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Help Centre: How To Unblock An Outside Drain or Gully

Image of an drain unblocking.

Outside drains and gullies serve an important function within a property. They are responsible for the disposal of waste and other sewerage from the property to a main sewer. But the maintenance of these are often neglected by home owners. The repercussions of this neglect usually show themselves in the form of a blockage or foul smells permeating the area.

In this blog post, we will list various methods you can try yourself to remove a blockagefrom your outside drains or gullies. The best part? You won’t have to spend money on something you could have easily done yourself, the only cost is a bit of time and hard work.


Most rain water gullies and surface drains are fitted with a grate at the top to catch any large clumps of blockage-causing waste. These could range from leaves and dirt-clumps to food waste to insoluble materials like plastic. But sometimes some of these can get through and start to fill up the outside drain with dirt and other rubbish which blocks up the line. If left on its own, these can fill up all the way to the grate and block any access water may have to them. To resolve this, you will have to remove the excess dirt and debris from the grate and the sump to allow the water to flow back into the gully. To do this, you can follow the steps below:

1. Remove the grate from the opening. This shouldn’t be that difficult to remove and will only require a crow bar or something similar to act as a lever to push the grate out. Once you have this out, remove any dirt lodged within the slits.

2. Wearing rubber gloves, remove any excess waste from the sump. You could also use a shovel if you prefer.

3. Once you have removed all visible excess waste, test if water runs freely by putting a hose into the opening and running the water.

4. If the sump slowly fills up and does not run then the opening to the drain line is blocked and will have to be cleaned out.

5. Repeat steps 2-3 until the water flows freely into the drainage system.

6. Replace the grate cover.

Most gully blockages are cleared in this way. However, if the blockage is within the pipework then you will need to use a drain plunger to try and remove the blockage.


If the blockage is within the manhole or pipework then you need to use a drain rod plunger to try and remove this and let the water run freely.

The key to using a drain plunger is to build up air pressure between the plunger and the blockage, pushing the cause of the blockage down the line. Here is a step by step guide on how to use a drain rod plunger:

1. Using a crowbar, gently pry open the manhole cover. Make sure you do not break or damage the manhole framework. Once pried open, lift the lid and prop it against the wall or lay it on the floor.

2. Once opened, do a visual inspection of the manhole. If the manhole is filled up then the blockage is most likely downstream causing the manhole to hold the waste water.

3. This next step may require the use of a mask or some sort of mouth and nose cover depending on the amount of waste water and sewerage held in the manhole. Using the drain rod plunger, locate the channel and follow this to the drain opening. Once found, place the plunger in the hole making sure it is airtight and none of the water can get in.

4. Once placed over the opening, start plunging for about 30 seconds to a minute. Remove the plunger from the opening and see if the water level slowly goes down.

5. If the water level remains the same then repeat the plunging another 4 or 5 times until you see the water lower or flow away down to the pipes.

6. Once all the waste water has been cleared away, carry out a final check by flushing your toilets, running your sink etc. This is to see whether water will flow freely from your toilet or sink down to the manhole and into the drainage pipe work to the main sewer.


If you have tried both methods and the blockage and foul smell are still present then the blockage might be located internally in the drainage pipework. If this is the case you will have to call in a drainage company like Drain 247 to remove the blockage for you. This can be done using a high pressure drain jetter which will force the blockage out in no time.

Contact our friendly team on 0800 612 8038 or email us at info@drain247.co.uk. We will be able to provide you with a free, no obligation quote and can can usually clear any blockages within one hour of arriving.

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