Drains transport waste and water through plumbing pipes, connecting toilets, showers and sinks. When a drain becomes blocked, it can cause problems that range from unpleasant to hazardous.
Whether or not a blocked drain is considered an emergency will depend on the severity and where the blockage is located. Follow this guide to understand how to recognise a drain emergency and know who is responsible for fixing it.
Sewer line blockage
The main sewer line connects your home to the municipal sewer or septic tank and is out of sight, out of mind until something goes wrong. If your toilets are constantly slow to flush or need frequent plunging, or if wastewater backs up into other drains, this is a clear sign that the main line is clogged.
Food waste, hair, paper and other debris can build up in a sewer pipe over time, leading to a blockage. Overtime, this can lead to the line cracking and failing.
Tree roots can also cause problems, inching closer to the line over time until they completely encircle it or break it. To avoid this, plant trees far away from your property’s sewer line. A plumber can use chemical solutions or mechanical methods such as hydro jetting to remove a sewer line blockage. This can involve digging up part of your yard but is necessary to keep your home safe and functional.
Hidden pipe leaks
Since most of a home’s plumbing is behind walls or underground, it can be difficult to spot leaks until they cause significant damage. Hidden leaks can be caused by a number of things, from old pipes bursting through or cracking to ground movement damaging the pipes beneath the surface.
Poorly constructed or misaligned pipework is another common culprit for blocked drains. This often happens when building companies are trying to turn a profit during property booms.
It’s also a good idea to keep outdoor areas clean to prevent leaves, dirt and debris from blowing into drains and blocking them. Likewise, it’s a good idea to put a bin near your toilet so sanitary items, cotton wool and wet wipes can be thrown away
rather than flushed down the toilet where they may get stuck or jammed in narrow pipes.
Remember, if your external drain is blocked and it’s not on your property boundary or shared with neighbors, it’s the responsibility of your local water and sewerage company to sort it out. Contact them using the details on your water bill or deeds.
Blocked sink or shower
Blocked shower drains are often caused by hair, soap scum and other debris that build up over time. It’s important to remove hair from the plughole after every shower and to clean your shower drain regularly to prevent a build-up. A shower
drain catcher is also an option that can help keep hair and other debris out of your drains.
If you don’t want to use harsh chemical drain cleaners, pour a cup of baking soda down the drain and then follow it with a kettle of hot (not boiling) water. This should bubble and foam and loosen any hair or other organic blockage.
If this doesn’t work, you can try using a wire drain snake or removing the overflow plate and plunging. If you still can’t clear the clog, it may be necessary to call a plumber. Regularly using caustic chemical drain cleaners can damage your pipes and drain fittings. You can also prevent clogs from developing in the first place by installing a water softener.
The smell of sewage is a sure sign that there is a blockage somewhere in the system. Heavy rain and storms hurl debris down drains and into water pipes. This can crack or deform piping and create a break, allowing sewage to leak into the home.
Toiletries such as nappies, baby wipes, sanitary products and paper towels can also cause drain blockages if they aren’t disposed of correctly. They should be thrown in the rubbish bin, not flushed down the toilet.
If you think you have a blocked drain, it’s important to understand your responsibilities and how to fix the problem yourself. Otherwise, you could end up with a messy and expensive bill to pay. Grab a drain rod and a plunger, turn off the water supply valve to the faulty pipe, and begin digging into the blockage. If the smell is particularly strong, you may need to hire a professional. Sites like https://www.fixitrightplumbing.com.au/plumber-geelong/ have professional plumbers who have the experience to fix your drains and save you money and time.