Blocked drains are a complete headache to deal with. The drains in our homes usually function unseen each day. They ensure that wastewater leaves our property and enters the main sewer without any problem. However, when there is a blockage in your drainage, either in your home pipes or the main sewer pipes, the draining of wastewater is reduced or stops. This problem can then result in flooding in your bathroom or any area where the drain is blocked. It can also let out an unpleasant and foul smell that may be hazardous for your health.
Blocked drains are common in homes and businesses. They can also cause serious damage to property. Pooling water can damage the floors, walls, furnishings, and ceilings. Water damage can further cause mould or mildew growth which are both difficult to get rid of and can be harmful to your health and your family’s.
There are signs that you have to be aware of that tells you that you have a blocked drain. These include slow drainage of showers, toilets, sinks and baths, no drainage at all, gurgling noises, backing up of wastewater into showers or baths and the smell of sewage from the drains.
Causes of Blocked Drains
But what actually causes blocked drains? Drains were designed to carry wastewater out of the house, they were not, however, designed to deal with other materials. Various solid, non-degradable items that find their way into the drain pipe system, can build up and cause a blockage or a blocked drain.
Products like sanitary items, condoms, wipes, fats and oils, tree roots, leaves and other debris can cause a drain to be clogged or blocked. Feminine hygiene items take a long time to break down and are not designed to be flushed down the toilet even if their labels say that they are flushable. Therefore, they have to be disposed in a rubbish bin and not into the toilet drain.
Condoms also take many years before they can break down and should not be flushed down the toilet. Wipes don’t break down easily as well and can cause a blocked drain. Some manufacturers label their wipes as degradable and flushable, but they are actually not. They can really block the toilet if flush them in it. They should be disposed of in the rubbish bin to keep the toilet block-free.
The build-up of fats and oils in the drain lines can cause serious blockages that are very difficult to remove. Oils and fats harden inside drain pipes once they have cooled down and solidify. The solidified oil and fat then cause blockage on the drain pipes. Therefore, oils and fats should not be poured down the drain to prevent clogging.
When drain pipes are damaged by tree roots, they crush the pipes and might even grow inside them and prevent wastewater from draining or escaping. Avoid planting trees near your drainage system to prevent this from happening.
Leaves and other kinds of debris can also cause blockages to the drains, especially in autumn. We recommend that you remove leaves and other debris caught in your drains to prevent clogging the drain pipes that go to the main sewer. It is good to clean the gutters regularly, especially after a storm. Keeping the gutters clean will help them do their job properly and effectively, which is to drain waste water away from your property. If you find it difficult to clear the gutters on your own, you have the option of hiring a tradie to handle the task for you.
Hair is also a major cause of blocked drains. Humans lose about 100 hairs each day and many of them come off in the shower. When you wash your hair, strands fall out and go down the drain with the water. If several people use the same shower, a hair build up is likely to happen in your pipes and can cause a blockage. You can, however, prevent it from going down the drain. Put a drain catcher to catch the hair that accumulates and dispose of in the rubbish properly.
Some foreign objects like your toddler’s toys and other items sometimes find their way down the drains and can likely block them. Sometimes you also run the risk of cracking the drain line and cause more damage if a pipe leaks. The only thing that you should flush down the toilet is urine, fecal matter and toilet paper to prevent serious toilet drain blockage problems.
Indications of Blocked Drains
Blockages take a while to build up and become a complete headache. Nevertheless, once they start to build up there are several indications that emerge. By being aware of the indications of blocked drains, you have a chance to address this issue before it gets worse. Thereby, allowing you to avoid stress and save money.
Gurgling sound is probably the first symptom of a blocked drain. You will commonly notice this symptom when you run water down the kitchen sink or whenever you flush your toilet. The gurgling sound is caused by the air, which is trapped in the drain line that is pushed up through the system when you run water into it. This usually occurs along with the other indications of blocked drains.
Foul or bad odor is one of the indications of blocked drains that you should look out for. Once a blockage starts to form inside the drain line, it will prevent the smooth passage of organic materials such as food scraps, oil, and grease. After a considerable period of time, the food scraps will rot and combine with fats, oil, and grease, thereby allowing the proliferation of bad bacteria.
The process of decomposition will emit a foul stench, which is often what you will smell coming out of your drain. In addition, if you try running water down your drain, you will also notice that the odor will get much worse. This is because doing so will only aggravate the bacteria.
