(064) 602 6792

Cape Town

(066)126 8306

5 Useful Tips for Unclogging Drains: DYI vs Professional Help

unclogging drains

When it comes to plumbing issues, clogged drains are among the most common problems homeowners face. Whether it’s a slow-draining sink, a backed-up shower, or a toilet that refuses to flush correctly, drain clogs can be a real nuisance.

The question is, when you encounter a clogged drain, should you roll up your sleeves and attempt a DIY fix, or is it time to call in the professionals? In this guide, we’ll explore the art of unclogging drains and weigh the pros and cons of tackling the issue yourself versus seeking professional help.

1. Assessing the Severity of the Clog

Before you decide whether to DIY or call a plumber, it’s crucial to assess the severity of the drain clog. Understanding the nature of the problem will assist you in making a more informed decision.

  1. Minor Clogs: Minor clogs are often caused by hair, soap scum, or food particles. They typically slow down drainage but don’t cause complete blockages. In most cases, you can attempt to resolve these clogs on your own.
  2. Major Clogs: Major clogs are usually more severe and can completely block the drain. These clogs may be caused by foreign objects, excessive grease buildup, or tree root intrusions. Major clogs often require professional intervention.

2. DIY Unclogging Drain

If you’ve assessed the clog and believe it’s a minor issue, you might want to try unclogging the drain yourself. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Gather Your Tools: You’ll need a few tools to tackle the clog. These may include a plunger, a drain snake or auger, a pair of gloves, and a bucket to catch water.
  2. Plunging: For sink and shower drains, a plunger can often do the trick. Ensure there’s enough water in the tub or sink to cover the cup of the plunger. Place the plunger over the drain, create a seal, and push and pull several times vigorously. This can dislodge minor clogs.
  3. Drain Snake or Auger: If plunging doesn’t work, or you’re dealing with a toilet clog, a drain snake or auger can help. Feed the snake down the drain and twist it to break up and remove the clog.
  4. DIY Drain Cleaners: You can try chemical drain cleaners, but use them sparingly. They can be jarring on both pipes and the environment. Always follow the product’s instructions and take safety precautions.
  5. Preventive Measures: Once the clog is cleared, consider preventive measures, such as using drain screens to catch debris, avoiding pouring grease down the drain, and regular maintenance.

3. When to Seek Professional Help

In some cases, it’s evident that a DIY approach won’t be sufficient. Here are some indications that you must call in a professional plumber:

  1. Recurrent Clogs: If the same drain repeatedly clogs, it’s a sign of a deeper issue. A plumber can identify and address the root cause.
  2. Slow-Draining Toilets: A slow-draining toilet could indicate a blockage in the main sewer line. This is a significant issue that requires professional attention.
  3. Foul Odors: Persistent foul odors coming from your drains may indicate a sewer line problem. It’s best to call a plumber to investigate and fix this issue.
  4. Gurgling Drains: If you hear gurgling sounds when you use your sinks or flush the toilet, it can be a sign of a drainage problem that needs professional diagnosis.
  5. DIY Methods Aren’t Working: If you’ve tried DIY methods and the clog persists, it’s time to admit defeat and bring in a professional.

4. Benefits of Professional Drain Unclogging

Seeking professional help for unclogging drains offers several advantages:

  1. Expertise and Equipment: Plumbers have the knowledge and tools to tackle complex clogs and identify underlying issues that a homeowner might miss.
  2. Long-Term Solutions: Professionals provide lasting solutions, not just quick fixes. They can address issues at the source, preventing future clogs.
  3. Preventing Damage: Plumbers can identify and repair damage caused by clogs, such as leaks, corrosion, or pipe breakage.
  4. Safety: Professional plumbers follow safety protocols when handling drain clogs, minimizing the risk of injuries or accidents.
  5. Time and Stress Savings: Bringing in a professional saves you time and the frustration of dealing with persistent clogs.

5. Tips for Finding a Reliable Plumber

When hiring a plumber for unclogging drain or any other plumbing issue, consider the following tips:

  • Check for licensing and insurance: Ensure the plumber is licensed and carries the necessary insurance to protect both you and them in case of accidents or damage.
  • Get recommendations: Ask your friends, neighbors, or family members for recommendations. Reading online reviews can also provide insights into a plumber’s reputation.
  • Request estimates: Get quotes from multiple plumbers to compare prices and services.
  • Ask about warranties: Ask about work-related warranties. A reputable plumber should stand by their services.
  • Clarify the scope of work: Discuss the scope of the job and any potential additional costs or complications.


The art of unclogging drains can be a DIY project for minor clogs, but for more complex issues, it’s best to seek professional help. Understanding the nature of the clog and recognizing when DIY methods won’t suffice is key. 

Professional plumbers have the expertise, tools, and experience to tackle even the most stubborn drain clogs, ensuring your plumbing system runs smoothly and efficiently.

Louw Bros Plumbing: Your Trusted Partner for Comprehensive Plumbing Solutions

With branches in Cape Town, Plettenberg Bay, and Knysna, Louw Bros Plumbing offers a wide range of expert services, from leak detection and geyser installation to drainage maintenance and emergency repairs, ensuring the highest quality and customer satisfaction across South Africa.