There’s absolutely no sugar coating the situation, clogged drains are nasty. Not only is it a huge inconvenience in the household, but blocked drains are downright disgusting; swarming with bacteria and encouraging an odour-inducing problem for everyone.
It’s a nuisance that every homeowner will experience at least once in their life and if you don’t sort it out soon, there’s a good chance it’ll bring some health issues along with them on the ride too. This is the same whether it’s a blocked shower drain, toilet drain, or sink.
From foreign objects that have accidentally been dropped down the drain to a heavy build-up of hair, grease and other gunk, there are many reasons why your household can be experiencing blocked drains.
Understanding exactly how each issue is caused can be an opportunity to better guard against it. And when the drain cleaner like baking soda or a DIY drain snake just won’t cut it, here’s what you need to know to fix the problem for good.
9 Most Common Reasons for Blocked Drains
- Plants and Dirt
- Grease Build-up
- Heavy Rain and Storms
- Broken Pipes
- Poor Water Flow
- Bad Pipe Installation
- Foreign Objects
1. Blocked Drains from Hair
We’ve seen it all before, a build-up of hair that leads to a clogged drain. Most times it’s a moderately easy task to simply ‘remove the hair’, but if it’s not cleared up straight away – it can cause a lot of issues down the line.
Hair falling off the body in the shower or while getting ready over the sink and in the bathroom is one of the most common causes of blocked sinks and drains. But whilst it’s a common problem for many homeowners, there are ways you can fix your drain and put a long-term solution in place.
How to Fix Blocked Drains from Hair?
What to do: Small amounts of hair can be removed by pulling it out with gloved hands to avoid it getting worse. Drain cleaning devices such as drain spiders can also be purchased to help remove the hair from the drain. However, it’s important to be careful as some devices and cheap hair removal chemicals can make the problem worse.
It’s important to remove the hair before it gets clogged into the entry of the drain pipes. If you’re unable to reach the hair or the devices aren’t working as intended, it’s time to speak to a blocked drain specialist.
2. Blocked Drains from Plants and Dirt
Natural debris like trees, shrubs, dirt and leaves can be an issue for water drains, especially after spring and autumn. Your regular garden maintenance that keeps the outdoor area looking great is also essential to the productivity of your water drains and pipes.
Leaves aren’t the only culprit, however – tree roots are notorious for growing underneath in search of water and as a result, will usually head straight to your drains.
How to Fix Blocked Drains from Plants and Dirt?
What to do: To prevent plants, leaves and dirt from blocking the drains, keep the outdoor area clear of fallen leaves and debris. If this mess is left long enough, it will cause your drains to become severely blocked.
Keep your trees well-watered so they are less drawn to the drains as a source of moisture and stay away from clogging plants where possible; like willow trees, oak trees, magnolias, boxwood shrubs, palm trees and gum trees.
While ensuring your yard is free from leaves and dirt is a great way to prevent build-up, sometimes the real issues lay under the surface. Tree roots can crack your drain pipes beneath your home – causing severe blockages and leaks. Specialist drain cleaning equipment can be used to clear the blockage and pipe relining technology can provide a long-term structural repair.
3. Blocked Drains from Grease Build-up
Like hair in the bathroom, grease and fat will build-up in the kitchen sink over time. These fatty substances are a very common cause of blocked drains and pipes and can be a nuisance to clear out.
Any grease waste or fatty substance that is washed down the sink will stick to the inside of the pipes and eventually build up to a point no liquid can pass through. It’s important to be aware that this grease doesn’t leave the pipes as easily as you would expect.
How to Fix Blocked Drains from Grease Build-up?
What to do: Avoid washing these fatty ingredients down the drain as much as possible. Grease that’s washed down the drain will cool and harden in the pipes.
A smart way to prevent this build-up of grease is to start collecting all glass jars that you purchase at the supermarket. Then, instead of pouring this oil or kitchen grease down the drain, put it in the small glass or plastic containers to discard with your garbage.