Another indication of blocked drains is that the water starts to drain slowly. Once there is a considerable accumulation of blockage, it prevents water from flowing freely into the drain line. Thus, making the water drain slowly from the sink or toilet drain. Therefore, once you notice that water is starting to abnormally pile up in your drain, then it is high time you look for ways to unclog the blockages.
To avoid these symptoms from manifesting, it is best to do routine cleaning of your drain line. However, if you have failed to do routine cleaning for more than a year, you need to call in a licensed plumber to check out the condition of your plumbing.
Preventing Blocked Drains
While blocked drains are almost inevitable, there are ways that you can do to prevent them from happening much sooner or even cause more damage to your drain lines. One way is by making sure that you are not throwing grease, fats, oil, foods scraps and other materials except wastewater into your sink or drain. If you can, make sure to scrape off organic materials from your dishes before washing them and throw all the scraps into a separate thrash bin.
However, there are just times when you will throw organic materials into the sink unconsciously. This may just be due to the fact that it has been a routine. So, as an added protection for your sink and drains, it will be best to use sink and drains strainers. These are either made of metal, mesh, or silicone sieves that you can place over the plugholes of your drains.
What these sink strainers do is to let water pass through it but prevent larger items from passing through. It is also best to bear in mind that these strainers can only prevent larger items from getting into the pipelines, but they don’t work on fats, oil, and grease which are in liquid form. If you accidentally poured oil and grease into your drain or sink, or if you have been doing so for a long time, there are some efficient ways to get rid of them.
Maintaining the drain lines is one of the most effective ways to make sure you get rid of any blockage that might be building within the lines and preventing clogged drains. First off, if you could, make sure that there are no trees that is growing near where your drain lines are buried. Tree roots generally look for water and your home’s drainpipes are among the sources. While tree roots may not penetrate the pipes immediately, over time they will. And once they do, these roots as well as the tree are both hard to remove.
Another way of maintaining the drains and preventing blockages is by cleaning the drains regularly. For this, you can use eco-friendly solutions such as baking soda, vinegar, and lemon.
You can also try running hot water through your drain line for a few minutes to remove the grease, oil, and fats that are sticking to the inner wall of your drainpipes.
You may also try using commercial eco-friendly drain cleaning solutions. These drain cleaners are known to use active bacteria that will eat away the blockages forming in your drain line. Lay off from using chemicals such as hydrochloric or muriatic acid. These chemicals are highly corrosive and should only be used if you have clogged drain. Using them for maintenance could damage your drain line instead.
Nevertheless, if you have failed to maintain your home’s plumbing system and have started to experience blocked drains, blocked toilets or blocked sinks, then it is high time you call in a professional to deal with the problem.
Calling in a Blocked Drains Specialist
Every household is responsible for blocked drains that occur inside a homeowner’s property. A property owner is responsible for fixing any blocked drain problems inside his or her property. However, if the problem is a blockage in the main sewer pipe, the local water and sewage company is responsible for fixing the problem.
If you experience a blocked drain in your premises, it is best to hire a plumber to address the issue or problem. You can also tackle the problem on your own if you feel confident and know exactly how to fix it. Unblocking the drain on your own can save you money but it has to be done properly to really fix the problem.
Some techniques used to remove clogs or blockages from drains include the use of baking soda and vinegar, the use of drain unblocking chemicals, and the use of hoses and rods.
The use of baking soda and vinegar is a powerful combination of eco-friendly materials that can remove blockages from drains. With the combination of these two kitchen ingredients and a plumber, your simple blocked drains can be unclogged. The use of unblocking chemicals can remove stubborn blockages but are not very much recommended because harsh chemicals can harm the environment and are not eco-friendly.
Drain rods, with a powerful water hose and plunger, can help you tackle blockages in your property. However, you might need to lift the manhole cover in your yard to find where the blockage is. Rods should be used clockwise. If done otherwise, you are at risk of unscrewing and making the blockage worse.
However, there are times when blockages can be quite hard to completely get rid of. Sometimes, they occur in a weekly or daily basis, which is highly inconvenient and stressful. In these situations, it is best to call a licensed plumber to deal with this problem since most of the time, blocked drains are symptoms of a more serious plumbing problem.
Helpful details for a Blocked Drain and Emergency Plumber situation: