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How To Clear Blocked Drains - Part 2

Dec 3, 2007
Lifting A Manhole Cover

You have to lift the manhole cover to check the drains, so this is always the first job. It's not east: cast iron manhole covers are heavy, so get some help. Frequently the cover is rusted in its frame. Scrape around the join with a screwdriver then tap the cover gently with some wood - the vibration should release it from its seating.

Special keys are available for lifting covers but if you don't have one, a strong hook or piece of steel bent in a vice will do just as well. Some covers have handles consisting of small bars across indents. In this case, loop several turns for string or wire through the bars then around a stout piece of timber. With someone on either side of the cover use the timber as handles lift, and swing the cover free.

As a last resort, use a garden spade to lever up the cover over a fulcrum made from wood or bricks. The easiest way is to life one end first and support it across the opening on a broom handle or similar. You can then lift the other end onto another support and use them both as rollers to push it clear of the opening.

Some covers are secured by screw bolts, in this is the case soak them in penetrating oil before attempting to undo them. Remove the bolts with a spanner or wrench.

On all manhole covers, a little grease smeared around the frame before replacement will stop future rusting.

Locating Blockages

Your first check is always to see if the trap on the fitting itself is blocked. If your sure the blockage is in the drains, adopt the following procedure. Open the manhole nearest the house. If this is empty, the fault is in the fitting waste pipe, the stack or the gully trap. If only one fitting on a stack gives trouble, the fault is in its own waste pipe. If several do the blockage is in the stack probably low down, towards the chamber.

If the manhole is full of effluent, do not immediately assume that this is where the blockage is. Try if possible to lift all other manholes between there and the main drain in the road - particularly if the drain includes and interceptor which give more trouble than ordinary inspection chambers. It may be that the last one in the line has blocked causing effluent to back up as far as the first.

Work Wear

I would also suggest at this point that wearing good quality workwear well worth it. Clearing blocked drains is a dirty job, so wearing your going out jeans is a no-no. I would suggest something like a pair of Snickers Workwear pants or some other good quality brand such as Jobman or Mascot.

Summary

That is it for this article, however, still to come I will tell how to unblock Inspection Chambers and Interceptors, and as an added bonus get you a walk through on how to clear a blocked gully.
About the Author
Johan Nickson is an expert in Snickers Workwear.
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