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What are the common causes of blocked drains?

So, your household has a blocked drain. A nasty, annoying and frustrating blocked drain that is causing more than a little disruption too everyone, but you just can’t figure it out. Why is it blocked? What blocked it? Is it an easy fix? You don’t think any of the kids have ‘accidentally’ put anything down there (well they are claiming they haven’t) and you had a plumber out not that long ago to check everything out…. So what could it be?

Blocked Drain

Causes of blocked drains


Hair. This is a very common one, and people get very surprised when you tell them how much hair actually builds up in a drain. It may seem delicate on its own, but once it starts to build up it can become a pretty awful drain obstruction. Just think, your family washes their hair in the shower, your wife shaves her legs, you shave your beard and wash it down the sink… and all of a sudden you have a lot of hair in one smelly blocked drain. Hair clogs are particularly difficult, as they grab onto the walls of the pipes as well as get attached to grease and fat and build up slowly. They can also get a nasty odour pretty quickly.

Grease and fat

One of the major causes of blocked drains, but one of the easiest to prevent, is grease and fat. Grease and fat come from soaps and food residue that is washed down the drain, which then solidifies and collects around the pipe walls. This can be tricky to remove, so making sure you run hot water down your drain regularly helps prevent this.

Trees and leaves

Tree roots can crack pipes, as well as causing blockages if left to flourish for too long. Leaves can also be a pain and cause a clogged pipe, so ensure you completing all your garden maintenance to avoid annoying tree-induced blockages!

Blocked Drain Tree Roots

Broken pipes

Cracked or broken pipes falls in a category with tree roots - any breakage in a pipe, no matter how small, can allow for tree roots to crawl their way in and rapidly grow (and cause more problems).

If the crack is big enough, dirt can fall into the pipe and clog it up or can cause a hole above it, as dirt continually washes down the crack in the drain.

Foreign objects

Toilet paper

Although toilet paper is designed to be put down toilets, it is not designed to be flushed in excessive amounts so ensure you are only flushing small amounts if necessary.

Toilet Paper

Feminine hygiene products

Feminine products such as sanitary pads and tampons are not to be placed down the drain or toilet, as they will retain liquid and expand (just like nappies). Always place all feminine hygiene products in the bin, not down a drain pipe.

Baby products

Additionally, baby products like nappies and baby wipes are not designed to be put down the drain or flushed down the toilet! When you think about it, nappies are designed to retain liquid and, when they do, grow in size. This therefore means the more water a nappy retains, the bigger it will get… and be way too big to fit down a pipe, causing an obstruction wherever it is located.

Food waste

This is one that generally affects your kitchen sink, as food scraps and dinner leftovers are washed down the drain while you wash the dishes and clean away appliances. Although some waste breaks down, some can not and will cause a build-up and blockage in your household pipes. Use a sink strainer if you can and try not to wash food down the sink if possible.

Coffee Grounds

Did you know : coffee grounds and tea leaves don’t break down and can especially clog up your drains!


It may sound funny, but kids toys can ‘accidentally’ get flushed down the drain and cause an obstruction. Keep an eye out to check no toys have magically ‘disappeared in the bathroom’ recently!

Poor workmanship

If household plumbing has not been installed correctly, such as incorrect piping size, fragile drain types or pipes that have been laid inappropriately, this can cause problems with the way in which water can flow freely through the pipes. Always check your plumber is properly qualified for the job, to ensure everything will be completed effectively and efficiently.

Poor Plumbing Workmanship

Mineral build-up

Finally, if you are in an area which has hard water then your pipes can get clogged up with mineral deposits. This can cause obstructions and backed-up water flow, and generally requires a professional plumber to come and remove the mineral build-up.

What should you do if you have a blocked drain in your home?

You can attempt to clear it yourself, however if you are unsure as to where the blockage is or what the obstruction is made of, it is best to call in your local plumber for some help. They have the industry experience and qualifications to figure out the source of the issue quickly and efficiently, and have the most appropriate tools to fix the problem properly. There’s nothing worse than trying to fix the problem yourself, only to find you have actually made the issue worse... sometimes it is best to leave it to the professionals.



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How can I prevent blocked drains in my home?

There are a few different things you can do to prevent blocked drains, such as :

  • Don’t pour oils or fats down the sink
  • Only put small amounts of toilet paper down the toilet at a time
  • Use your fixtures, such as sinks, toilets and dishwashers, for their intended purpose only
  • Regularly clean your drains

Remember, preventing a blockage is generally easier than removing one!

If you have any further questions regarding blocked drains, or think you might need some assistance with a block drain in your home, give the qualified plumbers at Everyday Plumbing a call on 0406 400 200 or complete an online job booking form today. We are your blocked drain experts in the Sydney area, so get in contact and we can help with all your plumbing needs!

Contact us today.

If you have a serious plumbing, blocked drain or hot water problem, don't wait until its too late.

0406 400 200

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