Causes of Blocked Drains

It’s easy to ignore your drains. After all, out of sight out of mind. But every item that swirls down your drain has the potential to cause a clog and over time these blockages can become a nightmare to remove.

Read on to discover the top 5 most common causes of blocked drains (plus our DIY hacks to fix the problem and keep money in your pocket).

Structural damage. Swelling insect populations. Health concerns.

These serious (and unwanted) problems may seem like they’d be easy to spot and avoid, but they all share one common trait, and it’s much simpler than you think…

They’re all the long term result of blocked drains.

If you’ve been spending more time at home during the past 18 months, or you’ve seen an increase in commercial activity as life starts to go back to normal, then you may be putting extra pressure on your plumbing without knowing it.

At Mr. Pipe Relining we’re committed to helping all Melbourn homeowners and commercial properties save on their plumbing, and by spotting the following 5 causes of blocked drains you can avoid calling us altogether.

But first, how do you spot a drain that’s blocked up and in need of help?

How do I identify a blocked drain?

It’s easy to spot a sink that won’t drain or a clogged toilet, but these are the obvious signs of a blockage. Unfortunately, blocked drains build up slowly over time so if you’re noticing water that won’t drain, it’s likely there’s a serious blockage out of sight for you to deal with.

Like any plumbing problem, spotting warning signs early can save you hundreds (if not thousands) in repairs and emergency fixes down the line.

To help you spot a blocked drain before it becomes a major problem, keep an eye out for the following warning signs.

Slowly draining water

If the water in your sink, shower or toilet is taking longer than usual to drain, there may be a small blockage in the pipes below. Without attention this blockage can worsen and prevent any water from getting through. If you notice water pooling around your feet during your morning shower, or the sink staying half-full at work as your employees wash their hands, you may have a blocked drain on your hands.

Unpleasant smells

Some of the most common causes of blocked drains come in the form of food waste, cooking oils, and fats that stick to your pipes and create blockages. Not only will this prevent water from passing, but as these items decompose you’ll notice a foul and unpleasant smell which is most obvious around drains. In certain commercial settings it may be tough to identify these smells, making the need for effective CCTV remote scanning to spot blockages if you’re concerned there’s an issue.

Bubbling or gurgling sounds

Have you heard strange bubbling or gurgling sounds coming from your drains? These noises may be the result of air bubbles trapped in your pipes and unable to pass a blockage. As the air looks for ways to pass through the debris, you’ll hear the bubbling or gurgling noise.

These warning signs may point to a problem out of sight, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg.  If you’re concerned about blocked drains, reach out and speak to a member of the Mr. Pipe Relining team for a fast FREE quote today.

Will my home insurance cover blocked drains?

If you’re paying for home insurance then you’ll naturally want to know what’s covered and what’s not.

Damage from plumbing emergencies is covered by most Australian home insurance policies, for example if a burst pipe weakened the structure of your patio which then collapsed. However, home insurance typically won’t cover the actual cost of unblocking a pipe, or the plumber’s service fee to fix your problem.

If you’re renting your Melbourne home or apartment then you may be responsible for covering the cost of a blocked drain service. As a guide:

Landlords are responsible… Tenants are responsible…
When damage is caused by the landlord

When damage is from wear and tear

When the damage is no one’s fault

When the damage is caused by the tenant

For example, hair clogging shower drain or items in kitchen sink

How do I stop my drains from blocking in the first place?

Prevention is better than a cure.

Keeping your drains clear of blockages is the most effective form of prevention – plus you’ll save money on professional unblocking services.

Unfortunately, 2021 has seen an increase in blocked drains as a result of COVID-19 and the thousands of Melbournians spending more time at home. This has led to an influx in items that have been flushed or washed down sinks that should have gone in the bin (e.g. flushable wipes that can put pressure on pipes).

Although it’s not possible to police everything that ends up in your drains, by watching out for the following external objects and applying our simple preventative measures, you’ll be able to keep your pipes as clear as possible.

Put food waste in the bin

It’s easy to scrape your plates into the sink after a good meal and rinse off any excess food waste under the tap. But that convenience can cost you. At the same time, we’re not recommending you remove every item of leftover food and place it in the bin by hand (that’s no one’s idea of a good time).

Instead, look into a sink strainer that will catch food particles and organic waste before it makes its way down the drain. Then, when you’re done rinsing your plates, simply take your sink strainer and empty the food and excess waste into the bin.

Keep cooking oil out of the sink

It’s easy to look at hot cooking oil and think “it’s liquid, it’ll just run down the drain” but that attitude can lead to severe blockages over time. Although cooking grease isn’t solid, it quickly sticks to the inside of your pipes. Over time this makes your pipes thinner and thinner until nothing can pass through, then you’ve got a costly fix on your hands.

Instead, pour cooking oil into a jar or container and throw it away when it’s full.

Don’t flush non-paper products

We’re talking about sanitary products, non-flushable wipes, paper towels, etc.

