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4 reasons why your drains may become blocked

Common causes of blocked drains in domestic properties

Every home relies on effective pipes and drainage to ensure that water drains away from the house properly. Obviously if there is an issue such as a blockage or the pipe becomes compromised then that won’t happen and you could well end up with waste water in your home or your garden and that can be very unpleasant indeed.

Here we look at the most common reasons that cause problems with drains and what you can do to avoid or deal with them.

1. Putting inappropriate items down toilets and sinks

One of the most common causes of blockage it through putting things down into the drains that you really should not be doing. The biggest culprits are wipes and fats. Baby/facial/cleaning wipes etc do not break down like toilet paper does and so they accumulate in drains and eventually block them. Even so-called flushable wipes should really not be flushed down the toilet. Fats also cause big problems because of the way they solidify in the drains (particularly when they come into contact with fibrous items like wipes). The problem caused is perfectly illustrated by the ‘fat berg’ that was discovered in sewers in London which was a mass of fat and wipes as large as a double decker bus! Other items found in the drains include nappies, living goldfish and even areas of growing cannabis plants.

What you can do: This one is really easy, just don’t put anything other than toilet roll down the toilet (apart from the obvious of course!) and dispose of fats and food waste safely through your household refuse (trying pouring warm fats into an old yogurt pot until it solidifies).

2. External items getting into the drains

Drains can also become blocked from the outside. Leaves, stones and debris can fall down grates and get into drains and sometimes people pour things they shouldn’t down them such as paint. These can eventually lead to blockages.

What you can do: Consider installing some drain covers over grates to stop foreign objects being blown into the drains (and make it more difficult for anyone to willingly pour something down there).

3. Tree Roots

Tree roots can be quite extensive underground and what may have been minimal or not even there at all when the pipes were originally installed may be interfering with your drainage pipes to the extent where they become damaged. They can cause pipes to crack which makes them leak or even start growing into the pipes which can block the flow of water.

What you can do: Obviously you’re a bit limited because you can’t see what’s going on underground but just keep an eye on any trees on your property, particularly old, larger ones. If you can see roots causing other issues such as cracking paths or coming up through the ground then they could also potentially be causing issues under the ground as well. If you start to notice potential symptoms of issues then it may be worth calling a professional in to send a camera in to check the pipes.

4. Pipe structural issues

Blockages and leaks can be caused by the pipes themselves breaking down. Terracotta pipes can crack and suffer from displacement (where a joint perishes and a section of the pipe drops) and fibreglass pipes can actually become ‘squashed’ which reduces the size and stops water flowing. Subsidence can also compromise underground pipes.

What you can do: Again, because it’s all underground it’s difficult to know if there is a problem unless you’re experiencing issues. A CCTV and visual survey from a professional is the only way to tell if there is a problem but it could be a better option than waiting until you get a sewage leak in the house.

The signs of a drainage block you need to look out for

Often there will be indicators of a blockage before it becomes a major incident such as a sewage leak in the house or the garden.This includes things like water not draining away properly or bad smells coming from toilets and sinks. You may even see small amounts of water coming into low lying parts of the house such as cellars and this may be discoloured or smell foul.

Dealing with blocked drains

If you are concerned you may have a drain blockage then you should really consider a CCTV survey: we send a camera down the drain to see exactly what’s going on down there and from there we can advise the best course of action. This survey can be done for around £90 which is much cheaper than dealing with a sewage leak in the house! If you have water coming in from somewhere we can also conduct some dye testing which would allow us to see where the leak is coming from.

If there is a blockage we can offer a high pressure jetting service to clear it and we can also remove and replace any broken or damaged pipes. See more information here.

If you are worried about your drains please call us on 0800 032 6478 or send us a message.

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