Fixing Blocked Drains In A Hurry

Most waste water runs into a gulley with a trap which can be lifted out. If this is cleared frequently it is unlikely that the drain can become blocked from that source. Lavatory pans connect direct to the drains. If a lavatory does not empty, first try freeing it with a plunger in the same way as described for a sink. All drainage systems have manholes over collecting channels, with the one nearest the house being at the highest point. This is the first one to examine if there is a blockage.

If there is liquid in the first manhole, the blockage is further on. If it is clear, the blockage is between it and the house. Start clearing from the manhole without liquid. Superficial clearing can be done with a rod, such as a length of cane, but for more than this a set of drain-clearing rods should be hired. They are flexible and have screwed joints, so that a considerable length can be built up. A cork-screw head or a plunger can be fitted at the end. Block the outlet at a manhole, so that whatever is removed from one pipe cannot go on through another.

Use the corkscrew end to get into the obstruction and pull it out, scooping out the rubbish as it comes through. Follow with the plunger end and run water through to check clearance. While you have the rods, clear any other drains running into the manhole. Poke away dirt and grease from around the manhole rim and clean the cover. Put a small amount of grease around the rim to trap smells. Chisel or a chopping knife, which is a straight-bladed knife with a thick back for hammering. There will be sprigs (headless nails) which held the glass in a wooden frame. Pull them out with pincers. In a metal frame there will be spring clips to remove. Make sure all old putty is cut out and the rebates are level and clean.

Have the glass cut so that it is an easy fit. It should not have to be forced in. Buy the glass of the same thickness as that removed, but if this is not known, most house windows can be 3 mm or 4 mm. Putty will soon become denatured and fall out if put on to bare wood. Paint the rebate, using an oil paint for wood or an aluminium-based paint on metal.

If you need putty for metal frames, ask for metal-casement putty, as ordinary putty does not bond to metal. Mould the putty in your hands until it becomes pliable and you cannot feel any lumps. It should be possible to roll it smoothly into long cylinders. Press the putty into the rebates all round, judging a sufficient thickness to bed the glass in,

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