Although your toilet will typically flush these items out of view, that doesn’t mean they pass through your pipes successfully. In fact, a build-up of non-paper products can wreak havoc on your plumbing and require full pipe replacement which is a costly and inconvenient service you can do without.

5 Most common causes of blocked drains in Australia

#1 – Hair

Every time you jump in the shower, you’ll be sending hair down the drain. It’s normal to lose between 50 and 100 strands of hair a day, but over time these small amounts can create a big problem.

It’s typically not the hair itself that causes blockages. Instead, hair is a type of binding agent that tangles and clings to other forms of debris, for example dirt, grime or soap. Even those with short hair can see blockages as hair builds week after week.

MR PIPE RELINING’S DIY TIP: Drain cleaners may be able to dissolve hair (as long as it hasn’t built up over time alongside other waste). If that doesn’t work, look into a professional drain cleaning service then purchase a drain catcher to prevent hair from entering your pipes.

#2 – Food Waste

What’s life without good food?

Unfortunately, that food can become a nightmare in your plumbing system when it gets washed down the drain in your kitchen sink. While you should be careful with all types of food waste, items like coffee grounds, tea leaves, egg shells and pasta are especially problematic.

MR PIPE RELINING’S DIY TIP: Try a combination of baking soda (½ a cup) and vinegar (1 cup) with hot water to break up stubborn food waste. If that doesn’t work, organise a professional plumber to unblock your drain then use a sink strainer to keep food out.

#3 – Fat, Oil and Grease

We’ve covered food already, but the damaging effects of fat, oil and grease get their own section.

Enemies of plumbing systems, these substances are sticky and adhesive, latching onto the inside of your pipes and accumulating day after day. Over time, the build-up of fats, oil and grease (along with other food waste and foreign objects in your pipes) causes a blockage that no water can pass through.

While it’s common for families to rinse off plates or cooking utensils after a meal, this drain blocking problem also affects Melbourne commercial properties like cafes, restaurants and industrial settings.

MR PIPE RELINING’S DIY TIP: Keeping your drains clear starts with education. Make sure your family or employees know what can and can’t be sent down the sink. Many fats and oils will congeal as they cool, so set aside excess greasy products and throw away once they harden.

#4 – Foreign Objects

No matter how hard you try, foreign objects can find their way into your toilet, shower or sink.

This could be kid’s toys that get accidentally flushed by curious little minds, or sanitary products that are flushed with good intentions, but without realising that the wrong object can cause a significant backlog in your pipes.

Although many products are marketed as “flushable”, they may not be able to be fully broken down due to cotton and other fibres that sewage treatment microorganisms can’t destroy. As large foreign objects, it’s only a matter of time before they attract other clogging agents and leave you with pipes that are full to burst.

MR PIPE RELINING’S DIY TIP: If a product has the word ‘toilet’ in front of it, that’s a good sign it’s flushable. For example, ‘toilet paper’. In contrast, ‘wet wipes’, ‘paper towels’, and ‘baby wipes’ don’t fit that criteria, so they should go in the bin instead. If a foreign object has become lodged in your plumbing system, call a Melbourne plumber fast to ensure no damage occurs to your system.

#5 – Roots.

Admittedly this is tough to control, but roots from your yard’s trees are a common cause of blocked drains. As your trees and plants grow, their root systems spread. If you’ve planted trees near your Melbourne home you may have introduced roots to your pipes without knowing it.

Planting trees with enough space to grow away from pipes is a great strategy for the future, but if roots have punched through your pipes and are blocking your plumbing, you’ll need to contact your local Melbourne plumber for pipe replacement.

MR PIPE RELINING’S DIY TIP: If you’re planting trees, make sure you know where your sewer line is located and keep trees at least 10 metres from this area. Small, slow-growing trees typically have non-aggressive root systems. However, if you’re past the point of planting trees it’s best to organise an inspection from your local Melbourne plumber.

What other items commonly block drains?

We’ve covered 5 of the most common causes of Melbourne blocked drains, but there’s a few other items that we see clogging drains everywhere from the CBD to St. Kilda and back again.

Check out the table below and see if you’ve been letting any of these items end up in your drains.

✗ Kids Toys ✗ Cigarette Butts ✗ Cotton Balls
✗ Coffee Grounds ✗ Paint ✗ Medicine
✗ Bones ✗ Flour ✗ Fruit Seeds

Save time and money with Melbourne’s leading blocked drain plumbers

There’s never a good time for a blocked drain.

But since blocked drains are the #1 reason Melbournians call their local plumber, it helps to have a team you trust on standby when disaster strikes, whether it’s in the early stages of a blockage or your toilet is backing up and you need help ASAP.

At Mr. Pipe Relining we’ve worked with homes, businesses and industrial clients to assess drain problems, identify the problem, and offer fast and reliable solutions.

Concerned about your drains? Click here to use our simple online form to request your fast and FREE quote today.