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Clogged the drains with water beads?

Water absorbing Orbeez can cause havoc if put down sinks and toilets

If you have young children you will no doubt be aware of the Orbeez phenomenon. Orbeez, or other water absorbing beads, are tiny little polymer beads that swell to 150 times their original size when placed in water. They’re great fun to pay with in water troughs, in foot spas and even used decoratively in glass vases but can be a major problem if put down the sink or toilet in their original form.

As you can imagine, these tiny beads that start out the size of the head of a match when dry will swell up to the size of a large marble once submerged in water and this is not good to have in your drains and pipes as it will cause a significant blockage.

This is something that many parents are discovering to their cost when their little darlings tip them down the sink or flush them down the toilet!

So, what can you do? Obviously you can’t try and flush them through with water as they will absorb whatever liquid you pour down, clogging the pipes up further. Luckily there are a couple of things you can try:

  • Unblock a sink by taking the pipes underneath the sink apart. These will often be push fittings so will come apart quite easily. Place a bowl or bucket underneath to catch any water that will come out and pull the S bend apart, manually removing all the beads that are trapped there. If beads have worked their way further round the pipes you may need to use the method described below
  • The other option is to put something down the pipes that will dissolve the beads or make them relinquish the water they have absorbed. Salt will help to draw the liquid out and substances like bleach or a combination of vinegar and bicarbonate of soda will cause a chemical reaction to dissolve them (this is generally a good sink cleaner that you can use any time). You may need some patience and keep reapplying these as it dissolves a layer at a time

What if these don’t work? If these DIY methods don’t do the trick then the next step is to get a plumber in to unblock the pipes properly. If the blockage is significant and it’s unclear where exactly it is then it may even be necessary to send a camera down and check the whole pipe using CCTV. See more details here.

If you experience something like this, and can’t resolve it yourself then please give us a call and we can help you. Call 0800 032 6478 or complete the form to the right.

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