Ways to repair your blocked outside drains

Blockages in outdoor drains tend to be a little more difficult to resolve than your average blocked sink, but it is possible with the right tools and knowledge.

Is there a strange odour coming from your house? Are you having trouble draining your sink? You sound like you have a bit of a blockage. Don't panic, however. The task of unblocking a drain is relatively easy, and you probably won't need to call an expert.

You may have a blockage in either your external or internal drains. If the drain is located within your property boundary, you are responsible for maintaining and repairing it. However, if you want to save money, we suggest doing it yourself.

Blockages in outdoor drains tend to be a little more difficult to resolve than your average blocked sink, but it is possible with the right tools and knowledge. We have created a guide that shows you how to unclog a drain so you can do it yourself. 

What causes my outside drain to be blocked?

People usually put things down their drains that shouldn't be there, which causes them to block their drains. The most common cause of blockages in kitchen sink drains are grease, food scraps, oil, and coffee grounds, while soap scum and hair are to blame in bathrooms. Additionally, it would help if you thought about what you're flushing down the toilet. You can easily clog your bathroom with wipes, sanitary products, and too much toilet paper.

You can find how to unblock an outside drain with any of the things listed above. Unfortunately, they're all going down the same pipes, so they'll get stuck in the drain outside your home instead of the inside. Leaves, branches, soil, mud, moss, litter, and other outdoor debris can also block your outside drain.

The best way to prevent your outside drains from getting blocked is to be mindful of what you put down your sinks, shower, and toilet. It's also essential to keep the outside of your property and garden clean and clear of debris like leaves and moss.

We suggest you also purchase a drain unblocker if you haven't already done so. Grates can be attached to your drain openings to stop leaves, litter, and other debris from falling into your drains and causing blockages. 

Common problems with blocked drains

We'll talk about the common drain blockages inside and outside the home. Then, to determine whether the blockage originated within your home or is a bigger problem affecting your shared blocked drains, you can look at some factors.

The first thing you should do is speak with your neighbours and ask them if they are experiencing water drainage problems. If your neighbours are not having any trouble or your inside drain is blocked, but your external drain is working, it is your responsibility alone.

 Blocked drains

Take action as soon as you notice any of the following:

  • External blocked drains

A blockage can be caused by leaves and debris outside the house, coffee grounds, or sanitary items inside the house. You might not be the only responsible party.

  • The outside kitchen drain is clogged.

It is your responsibility to unclog a kitchen that has blocked the outside drain since it is not part of the public sewer system.

  • It smells like a blocked drain outside.

You might discover various items blocking your drains if you investigate further, aside from the rotting smell.

  • Standing water in the outside drain

A blocked outside drain will have standing water in sewer lines and start overflowing.

 Unblocking a sink

We recommend checking your property's pipes before looking at our outside drain unblocker guide. If you are experiencing a problem with your kitchen sink, bathroom or shower draining, try these methods:

  • Plugin the faucet, fill up the sink or bath with hot water and let it drain

  • Plunge the drain with a plunger

  • Add a mixture of baking powder and vinegar, followed by hot water

  • Unbend a wire coat hanger or use a drain snake 

What to do if your drain is clogged?

The situation might seem bleak, but it may not be a complete catastrophe. You can take steps to fix the problem and get your plumbing systems back in working order. Want to know how to unclog an outside drain? Let us explain.

Step 1: Identify the problem

Using whatever method you can, access your outdoor drainage. To do this, you typically need to remove the drain cover. Then, inspect the problem after you have gained access.

How close are the blocked drains to the surface or how far away?

Is it simply gunk, or is it a more difficult job?

Once you have assessed the problem, move on to step two if you believe you can manage the job yourself. But, again, our recommendation would be to avoid tackling the problem yourself if you find it much more challenging than you expected.

Alternatively, you may have clogged gutter pipes, which are easier to clean out while still following the same steps. 

