5 Ways to Prevent Blocked Drains in Your Home
It’s one of the most common plumbing problems that people face – a blocked drain. It doesn’t matter which sink it affects – the kitchen, bathroom or laundry – blocked drains are an inconvenient hassle that can lead to a range of problems.
Prevention is always better than cure, but what steps can we take to prevent blocked drains? While there are some outside influences, most of the problems people have with drain clogging is to do with what is put down drains and how well the plumbing system is maintained.
We’ve got five tips on how to prevent blocked drains. But let’s start with an important topic that must be addressed before attempting to unclog the drain yourself or calling a fully qualified plumber to get the job done.
What are the Signs of a Blocked Drain?
This may seem obvious but blocked drains can go unnoticed until you’ve got water filling your kitchen sink that just won’t drain. By the time you can fill the sink without using a plug, the problem has already escalated.
Here are some tell-tale signs that you’ve got a blocked drain:
- Water drains slowly in sinks, the bath or shower drain
- Water is at low level in the toilet
- Gurgling sounds after every toilet flush
- Unpleasant smell coming from drains
- Floor drain overflowing with soapy water
- Water leaking from pipes
- Puddles of water in the backyard
If you experience any of these problems, you’ve probably got blocked drains. Let’s take a look at five tips to help you avoid that problem happening in the first place.
1. Clean Plates Before Washing
Food waste is not meant to go down the drain. Some food does not decompose and it becomes lodged in the drain walls, eventually causing a blocked drain.
Make sure you scrape food off plates into the bin before washing dishes, whether you’re washing by hand or using a dishwasher. Anything solid that ends up on the plate, from bones and other leftovers to a used napkin, should not end up going down your sink. The same goes for coffee grounds, flour and egg shells.
This potential problem, of course, will be partly solved if you have already invested in the next tip.
2. Install a Drain Strainer to Avoid Blocked Drains
Whether it’s deliberate or not, foreign objects sometimes end up going down drains. It’s not always leftover food. It might be a case of losing a ring down the sink while washing the dishes or a child stuffing a small toy down a drain hole.
Whatever the case, these items are not meant to be in a drain which is designed for water. That’s why it’s a good idea to install a drain strainer which will prevent these items from disappearing into your drain in the first place.
The same applies to the drain in your shower. To avoid clogging your bathroom drains with hair, soap, shampoo and anything else, use a drain hair catcher to keep the water flowing smoothly. There are several different types of drain hair catchers, check them out here.
3. Dispose of Oil and Grease Properly
It might seem an easy option to wash oil and grease from your frying pan down the drain, but it’s not a good idea. When oil and grease cools down it becomes thick and more solid, leading to a potential blocked drain.
Either install a grease trap in your drain or allow it to cool down before disposing of it in the bin. You might also scrape it into a container before putting it in the bin.
4. The Toilet is Not a Rubbish Bin
The toilet is not designed to act as a rubbish disposal unit. Only human waste and toilet paper are meant to be flushed down the toilet. And even then, be careful not to flush too much toilet paper down the toilet.
Items not meant to be flushed down a toilet include food, tissues or any other kind of paper, nappies, female hygiene products and – regardless of the name – flushable wipes (which are not designed to break down like toilet paper). All of these items should be disposed of in a bin.
5. Tree Roots Cause Blocked Drains
Whenever you’re planting trees and shrubs, try to keep in mind the location of your stormwater drains. Tree roots naturally seek out moisture, which means they become a threat to any water or waste pipes.
Tree roots can find the smallest crack in a stormwater or sewer pipe and, once inside the pipe, will flourish and cause a major blockage. In this particular case, you will need professional help from a licensed plumber.
Old ceramic pipes are particularly susceptible to damage from tree roots, so if major repairs are necessary, it could be time to upgrade to modern PVC or copper pipes.
When Do You Need to Call a Plumber?
There are many solutions you can try when you’ve got blocked drains in the kitchen, bathroom, laundry or outside drains. Many people opt for commercially available drain cleaners, which can be effective.
There are homemade remedies such as boiling water, bicarbonate (baking) soda and vinegar, which have also proven to do the trick. Then there’s the old-fashioned plunger, which has cleared many stubborn blockages.
If the clog is particularly serious and can’t be dislodged, it could be a sign you’re facing bigger problems. If this is the case, call a qualified plumber to analyse the problem. A trained technician will have the equipment and knowledge to assess the situation.
Depending on the problem, the blocked drain plumber can offer:
- CCTV drain camera inspection
- Hydrojet drain cleaning
- Tree root removal
- Pipe relining
- Pipe replacement
If you’re in an older home, the damage may have already been done. Regardless, you need to get into good habits to protect your drains and pipes. In a newer home, you can follow our recommendations and avoid putting your plumbing system through unnecessary wear and tear. That’s the best way to avoid the inconvenience and expense of blocked drains.
Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See our Terms & Conditions here.