Want to enjoy the weather outside from the comfort of your home? You can relax and lounge on a balcony!
However, it’s probably a clogged drain behind the funky smell if you can’t stand a minute in yours.
So, what do you want to hear first — good or bad news?
Let’s go with the former as it will soften up the blow from the latter — unclogging your balcony’s drain is pretty straightforward, but you will need to get your hands dirty.
You can try plenty of DIY methods if the clog is just a ball of gunk made up of dirt.
There’s one thing you need to know, though. If your drain line is shared, no amount of cleaning the drain will clear the block.
In this case, you will have to call a professional to assess your drain to ensure the system is indeed shared with your neighbor.
You can then contact your local water company to fix the issue. Keep in mind that houses built before 1970 had shared drains and combined systems.
Separating the pipes will be costly and time-consuming. Only a professional will be able to tell you what the best solution is for this.
Hence, a home inspection is necessary before buying a house.
Shared and connected pipes can overwhelm the drain system and cause frequent blockages that might flood your house.
Now, let’s dive deep into your balcony’s drain:
Identifying the Problem
When dealing with a clogged balcony drain, the first step is to identify the problem. There are several signs that can indicate a clog in the drain, including:
- Water pooling on the balcony
- Slow draining water
- Unpleasant smells coming from the drain
If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to act quickly to prevent further damage to your balcony and home.
The most common cause of clogs in balcony drains is a buildup of debris such as dirt, leaves, and other outdoor materials.
Additionally, hair, soap scum, and other substances can accumulate in the drain over time, leading to a clog.
To identify the location of the clog, we recommend pouring water down the drain and observing how quickly it drains.
If the water drains slowly or not at all, this is a sign that there is a clog somewhere in the drain.
Another method to identify the problem is to use a flashlight to look down the drain and see if you can spot any visible debris or buildup.
If you can’t see anything, it may be necessary to use a plumbing snake or other tool to remove the clog.
It’s important to note that attempting to remove a clog without the proper tools and experience can lead to further damage to your plumbing system.
If you’re unsure about how to proceed, it’s best to call a professional plumber to handle the issue.
Rainwater vs. Wastewater
Most homeowners use these two words interchangeably. However, there’s a huge difference between them. Rainwater refers to the water that collects on your roof and balcony.
It flows down into a drain system and to the local treatment plant, where it is filtered for human consumption.
On the other hand, wastewater is the water that flows from your kitchen sink, bathrooms, washing machine, and dishwashers into the sewage system.
Hence, rainwater and wastewater do not flow into the same place.
Wastewater is also treated until it is safe for use. It is then released into beaches or rivers.
It is not collected for human consumption because the process it goes through introduces various chemicals into it, posing a threat to all living beings.
As for rainwater, it is cleaned through a mesh that sifts out debris. The water is then clarified using chemicals and is finally filtered to remove chemicals.
Adding chlorine ensures no bacteria are present in the water, making it completely safe for humans.
Now that you know what rainwater is, let’s look at how it clogs your balcony:
Common Issues Behind a Blocked Drain
The most common causes of an indoor blocked drain are toilet paper, sanitary napkins, oil, and food leftovers.
The list of possible issues for your outdoor drain is short and includes leaves, dirt, and dead rodents.
As said earlier, if your rainwater drain and wastewater drain are connected, you must call a professional to clear the clog.
If the drains are separate, you can use the following DIY methods:
Hot Water and Detergent / Baking Soda and Vinegar
Hot water and any chemical-free cleaner can help you loosen up a clog and break through the barrier.
If the clog does not clear with detergent, use baking soda and vinegar to create a hot reaction that will soften the gunk.
Here’s how to use this DIY method:
Hot Water and Detergent
- Boil water and pour it down the drain slowly
- Boil water again and add detergent to it this time
- Pour it down the drain slowly and wait for 10 minutes
- Boil water a third time and flush the drain
Hot Water, Baking Soda, and Vinegar
- Pack the drain with as much baking soda as you can
- Depending on the size of your drain, pour enough vinegar into it until you hear a fizzing sound
- Wait for 15 minutes for the reaction to work its magic
- Boil water and pour it down the drain slowly
Use a Wire Hanger
If the above two DIY methods didn’t clear the drain, you might need to use a little hand power to dislodge the clog.
By now, the baking soda and vinegar would have softened up the gunk. Now, all you need to do is give a push.
You don’t need a professional tool for this task.
- Straighten a wire hanger and curve it from the end to form a hook
- Place a bucket by your side
- Push the hook side down into the drain and twist it around
- Drag the hanger out and throw the gunk into the bucket
- In the next go, instead of dragging the hanger out, move it up and down fast to clean the blockage
- Boil water and pour it down the drain slowly
Use a Rubber Drain Bladder
- Cost: $16
A rubber drain bladder is a small blow bag that can be attached to the hose. When the water flows through the hose, it collects in the blow bag, which expands to fit into the pipe.
