Clogged drains are nasty, and there is no way you can sugar-coat the situation. A clogged drain pipe is not only an inconvenience but is also downright disgusting; it’s a bacteria swarming and odour inducing problem that no one wants to have or deal with. Having a blocked drain is a nuisance every owner of a home will experience at least once during their lifetime, and it’s not something you want to leave because there’s a good chance it will bring along health issues too.
9 most common causes of a blocked drain
There is nothing our plumbers haven’t seen in blocked drain, from foreign objects that have accidentally been dropped down the drain, to the build-up of hair, grease and other gunk. Blocked drains can easily be avoided if you understand how to guard against it, but sometimes using a drain cleaner won’t cut it so here’s what you need to know to avoid the problem.
- Plants and Dirt
- Grease build-up
- Heavy rain and storms
- Broken pipes
- Poor water flow
- Bad pip installation
- Foreign objects
Blocked drains from hair
As a plumbing service, it’s not uncommon for us to see these issues daily. Most times it’s a relatively easy task of using a clogged drain home remedy such as simply removing the hair, problems start to form when it’s not cleared up straight away. With hair falling off the body into the shower or while getting ready over the sink in the bathroom, it is one of the most common causes of a blocked drain.
You can prevent a blocked drain caused by hair by removing a small amount of hair out with gloved hands to avoid it getting worse over time. To remove hair from your drain before it becomes clogged, cleaning devices such as drain spiders can be used. However, it’s essential to be mindful of what you use, because some tools and cheap hair removal chemicals, make the issue more problematic. It’s imperative to remove the hair when you see it to avoid a clogged drain.
Blocked drains from plants and dirt
Water drains are susceptible to natural debris like trees, shrubs, dirt and leaves. Regularly maintaining and keeping your outdoor area looking great is essential to the productivity of your water drains and pipes. Leaves and roots from trees are notorious for growing underneath in search of water so will usually head straight for your drains.
To prevent plants, leaves and dirt causing a blocked drain, regular upkeep of your outdoor area to keep it from fallen leaves and debris are essential. If the debris and leaves are left long enough, it will cause a blocked drain and require the assistance of a plumber who specialises in clogged drain pipes. Other prevention methods include keeping your trees well-watered, so they aren’t drawn drains looking for moisture. Avoid plants that clog drains where possible, including; oak trees, willow trees, magnolias, palm trees, gum trees and boxwood shrubs.
Tree roots can be a significant issue and create cracks to the drainpipes beneath your home – causing blockages and leaks. Specialist pipe relining equipment can be used by a plumber to clear the blockage and provide long-term structural repair.
Blocked drains from grease build-up
Oily substances will build-up overtime in the kitchen sink, causing a blocked drain should it not be adequately treated. Blocked drains and pipes from greasy and fatty substances are not uncommon and can be challenging to clear out. Repair isn’t simple because the greasy substances eventually build up to a point where no liquid can pass through because of residue sticking to the inside of the pipes. It is important to note that to fix this problem, you would need a professional plumber.
To prevent greasy build-up, avoid washing fatty ingredients down the drain as much as possible. To prevent this situation ever from happening, start collecting glass jars from food and spreads you purchase, and pour oil and grease into them and discard with your garbage.
Blocked drain from toiletries
Nappies and wipes are two of the biggest causes of clogged drain pipes because consumers are flushing them down the toilet. More people are in the habit of disposing toiletry items into the toilet, and after immersed into the water, they enlarge when taking on moisture which blocks access to water drains and pipes. When they build up the clog the whole system – check out this ‘fatberg‘.
The disposal of toiletries is often done in a way that is disrespectful to the environment and is a significant cause of a clogged drainpipe. At home, toiletries should be disposed of into rubbish bins, just as people should make use of the designated sanitary bins when using public changing rooms and toilets. If your drain has already been affected by the misuse of disposal methods, it is essential to contact your qualified local plumber to repair your blocked drain. Measures should then be taken for these disposal actions not to be repeated.
Blocked drains from heavy rain and storms
During the wet seasons, flooding of drains will occur because of heavy rainfall. Drains aren’t designed to withhold the impact of this type of weather, which causes the build-up of debris. When gutters and down-pipes overflow with rainwater, there is a good chance you have a blocked drain, and it needs clearing out.
To avoid this issue during the wet season, preparing your drains by cleaning leaves which will cause significant blockages. Usually, a plumber will be required to unclog blockages and remove wastewater caused by heavy rain and storms. Contacting your local plumber sooner will help prevent further build-up and potential flooding of your home and yard.
Blocked drains from broken pipes
A common issue is water pipes breaking due to tree roots and general wear and tear. Compared to intact pipes, fractured pipes are susceptible to blockages. Given the lack of visibility of pipes, this is hard to diagnose the issue, and an even more significant issue is the lack of space to inspect the compromised pipes adequately.
If you believe that you have had fractured pipes, you must contact your qualified plumber so they can use professional leak detection equipment to check the pipes. The plumber will also check your home for any water staining on the ceiling, which is a leading problem from broken pipes. To begin the diagnosis, the water flow valve will need to be shut off, a pipe repair clamp applies and have the damaged section replaced.
Poor water flow
When your taps are only tricking small amounts of water instead of the gushing flow you are used to; there is either a low water pressure or flow issue. While not always in the water pipes, it is possible it’s a sign of sediment build-up. When water flows through your pipes, it carries dissolved minerals that deposit on metal surfaces which in turn clogs shower heads or taps and reduces water pressure.
The best drain cleaner solution to this issue is to clean shower heads in an overnight vinegar solution overnight to remove deposits and sediments. If this isn’t successful, you will require the assistance of your local professional plumber and drain cleaner professional.
Bad drainpipe installation
A clogged drain pipe can be a costly undertaking if your pipes have been installed poorly. While installing your pipes can save you money, it isn’t ideal and goes largely unrecommended. Incorrectly installed pipes can lead to issues including incorrect water flow and fractured pipes.
A licensed plumber must always install your drain pipes. Plumbers are specialised in this field and understand how to ensure everything is laid both underground and in your walls correctly so that everything flows and blockages are reduced. If you already have installed pipes and are experiencing issues, have a plumber inspect the pipes and give you recommendations for a healthier drainage system.
Blocked drains from foreign objects
Whether it’s children’s toys, food build-up, soap or sanitary items, the foreign object can quickly cause blockages. There is an array of materials that shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet or drain, whether intentional or not – the list is endless.
Avoidance is the key to keeping healthy unblocked drains, which means where possible, try and ensure your children don’t flush anything down the toilet other than toilet paper. Dispose of food scraps and waster into your garbage or compost bin, and be wary of what might accidentally be dropped down your sink. While we understand that sometimes things do go down the drain and you cannot always have eyes on your children, the best way to avoid a blocked drain is by being mindful of what you’re disposing of and where.
Chris served several years in the Australian Defence Force and since leaving went on to complete his mature age apprenticeship in plumbing and having been in the industry for many years, has gained a wealth of knowledge in the plumbing industry.