, you should then flush the sink with hot water and give it a clean.
  6. If this does not work at first, keep trying and be as vigorous as you can with the plunger.
  7. As with a toilet, you can also use a ‘plumber’s snake’ to clear a blocked sink drain.

If none of the above steps have worked for you, we can arrange for a repair to take place. Please note, if the blockage has been caused by misuse of the sink, for example plastic or cigarette butts being put in the sink, then you may be liable for a re-charge for the repair.

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Book a repair

If any of the above fixes haven’t sorted your problem, get in touch with us to book a repair. When you contact us we’ll ask if you’ve tried the steps above.

Find out how to book