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Blocked Drains FYI

An in-depth guide into 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 hygenic tasks. Follow along this guide to better understand the origins of blocked drains, preventatives and cures.

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Common causes of blocked drains

There are typically 5 main reasons as to 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.

Tree Roots

tree roots

Believe it or not but it only takes a hair line 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.

Foreign Objects

foreign objects

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

misalignment-breakage

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.

Pipe Collapse

pipe-collapse

This can happen due to old age and earth movements but more commonly by having heavy machinery or objects on top of grass that has drainage under it.

Soil Settlement

soil-correct
Correct Slope
soil-no
No Slope
soil-negative
Negative Slope

Drains actually rely on gravity to remove the waste water 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 pipe work to sit on.

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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 costing alot more to fix. Some common warning signs are:

slow-draining

Slow drainage

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-smelly

Noisy or smelly

When a drain is blocked all of the blockage starts to rot causing a horrid smell. The pipes can also make a groaning / suction sound as they struggle to get past the blockage.

water-levels

Water levels

A tell tale sign of a blocked toilet is the water level. If it sits too high or too low chances are you have a blockage. Depending on where the blockage is determines if the level is high or low.

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Tools plumbers use to unblock drains

In this section we will try to cover the basics of the tools involved in unblocking your drain. Some of these products are a single use and others are made for multiple uses.

camera

Drain camera

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.

auger

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.

water-jetter

Water Jetter

This works by blasting high pressure water both infront and behind the head of the jet. This blast helps to dislodge potential blockages and breaks down build up on the pipe walls.

plunger

Plunger

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.

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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 is two main options that you have.

relining

Relining

This is when the inside of a broken pipe is lined with a special resin. Often referred to as no dig technology or tenchless pipe repair, it is a good alternative than replacing the pipe.

pipe-repair

Pipe Patching

This requires digging down to the pipe and removing the damaged section of pipe. The new piece of pipe is then inserted and fixed to the existing pipe. This process can take up to a week to complete.

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General costs and charges

We will always try our best to give you upfront pricing for every job. However this isn't always possible. Due to every drain blockage being so vastly different from the last, you couldn't possibly get given a set price. With that in mind we recommend to be 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:
  • 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.
Even though this is just an example, you can see just how quickly the price can be affected.
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Preventatives for 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 rince plates off into the sink, flush tissues and wet wipes down the toilet and kick hair build up around the drain of the shower into the 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 insure that you are less likely to have blocked drains and even prevent it are:

  • Save oil from pots, pans and trays into 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 if not disolved or wiped off the bench should be placed into the bin or in the garden.
  • Ensure that you have a drain grate or strainer covering the drains opening to minimise foreign bodies from making their way down your drain unintentionally.
  • Pour hot water down the drain after every use.
  • Once a fortnight put a handfull of baking soda into the drain and then a cup of 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. This reaction is the equivelent to mentos in a coke bottle. 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.
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Everyday Plumbing

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 your home get back to normal.

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