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Do I Need a Plumber or a Drain Contractor?

To the average person, the terms "plumbing" and "drainage" are interchangeable, but they are actually different systems with different purposes, so the service you'd be requesting would be - you guessed it - different. A lot of times, people will call a plumber when what they're looking for is a drain contractor, also known as a drainage expert.

In general, plumbing is the system through which (hopefully) clean water enters your home - and any issue relating to your home's internal pipes, whereas drainage is the system through which wastewater is taken away from your home. Drain contractors clear blockages from drains, replace or reline drainage pipes, and basically deal with external pipe and sewer pipe problems.

Here is a primer on whom you should contact to deal with a few common problems. Otherwise, you might call a plumber when you actually need a drain contractor.\

Some Common Problems Plumbers Fix

  • Your shower comes out like a dribble, and there's nothing wrong with your shower head.
  • Your tap is dripping, or the water temperature isn't right.
  • The radiator pipes are damaged.

Some Common Problems Drain Contractors Fix

  • Blocked drain. The drain takes a long time to clear, or there's a bad smell or gurgling sounds coming from the drain. The most likely cause is a leak or blockage in one of your drainage pipes. The drain contractor will first conduct a drain inspection to discern the problem and then clear the blockage, by drain jetting, for example.
  • Blocked sewer. If left unfixed, this problem isn't just about your house; it will extend to your neighbourhood and beyond and the ramifications could be serious. Not only are there sanitary concerns, but the potential to damage your pipes. You need a drain contractor to provide a sewer cleaning service.
  • Repairing broken, burst, or otherwise damaged drainage or sewer pipes. Once the problem has been cleared, if there has been damage to the pipes, the drain contractor will repair them. There have been some great advances in pipe relining, so excavation may not be required
  • Inspections of external drains or pipes on your property. If you feel that there is something strange happening, you don't have to wait until there is a serious problem. The drain contractor can conduct a drain inspection (most likely with a CCTV drain camera) to assess the condition of the pipes and advise whether any repairs should be done. Don't forget that preventative maintenance is always preferable to cleaning up a catastrophe.
  • Removing (foul) waste from septic tanks. Some drain contractors offer this service and hire a special tanker service to ensure safe transport. 

When Is It Appropriate to DIY?

  • If one or two drains in your home are clogged or slow, you can try unclogging it with a plunger or drain cleaner - make sure you take safety precautions, like wearing protective gloves and safety glasses, if you use the latter. If this doesn't work and you have a basic familiarity with pipe work, you can move on to dismantling or replacing the fixture's trap. After that, you would need to use an auger. Read this DIY Advice article to find out more about how to unclog drains in your home.
  • If several drains - on the first floor of your house, for example, are clogged or slow, there may be a problem with the main line, and it is more prudent to call in the experts.
  • It is best to leave external drains and sewer lines to the drain experts.

Talk to the Experts in Perth

If you're not sure what you're dealing with, or have any questions, contact the experts at Tunnel Vision and find out what they can do for you.

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