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       Blocked bath or basin

A completely blocked bath or basin

YOU WILL NEED Sink plunger, damp cloth, chemical drain cleaner, rubber gloves. Possibly: bucket, screwdriver, expanding curtain wire or sink auger, adjustable spanner, length of wood.

Press a damp cloth firmly against the overflow. Then place the rubber cup of the sink plunger over the plug춉ole and press down firmly and sharply with the handle four or five times. Repeat a few times until the water flows away.

Once the blockage is cleared, clean the waste pipe thor춐ughly with a chemical drain cleaner (see above).

CLEANING THE TRAP If the water does not run out, the pipe or trap may be blocked by an object such as a hairclip.

To get to the waste pipe, unscrew and remove the side panel of the bath or the basin pedestal. Basins are not supported by the pedestal but by the plumbing pipes and a wall bracket. The bath panel is usually held in place with dome-head screws which have caps that are removed to reveal the screw slot.

If you have been using a chemical cleaner to clear a partially blocked waste, pour two or three pints of water down the plughole before attempting to remove the trap and wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

The waste outlet pipe may have either a conventional U-bend made of brass or plastic, or a plastic bottle trap. To undo the access nut of an old U-bend trap with a span춏er, steady the joint with a piece of wood held in the bend to prevent the pipe buckling as you turn the spanner.

To remove a plastic trap place a bucket beneath the trap and unscrew it by hand. Clean and replace it.

CLEANING THE PIPE If the trap proved to be clear, examine the waste pipe for a possible blockage. Use a sink auger or expanding curtain wire to probe the pipe and locate and then dislodge the obstruction.

Replace the trap and test the system. Then replace the pedestal or side panel and clean the pipes with a chemical drain cleaner (see A partly blocked bath or basin). Protect your hands when using a chemical cleaner.

Finally, if the drain remains blocked, call a plumber.

Finding a plumber

There is a lot to be said for listening to the personal recommendations of friends or relatives. Remember, though, that a tradesman who might be perfectly competent to carry out a simple job like renewing a tap may be less competent with a more complex task.

If you have to rely on advertisements or Yellow Pages look for plumbers with A1P or MIP (Associate or Member of the Institute of Plumbing) or RP (a plumber registered by the Institute of Plumbing) after their names.

Plumbers who also carry out gas central heating installation have to be CORGI registered and this implies an expertise in all plumbing fields.


Acrylic baths are easily L damaged by extreme heat, and the marks cannot be removed. So never rest a lighted cigarette on the bath rim, and take great care if you are using a blow torch in the bathroom to do plumbing work.

A sink auger

A flexible spiral of wire, up to 4.6 m (15 ft) long, also called a sink dearer. Use it to dislodge blockages from pipework by inserting it into the waste pipe and rotating the handle. Sink augers can be hired by the day.


A musty smell, or liny black flies, in the bathroom are likely to come from the basin overflow. Soapy water builds up a deposit in the overflow which may smell unpleasant as it dries. Wearing rubber gloves, spoon drain cleaner into the overflow, then pour in boiling wafer. After about ten minutes, push a wire bottle brush down the overflow, and vigorously clean the interior. Rinse out afterwards.

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