How to Keep Drains in Order

The underground drains in a house drainage system are laid in straight lines at a slight gradient. Since they can become blocked from time to time, every part of the underground system must be accessible to drain rods so that they can be cleared. Near the house there will be an inspection chamber (or manhole) to take the branch drains from the yard gulley and the house soil pipe.

  • The branch drains connect to a 4in. diameter drain which runs to another chamber probably situated just inside the garden boundary. If the house is an older one, the inspection chamber nearest the house could have an intercepting trap fitted, which is intended to prevent rats and sewer gases entering the house, however and is the likely cause of blockages.

underground Drains How to Keep Drains in Order

  • If the water in the w.c., sinks or basins drain away slowly, or if a water gully overflows, check this first chamber initially. It is the most likely trouble spot. Normally a blockage here can be cleared easily, using drain rods which can usually be hired locally.
  • A plunger (a 4in. diameter rubber disc) is screwed to the end of the rods to the work. Above the entrance to the trap there will be a stopper fitted into the end of a rodding arm. This arm enables blockage between the intercepting trap and the sewer to be cleared. Sometimes, the stopper can fall out of the arm into the trap causing a blockage.
  • A simple way to avoid this re-occurring is to cement a small glass disc in place of the stopper. If ever access to the rodding arm is needed the disc can be broken and replaced with another.

Screw two drain rods together. Fit a corkscrew head and push the rods down the manhole. Never turn the rods anti-clockwise or they will become unscrewed in the drain. If more than one drainpipe enters the manhole, push the rods down each one until the blockage is clear.

Most blockages in the sink waste pipes are easily cleared with a plunger. It is worth while buying one of these and they are often inexpensive. Stuff the overflow outlet in the sink with a wet rag. Position the plunger over the drain hole and let about 1in. of water into the sink; then pump vigorously the water will usually drain away quickly.

More stubborn blockages occur when the U bend of the waste pipe below the sink gets filled with matchsticks, hair, or other rubbish. Modern plastic pipe fittings are easy to deal with and normally only a U bend section or a bottle taps has to be unscrewed and cleaned out. Old metal pipe work can be more of a problem. In the bottom of the U bend is a drain plug which can be difficult to budge. An old chisel will often give sufficient leverage to move it.

A plunger will clear most blockages. When removing a bottle trap, U bend or drain plug, keep a bucket underneath to catch the sink water as it gushes out. A really stubborn plug in old pipe work may need a wrench to budge it. If, after removing the bottle trap, U bend or drain plug, the blockage still does not clear, feed a flexible curtain wire fitted with an eye down into the waste outlet of the sink and prod away the obstruction. If a blockage is in the waste pipe on the other side of the U bend, feed the curtain wire into the waste pipe from outside the house. The grid over the outside drain can become blocked by leaves and other debris. This can cause drains to smell. Lift out the grid and burn off all the debris by holding it over a fire made in the garden. Flush out the drain with hot water and soda before replacing the grid.

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