An in-depth guide to blocked drains
Blocked drains would have to be the single most inconvenience to a home. Whether it is the kitchen sink or the toilet, a blocked drain has the ability to completely ruin daily routines and common hygiene tasks. Follow this guide to better understand the origins of blocked drains, preventatives and cures.
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Table of Contents
- Common causes of blocked drains
- Signs of a blocked drain
- Tools plumbers use to unblock drains
- Fixes for misalignment or collapsed drains
- General costs and charges
- Preventatives for blocked drains
Common causes of blocked drains
There are typically 5 main reasons why you have a blocked drain. You may find that you only have one of these reasons or in worse cases multiple reasons. Either way, if you have a blocked drain chances are it is due to the following.
Believe it or not but it only takes a hairline crack in the pipe or a slight misalignment for a tree root to find its way in. Once in it grows and eventually blocks the drain.
This is normally excessive toilet paper or an accumulation of objects that shouldn't be flushed. It can also be a result of food scraps making their way down the kitchen sink and blocking the drain.
Misalignment / Breakages
Whether your drain pipes weren't installed correctly or the type of pipe used wasn't designed for underground drainage. This if left untreated can also impact the surrounding fauna and flora.
This can happen due to old age and earth movements but more commonly by having heavy machinery or objects on top of the grass that has drainage under it.
Drains actually rely on gravity to remove the wastewater from the home to the sewer. Over time the soil that is under the pipe can shift due to normal ground movement or due to incorrect installation of the drainage system. Either way, this will require the relaying of pipes as well as creating a gradient for the new pipework to sit on.
Signs of a blocked drain
A blocked drain is a process with warning signs and red flags along the way. Understanding what to look out for can help you to prevent your blocked drain from getting worse and ultimately cost a lot more to fix. Some common warning signs are:
A quick thing to take note of is how long it takes for the sink to empty or toilet water to go down. The longer it takes the more chance you have a blockage.
Noisy or smelly
When a drain is blocked the blockage can start to rot, causing a horrid smell. The pipes can also make a groaning/suction sound as the wastewater struggles to get past the blockage.
A telltale sign of a blocked toilet is the water level changing. If it sits too high or too low chances are you have a blockage. Depending on where the blockage is the water level can be higher or lower than normal.
Tools plumbers use to unblock drains
In this section, we will cover the basics of the tools involved in unblocking your drain. Some of these products are single-use and others are made for multiple uses.
Drain cameras allow you to see inside the pipe to find the actual problem. They can help to identify the source of the blockage as well as check if the blockage is cleared.
Drain snake (auger)
These can damage your drain if not operated correctly. They work by rotating very fast and smashing any blockage or debris into small pieces allowing the drain to flow again.
This works by blasting high-pressure water both in front and behind the head of the jet. This blast helps to dislodge potential blockages and breaks down buildup on the pipe walls.
A plunger works by creating a closed seal over the pipe and when pressed down it forces air into the pipe and when pulled causes a vacuum suction which can help to dislodge the blockage.
Fixes for misalignment or collapsed drains
Sometimes blocked drains are completely out of your control. Improper installation, underground movement and old age are all factors in breakages, misalignment and collapses. When these blocked drains are diagnosed there are two main options that you have.
This is when the inside of a broken pipe is lined with a special resin. Often referred to as no-dig technology or trenchless pipe repair, this is a good alternative to replacing the pipe.
This process is similar to pipe relining, however, is used for smaller sections of the damaged pipe. A new piece of pipelining is inserted inside the damaged area and fixed to the existing pipe. This process can usually be carried out much quicker than traditional excavation and replacement techniques.
General costs of drain clearing and charges
We will give you an upfront price for every job. With that in mind, we recommend being very wary of plumbers that will give a set price over the phone, especially without first having seen the issue.
As an example: A simple plunger to remove a build up of toilet paper will cost significantly less than if your drain was to be completely collapsed. Both cause your drains to be blocked but you couldn't possibly put a price on the latter. Mainly due to there being too many variables such as:
Even though this is just an example, you can see just how quickly the price can be affected.
- Weather - Harder to work in the pouring rain.
- Machine hire - Every company has different prices on machine hire.
- Licenced operator - Different operators has different prices usually per hour.
- Size - If the collapse is long then more pipe needs to be replaced.
- Road closures - Depending where the collapse has happened.
- Traffic controllers - If you need the road closed you legally need traffic controllers.
Preventing blocked drains
The best advice you can ever get to prevent your drains from becoming blocked is "be careful what you put down them". Most people rinse plates off into the sink, flush tissues and wet wipes down the toilet, and kick hair build-up down the shower drain. These things are just some of the foreign bodies that make their way into your drain and eventually clog it up.
Our tips to ensure that you are less likely to have blocked drains and even prevent them are:
- Save cooking oil from pots, pans, and trays in an old coffee jar or can, even an old milk bottle will do the trick. Then you can place that into the bin.
- Coffee grounds should be placed in the bin or in the garden.
- Ensure that you have a drain grate or strainer covering the kitchen sink drain's opening to minimise the number of foreign bodies making their way down your drain unintentionally.
- Carefully pour boiling hot water down the drain regularly.
- Once a fortnight put a handful of baking soda into the drain and then a cup of boiling hot water.
- Also once a fortnight pour 1 cup of vinegar down the drain and let it sit for 30 mins. Once the time is up pour down very hot or boiling water.
Note: When using baking soda and vinegar will cause a chemical reaction on contact. To avoid unnecessary mess when pouring vinegar down your drain after the baking soda ensure that you block the drain so the reaction can only go the other way removing any potential blockages.
Everyday Plumbing your local Sutherland Shire drain specialists
If you are experiencing blocked drains, don't put up with it any longer. Contact us today on 9191 7309 or fill in our online booking form and see how our plumbers can help get your drain cleared today.