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What causes blocked drains?

Allen Plumbing performing CCTV drain inspection

Blocked drains are more than just a nuisance. Along with gross smells and poorly draining sinks, they are often signs of a plumbing issue that could cause bigger problems for your home if left unattended. If blocked drains are not dealt with quickly, they could damage your plumbing system or cause backflow of water. These examples are not only costly to repair if ignored but can cause health hazards. 

That makes it essential to stay on top of your plumbing, and much easier to do so when you understand what kind of problems you might face. Here are the most common causes of blocked drains to keep in mind next time your sink fills up. 

Top 6 most common causes of blocked drains 

1. Foreign objects in the pipe 

From kids’ toys to sanitary products, or even a battery. When left down there, they not only impact water flow but can also cause debris and material build-ups that make the problem even worse. 

2. Debris build-ups 

Did you know that the average person loses up to 100 strands of hair a day? Typical bathroom routines often result in loose hairs ending up in your pipes, blocking up drains and sinks as they accumulate into clumps. Other debris can also build up in your drains, like grease or fat. When you pour grease down your sink, it sticks to the inner lining of your pipes and can eventually block the passage. Fat from waste, food residue and soap can cause similar issues, accumulating over time and stopping water flow down your drain. 

3. Broken or deteriorating pipework 

Broken or damaged pipes can be caused by anything from ground movement, flash flooding, to general wear and tear from age. As they fracture or crumble, solids can build up after being caught on jagged edges, causing a domino effect as these build up. Otherwise, natural water flow can be disrupted by displaced pipes, causing the water to back up and block. This can become quite catastrophic if left unattended, even leading to burst pipes. 

4. Poor installations 

 Pipes and drains may not perform properly if they were not installed correctly in the first place. In the early 2000s property boom, a lot of houses were constructed quickly with little regard given to the pipeline design. Since design is such a vital element of a properly performing drain, this poor installation can have significant impacts. You could be experiencing blockages caused by: 

  • incorrect sizing that impacts the flow of water 
  • poor laying where pipes are not properly sloped for effective drainage
  • misalignment that causes drains to collapse and crumble.

5. Heavy rain 

Rain can be unpredictable, and sometimes drains can become overwhelmed by the sudden influx of water. With the torrential rains that certain parts of the country are subject to, there is nowhere for the water to go, resulting in backups and even flooding in some cases. It can also cause objects like leaves, mould, and soil to make their way into your drains and cause further blockages. 

6. Tree roots 

New Zealand is lucky enough to have an abundance of beautiful flora, including large trees with plenty of roots. The trouble comes when these roots make their way into our pipes and drains. Warm, nutrient-filled sewer drains are the ideal environment for roots to flourish, so they will find hairline fractures to gain entry. This can crack the pipes while causing a root infestation that prohibits water flow and often results in backed-up toilets. 

How to fix and prevent blocked drains

When it comes to prevention, the best thing you can do is invest in regular cleaning and maintenance that clears out any build-ups before they become blockages. It also helps to get consistent pipe inspections that identify minor problems before they snowball. For example, a plumber can inspect your drains to identify minor cracks and offer a solution to get things running smoothly before anything bursts. 

When it comes to fixing blockages once they’re already there, you can start by pouring boiling water down the drain. This can help dissolve fatty blockages and buildup from grease. If that doesn’t work, try using chemicals to eat away at debris in your drains. However, if the problem persists you should reach out to professionals. They can assess the level of damage the blockage has caused and use their expertise to address the issue so you can get your pipes back to perfect running order. 

Get your drains cleared with Allen Plumbing & Gas 

At Allen Plumbing & Gas, we are equipped with the knowledge and experience needed to diagnose your plumbing issues. No matter how severe your blocked drain issue may be, our team of experts can help. We offer both reactive repairs and ongoing maintenance, so we can provide solutions for minor problems, major issues, and even emergency plumbing situations. Find out more on our website and give us a call today.