What causes blocked drains and what to do if you suspect one

Blocked drains are a common source of frustration for home and business owners. Find out what could be causing your blocked drain and what to do about it…

What causes a blocked drain

A common cause of blocked drains is actually tree roots. Especially if you have older clay pipes, they tend to be more fragile and will crack easily when put under pressure.

Once a tree root penetrates a pipe, it usually starts to grow inside it. This then stops the natural flow of water and allows waste to build up inside the drain.
Another common cause of blocked drains is a build-up of waste which can happen for any number of reasons. These could be:

  • using too much toilet paper
  • flushing wipes down the toilet (even disposable ones)
  • constantly rinsing hair or other waste down a sink

What you will see when a drain is blocked

The first sign of a blocked drain is slow drainage. This can happen in a sink or toilet bowl, and you may see the water struggling to go down and sometimes gurgling as it does.

Another sign of a blocked drain is waste spilling up from the overflow gulley. This gulley is designed to stop waste from coming back up inside the house, so if you see this then there is definitely an issue.

Sometimes you may also experience an odour coming from a drain. This is more likely to indicate a broken pipe in the wall, or that a drain or floor waste has lost its seal. When this occurs, a pungent odour can permeate up from the floor drain in your shower or bathroom – which is certainly not pleasant for those who need to use it!

What to do if you suspect a blocked drain

The sooner you call a plumber to inspect a potential blocked drain, the better the outcome. Leaving it to degrade over time can lead to the issue worsening and ultimately costing you more money in the long run and ultimately costing you more money in the long run.
If we visit a home with a suspected blocked drain, we will first ask the home or business owner to say what they are experiencing. This helps us determine if the problem is likely to be related to an internal or external drain.
We’ll then start our investigation, which can involve:

  • putting a camera down the line to see what’s happening inside the drain
  • using a high pressure jet to blast out any blockages so we can see more clearly

Once we fully identify the issue and its cause, we’ll explain the best approach to fix it.

Often, we can remediate the issue then and there. But if there’s extensive damage to a drain caused by tree roots, it may require more work. For example, we may need to dig down to the area and replace the old pipe with a newer and stronger version. Other times, we can simply reline the pipe which allows us to avoid excavation and keeps the yard intact.

Blocked drains are a nuisance that can get worse if left over time. To find out more about blocked drains, or to book a plumber to inspect yours, simply get in touch.