How to Unblock a Drain Pipe Outside Your Property: 5 Simple Methods

If you’re dealing with a clogged external drain, don’t panic! With the right tools and techniques, you can handle the job like a pro. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to identify the cause of the blockage, what tools are needed, and exactly how to unblock a drain pipe outside. From using boiling water, vinegar and baking soda, a bent wire hanger, or using a drain rod, we’ve got you covered.

How do I know if my outside drain is blocked?

Build up of soapy water coming from the drain pipe leading to external drain
Maintaining your external drains will save you a whole lot in the future.

A backed-up external drain pipe can be a real headache, especially when it causes water damage to other areas of your property or even flooding. Before calling a plumber in, there are a few simple things you can do yourself with very little equipment or know-how.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through step-by-step instructions on how to deal with blocked drains outside your home including what tools are necessary for tackling this task, multiple methods of solving it, as well as how to avoid similar issues in the future.

DIY Methods To Clear Blocked Drains: Key Takeaways 

  • Identify the cause of the blockage before attempting to unblock an external drain.
  • You’ll need several tools and materials for the job such as rubber gloves, safety glasses, a plunger, vinegar and baking soda, a bent wire hanger, and a drain rod tool.
  • If DIY steps don’t work or if you encounter repeated blockages, odor issues, or sewage backups, then it could be time to call for expert help.
  • To help prevent future blockages routinely clear out any debris from drains, install metal grates or gutter guards, and avoid flushing non-degradable waste.

How to Unblock a Drain Pipe Outside

Unblocking an outside pipe can sometimes be tricky. But with the right tools and know-how, you can make the process a whole lot quicker and easier. Here’s how to tackle the task!

Identify the Cause of the Blockage

It is essential first to remove the drain cover to try and determine why there is a blockage. Usually, an accumulation of debris like leaves, dirt, and branches is the main perpetrator, however, this could also be down to roots from nearby trees entering the pipes or items that have been inadvertently flushed.

In outdoor plumbing systems leaves are often the culprit for causing blockages.

Gather Your Tools and Materials

To clear a blocked outside pipe, you’ll need several tools and materials which include:

  • Rubber gloves and safety glasses for personal protection against debris and splashing chemicals.
  • A bucket or container to collect any standing water or debris.
  • A plunger for dislodging smaller clogs near the surface.
  • Vinegar and baking soda for the chemical solution method.
  • A bent wire hanger for physically removing debris blocking the inside area in pipes.
  • A drain rod tool (either electric or manual) for reaching deeper obstructions within your pipes.

Remove Any Blockages You Can Reach

If the blockage is close enough to reach, you may be able to remove it manually. Here are a few of the simplest options:

Use Boiling Water

If there’s standing water around your external drain, consider boiling a pot of water before pouring it down so it can clear away any organic matter like soap scum that might be clogging up passages.

Vinegar And Baking Soda

After pouring in boiling water down the drain pour 1/2 cup of baking soda followed by a cup of white vinegar. Leave this mixture undisturbed for about 10-15 minutes then pour in more boiling hot water. Repeat as required.

vinegar and baking soda
Mixing baking soda and vinegar creates a natural, chemical-free solution for clearing blockages in your outdoor pipes.

Use A Bent Wire Hanger

If you can’t find any obstruction by looking inside the opening, you can create a simple tool using a wire coat hanger. Straighten the hanger out and then bend one end to create a small hook that will easily fit into your outside drain pipe. Use this hook tool to pull out any debris that may be causing blockages.

Clear Deeper Obstructions with a Drain Rod

If clogs persist even after trying the DIY steps above, it’s time to try using a drain rod that can break up blockages deeper within the pipes. For manual drain rods, manually insert it into the outdoor drainage system and simultaneously twist it and move it back and forth methodically as necessary until it encounters resistance from an obstruction that’s blocking the flow.

Flushing With Water Pressure

A water pressure hose or even a garden hose can also be used to flush through debris in your outdoor drain pipe, but only if you’re dealing with light blockages close to ground level.

Close up of high pressure water hose nozzle
Before you call a plumber, try this DIY solution for clogged pipes.

Preventing Future Blockages 

Once unblocked ensure future blockages are prevented by making sure external drains are regularly cleared of debris and by installing metal grates or gutter guards over them to prevent large objects from going down in the first place. Also avoid flushing non-degradable waste like baby wipes, sanitary pads, or facial tissues which build up over time leading causing potential blockage issues.

When to Call a Plumber to Unclog Your Outdoor Drains

When your external drain is blocked and stubbornly refusing to clear, it’s time to call the experts. Here are some instances where it’s time to throw your DIY towel in:

Repeated Blockages

If the same area of your drainage system keeps becoming clogged, this could signify an underlying issue that requires the attention of an expert. With the use of cameras and other specialized tools a skilled plumber can help to identify any potential underlying issues such as fractured or collapsed pipes.

No Improvement After DIY Attempts

While taking measures like using boiling water, bent hangers, or vinegar and baking soda can all be useful in resolving minor blockages, a persistently clogged drain may require professional intervention. Plumbers have tools including hydro-jets which can powerfully blast away debris from inside the pipe while causing no damage to the pipes themselves.

Plumber hydro jetting an external drain
Some plumbing issues are best left to the experts.

Foul Odours

If your outdoor drains emit unpleasant odors even after attempting several drain cleaning methods, it’s time for you to seek help from a qualified plumber. Foul smells usually indicate accumulated debris over long periods of time that must be professionally cleaned.

Sewage Backup

A sewage backup is always unhygienic and hazardous. If you observe any wastewater backing up through fixtures or pooling around outdoor drain areas, stop using all water immediately and call an emergency plumber without delay. This could also be indicative of larger issues like problems with septic systems or main sewer lines which require professional attention.

Ready to tackle even the toughest Drain Blockage

Need to unblock an outside drain pipe but lack the know-how of a professional? Follow these steps on how to tackle any obstruction – no matter the size! First, you’ll need to identify what’s causing the clog in the first place and make sure you have all the necessary tools to hand. Obstructions within reach can be cleared out manually, but for deeper blockages you’ll need some further fixes. Boiling water, vinegar-baking soda solutions, bent wire hangers and lastly drain rods come in handy in these cases – just make sure to flush with pressured water to finish. 

To stop future problems from occurring install grates or guards as needed. And if all else fails, don’t forget that professional help is never too far away!

If you found this article helpful, please share on social media or leave us a comment below.

External pipe leading to drain with plastic drain grate over it
Healthy external drainage for peace of mind.

Outside Drain Blockages FAQ

What if there’s standing water?

If you have to deal with standing water first then you’ll need either a plunger or drain snake. But before proceeding make sure you are wearing protective gear like gloves and eyewear. 

With the plunger method, create a tight seal over the clogged opening and then rapidly pump to generate sufficient suction power. A drain rod or snake should do the trick for more stubborn obstructions. Simply insert it into the pipe to break up any buildup that has occurred.

If these methods don’t work, or if there are signs of a more serious plumbing issue such as a backup or leakages, it may be time to call in a professional.

About the author

An accomplished plumber with more than 15 years of experience in the industry, David "Fitz" Fitzgerald began as an apprentice and steadily worked his way up to become a fully licensed and certified master plumber.

With extensive training in all aspects of plumbing. David is well-versed in the installation, repair, and maintenance of plumbing systems, including pipes, fixtures, and appliances, and is able to troubleshoot and solve even the most complex plumbing issues.

He loves to share his wealth of knowledge and looks forward to engaging with the community here on No Hassle Plumbing.

Leave a Comment