As a result, when you try to flush the drain with high pressure, there’s no water backup.
Use a Drain Rod
- Cost: $15
A drain rod is made of polypropylene, which is a flexible yet thermoplastic polymer.
It remains unaffected even when it comes in contact with chemicals present in the drain system.
Using a drain is manual work and requires you to get down and dirty with the drain. It works the same as an auger but is a cheap way to clean the balcony drain yourself.
Here’s how to use this tool:
Things You Need
- Protective clothing (waterproof coveralls and goggles)
- Rubber gloves
- Face mask
- Drain rod
- Bucket and bin bags
- Pressure hose
- Use a screwdriver to remove the drain cover
- Wear protective clothing and accessories
- Get down on your knees and insert your hand into the drain. Remove as much gunk as your hand can grab and deposit it into the bucket
- Stand and insert the drain rod into the drain
- Push as hard as you can and move it around
- Keep plunging until it takes less effort to move it
- Blast the drain with water using a pressure hose
A hydro-jet uses high water pressure to clear out the drainpipe. It not only dislodges the gunk and flushes it down but also pulls it back to prevent another blockage down the drainpipe.
A hydro-jet comes with various nozzles and even cleans the pipe’s inner surface.
Let’s say that you are dealing with a tough clog. The DIY methods, drain rods, and drain bladders are useless here. However, a hydro-jet can clear the clog.
If it does not, your final option is to use a drain machine. A drain machine cuts the clog with a specialty blade, whereas a hydro-jet flushes the drain with high water pressure.
Sometimes, a clog consists of more than debris and leaves. A small crack in the pipe gives the roots room to find their way in.
The roots use the little water that trickles into the drain to grow and consume more space in the pipe, eventually causing a tough blockage.
This is where the drain machine comes in. It has various-sized cutters, which you can attach to its pipe depending on the size of the pipe and blockage.
Refrain from using a big blade to avoid accidentally damaging the drainpipe. Once the block is cleared, flush the pipe with water to remove any remnants.
Prevent Future Clogging
Clearing a clog is hard work, not to mention the nasty things you get up close and personal with. To prevent future clogs, here’s what you should do:
Install a mesh screen under the drain cover. Make sure it is fine enough (3 inches in thickness) to stop debris and leaves from entering the drain but not too thin so that it restricts the flow of water.
Use the same mesh on the roof to ensure a block is not caused by any wastewater drain site.
In some cases, the outside drain is blocked due to yard topography and soil permeability. Water flows by gravity and ends up at the lower point.
A drain system installed high can lead to standing water after a heavy rain spell.
To fix this issue, you might have to install an additional drain to direct the water to the right place.
In conclusion, unclogging your balcony drain is simple if it is not connected to the sewage water drain system. Using DIY cleaning methods might clear the clog.
However, if they aren’t helpful, you can rent a drain machine or a hydro jet to get the job done.
While rainwater backing up on your balcony is not harmful, it can create an unsafe environment full of bacteria.
Moreover, if you have children and pets, you can bet they will be splashing in the puddles like it’s a water park. So, grab the cleaning tools now and get to work!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to unblock an outside drain filled with soil?
If your outside drain is clogged with soil, it’s important to remove as much of the soil as possible before attempting to unclog the drain.
You can use a small shovel or trowel to scoop out the soil. Once you’ve removed as much soil as possible, you can try using a drain snake to break up the clog and clear the drain.
How to dissolve mud in a drain?
If your drain is clogged with mud, you can try pouring boiling water down the drain to soften the mud and help it flow through the pipes.
You can also try using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to break up the clog. To do this, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar.
Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then flush the drain with hot water.
How to unblock a sewage drain outside?
If you have a sewage drain that’s clogged outside, it’s important to call a professional plumber to handle the job.
Attempting to unclog a sewage drain on your own can be dangerous and may cause further damage to your plumbing system.
Best product for unblocking outside drains?
There are many products on the market that claim to be effective at unblocking outside drains.
However, it’s important to choose a product that is safe for your plumbing system and the environment. We recommend using a natural drain cleaner that is free from harsh chemicals and toxins.
What can I put down an outside drain to unblock it?
You can try using a mixture of baking soda and vinegar to unblock an outside drain. To do this, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar.
Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then flush the drain with hot water. You can also try using a drain snake to break up the clog and clear the drain.
How to clear a blocked gully drain?
To clear a blocked gully drain, you can try using a drain snake to break up the clog and clear the drain.
You can also try pouring boiling water down the drain to soften the clog and help it flow through the pipes. If these methods don’t work, it’s important to call a professional plumber to handle the job.