4. Blocked Drains from Toiletries
As more people get into the habit of disposing of toiletries down the drain, bigger problems are being caused in our pipes and sewers. Nappies and baby wipes are the two common issue items known to block drains after being flushed down the toilet.
Such items become immersed with water, they absorb the moisture and enlarge, quickly blocking access to water drains and pipes.
How to Fix Blocked Drains from Toiletries?
What to do: This way of disposing of toiletries is dreadful for the environment and everyone should be encouraged to dispose of toiletries the right way. In the home, these items should be taken out with your garbage, just as people should make use of the designated bins when using public changing rooms and toilets.
If it’s too late, book a qualified plumber to come and help with clearing blocked drains – but make sure it doesn’t occur again in the future.
5. Blocked Drains from Heavy Rain and Storms
Throughout the wet season, drains will experience floods of water because of heavy rainfall. Because drains aren’t really designed to take the full impact of this weather, water build-up can be common in many Perth households.
When there is an overflow of rainwater in gutters and downpipes, there’s a good chance there’s a blocked drain that needs to be cleared out.
How to Fix Blocked Drains from Heavy Rain and Storms?
What to do: Ensure gutters and outdoor drains are cleaned during the wet season to prevent a build-up of leaves which will cause a bigger blockage. Problems caused by heavy rain and storms will usually require a plumber to help unclog and assist with the wastewater removal. If this is the case, contact them as soon as possible to prevent further build-up and potential flooding in your home and yard.
6. Blocked Drains from Broken Pipes
Water pipes can break due to tree roots and general wear and tear. As soon as the pipe begins to fracture, it becomes more susceptible to blockages than pipes that are well intact.
Unless you can visibly see the broken pipe, it can be difficult to diagnose this issue. This becomes an even greater issue if you lack adequate space to inspect the problem.
How to Fix Blocked Drains from Broken Pipes?
What to do: If you suspect there may be a fracture in your pipes, it’s best to call a professional to come out and take a look using professional leak detection equipment.
Check the pipes for visible leaks or inside the home for water staining on the ceiling which can be a leading problem because of broken pipes. To diagnose, you’ll need to shut off the hot water flow valve, apply a pipe repair clamp and have the damaged section replaced.
7. Blocked Drains from Poor Water Flow
If your taps are only allowing small trickles of water rather than gushing out like normal, there’s a low water pressure or flow issue. Whilst this may not always be in relation to water pipes, it can be a sign that there is a build-up of sediment.
Both cold and hot water that flows through your pipes carry dissolved minerals that deposit on metal surfaces, it’s common for things like showerheads or parts of the taps to become clogged and reduce the water pressure.
How to Fix Blocked Drains from Poor Water Flow?
What to do: Clean showerheads and any removable parts of deposits and sediments. You can soak removable overnight in a vinegar solution to thoroughly clean it. If this doesn’t fix the problem, it may be something bigger and best to have a professional diagnose the issue.
8. Blocked Drains from Bad Pipe Installation
Poor pipe installation can result in costly drain blockages. Whilst DIY methods can be money-saving and an ‘easy’ part of a home renovation, installing your own pipes is not recommended. This can lead to problems like incorrect water flow, fractured pipes, and costly repairs.
How to Fix Blocked Drains from Bad Pipe? Installation
What to do: Always have a licensed plumber install your pipe and drain system. This will ensure everything is laid correctly underground and, in your walls, to promote a healthy water flow and reduce blockages.
If you already have pipes installed and are currently having issues, have a professional plumber come out and inspect the pipes to give you some on-the-spot recommendations.
9. Blocked Drains from Foreign Objects
From children’s toys to soap, food build-up, sanitary items, electronic waste, and other foreign materials, objects that can be easily dropped down the drain are likely to block eventually. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, many materials shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet or washed down the drain for this reason.
How to Fix Blocked Drains from Foreign Objects?
What to do: Keep watch of young children who may flush just anything down the toilet. Ensure you dispose of food scraps and waste properly, rather than trying to wash down the drain, and be wary of anything that may have accidentally dropped in, causing a blocked drain.