Step 2: Get the Right Tools for the Job

There are a few steps involved in removing an outdoor drain blockage. The most important tool is a drainage rod. They are long, thin, flexible, and often made of steel. You can use them to push through a blockage in your drain and reach deep into the external systems. Don't try unblocking an outside drain without a plunger.

In addition to some protective clothing, you'll need to dig around inside the drain. If the blockage is near the surface, it is best to wear waterproof gloves and long sleeves, as well as protective gear for your mouth and eyes. Spillage can contain nasty sewage bacteria, which can cause illness or infection if you contact them. 

Step 3: Remove any obstacles you can reach

Would it be possible to remove some of the blockages with your arm? Using your drainage rods for simple debris removal is your best chance of shifting the matter, clogging your blocked drains.

The job is awful, but it's worth it.

Grab a bucket and place it near the drain. With your arm and the essential basic tools, remove the debris by digging into the drain. The more you remove, the cleaner and easier it gets. 

Step 4: Remove the blockage

Try to flush out the blockage with your drainage rods.

You should slide the narrow metal through the sludge if you apply pressure. Then move the rods around to break apart the blockage. If you can see the blockage, you will move the drainage rods.

Be sure to twist your drainage rods clockwise when using them. It is possible that the tough blockages can result in the rods becoming unscrewed!

Step 5: Clean up the extra debris

As soon as you have removed the blockage from your outside drain and water flows freely, make sure that the problem doesn't recur. Ensure all debris has been cleared away from the drain using a hose - preferably a pressure hose.

Once you've loosened the remainder of the blockage with your hands or drainage rod, you can use the pressure from your hosepipe to clear the remaining elements. The cleaner your drains are, the longer it will be before you have to repeat this process. 

Step 6: How Do I Unclog a Blocked Outside Drain? Contact a Professional

Drainage problems outside the home tend to be more complex than your typical sink blockage. Even though they are manageable through DIY techniques, these methods are not always practical. We suggest you avoid attempting more powerful techniques if they aren't successful. If you do, an external drainage line may be damaged, and you could cause further damage. Getting your plumbing back to normal is often easy with the aid of a professional.

Step7: Get your plumbing and drainage insurance

What are the benefits of plumbing and drainage insurance?

The most comprehensive policies of smart cover plumbing and drainage insurance:

  • Internal plumbing emergencies

  • Internal drainage system emergencies

  • External water supply pipe blockage, collapse or leaks. (within the boundary of the property)

  • Advise on what actions to take to protect yourself and your home

  • Preventing an emergency causing further loss or damage to your home

Preventing blocked drains

Use drain strainers: These catch food scraps and hair before they enter the drain.

Dispose of grease and oil properly: Never pour them down the drain. Let them cool and solidify, then scrape them into the bin.

Only flush toilet paper: Avoid flushing wipes, sanitary products, and excessive toilet paper.

Keep outdoor drains clear: Regularly remove leaves, branches, and debris from around your drains.

Invest in a drain unblocker: This can help remove minor blockages before they become serious.

Tools required to clear a blocked external drain:

Drainage rods: These long, thin, and flexible metal rods are essential for reaching and breaking up blockages deep within the external drain system.

Plunger: A plunger can help dislodge close-up blockages in the drain.

Waterproof gloves and long sleeves: These are necessary for protecting yourself from sewage bacteria when digging around the drain.

Eye and mouth protection: Wearing safety glasses and a mask is recommended to shield yourself from splashes and debris.

Bucket: This is used to collect any removed debris or water during the cleaning process.

Pressure hose (optional): A pressure hose can be helpful for thoroughly flushing out the drain after the blockage is removed.

Also, provide a 24/7 emergency helpline number, since problems often need to be repaired urgently to prevent further damage.


Your day doesn't have to be ruined by a broken pipe or blocked drain. We are on our way to you to solve this problem. We make your life easier by providing you with plumbing and drainage insurance. With our plumbing & drainage cover on hand, you can rest assured that a solution will be on its way as soon as possible if a problem arises.

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