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Causes Of Drain Blockages

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  • Drain Blockages, Causes
  • Posted date:
  • 04-09-2021
Causes Of Drain Blockages

What are the causes of drain blockages? What are the signs to look for if you want to prevent your drains from becoming clogged. We look at the common causes of blocked drains and how to prevent them.

What Are the Causes Of Drain Blockages

Common Causes of blocked drains

If you have ever had a blocked drain, then you know they can be a nightmare to deal with. 

They stink, prevent essential fixtures such as your toilet and kitchen sinks from working and sometimes they can even cause overflow, which is one of the most disgusting cleanups imaginable. 

Not just that, but a bad blockage isn't just a matter of pouring some baking soda down the drain and calling it a day; you also need to hire a plumbing service to send over a professional plumber to fix it.

What Are the Causes Of Drain Blockages?

But why? What could possess your drainage system to throw a hissy fit? Well, here's why:

Pipe scale is a naturally occurring substance that builds up inside your water pipes to the point where it can obstruct or prevent water flow. The actual scale itself is a compound of metallic elements such as calcium and magnesium. These elements find their way into the pipes through the water itself. 

Most water contains a lot more than just H2O. For example, mineral water that you can find on store shelves is filled with metallic elements that are actually good for you. 

These elements, unfortunately, tend to react to environmental conditions such as the temperature of hot water and end up forming deposits of scale which then collects more and more particles until it becomes one of the common causes of clogged drains. 

Waste management and garbage disposal systems are designed for very specific purposes. The sink is for water and cleaning dishes, the bath is for cleaning your body and having a nice soak, and the toilet is for human waste. 

When used outside of their intended circumstances, these systems invariably break, such as food waste being flushed down the toilet or sink.

Food waste items often have properties that prevent them from properly being transported along a water pipeline that wasn't designed to handle it, which clogs the pipes. 

One of the most common causes of blocked drains is actually tree roots. As trees are constantly seeking water, they will be inherently drawn to drain pipes as they can detect that they contain water. 

Trees are perfectly capable of finding and exploiting any weakness or vulnerability in a drainage pipe, such as cracks that have developed from old age. 

When they gain access to a pipeline, they are a menace as their roots grow to block water flow completely. 

Wet wipes may seem like toilet paper in theory, especially the so-called "flushable" types, but in practice, these types of wipes are a serious problem. 

The issue is that they are not biodegradable like toilet paper, so they don't decompose properly in the drainage system, and the water pressure isn't enough to move them. 

Not only does this pose an issue for the big waste management and processing plants as they have to spend millions to deal with them, but these wipes can also get stuck in your pipes and cause a blocked drain. 

While many causes of blocked drains occur due to something getting stuck in a pipe, there are cases where the pipe itself is destroyed or severely damaged from disintegration. 

This can be due to any number of reasons, from environmental shifts in the soil to temperature changes. 

While more common in older pipes made of less resistant materials, this sort of disintegration can also occur in modern super durable plastic pipes. 

When it does, there is obviously nowhere for the water to go, and so the drain blockage will cause a backup of waste that can affect multiple homes or even neighbourhoods.

feminine hygiene products such as tampons and baby wipes are not biodegradable, and so much like the aforementioned wet wipes; they don't exactly get along with drainage pipes. 

This is even the case with products that claim to be flushable, as they only receive that title for being able to fit inside the drainage system physically. 

The issue mentioned above is only exacerbated because tampons are also absorbent and so tend to expand when placed in water; as such, a lot of them in the drains is a recipe for disaster and why you should always use proper disposal bins. 

One of the properties of hair is that it tends to get tangled and when you combine that with its high tensile strength, you have a clump of material that can cause some serious damage to things like waste disposal systems that tend to spin. 

That's why large enough clumps of hair can get stuck in drains cause blockages by obstructing water flow. 

How often do you finish cooking a pan of bacon or some other fatty meat and immediately pour the oil from the pan into the sink? If such a thing is a common occurrence for you, then you have been unknowingly giving your drainage system indigestion regularly. 

Grease and fats are some of the most easily binding substances that you will find outside of adhesives, and they love to congeal and form great big clumps when left to cool. These clumps are one of the most common causes of clogged drains.

As natural debris is found everywhere outside, it is a common occurrence for leaves and the rest to find their way into storm drains. 

These foreign objects are perfect at building up constantly over time and causing blocked drains. 

It is also difficult to prevent this from happening because the only real way to stop them is to cover the storm drains or make the grates smaller, but in doing so, you reduce their efficiency at preventing storm flooding. The same goes for things like weeds and other plants. 

They have an uncanny ability to find their way into the cracks in pipes to sprout their malignant roots and clog it all up to take the watery spoils for themselves. 

A water heater is a system, similar but separate from boilers, that supplies hot water to fixtures such as radiators, taps and showers by mixing cold water with hot. There are two kinds of water heaters, tank water heaters and tankless water heaters. 

Tanked water heaters store the heated water inside a tank, ready to be delivered to another system. Tankless water heaters instead mix the water on the spot and instantly to achieve the desired temperature. 

This means that tankless water heaters also tend to work faster and take up less space than their counterparts.

Professional plumbers offer the services to perform regular maintenance, installation, services and repair work for these systems, so be sure to call one before attempting to do any such work on your own.


How To Prevent Clogged Drains

Having to call a plumber in to perform a drain cleaning on your blocked drains is a hassle and often an unnecessary expense that's guaranteed to ruin your day until it's fixed. 

That's why the saying goes that "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure". By following these simple tips, you can help prevent the unceremonious death of your drainage system in the first place and shouldn't need to buy a drain cleaner.

  1. Be sure to keep any leftover food, grease, fats or coffee grounds out of your sink or any drains for that matter. These are all better off put in the bin.
  2. Better yet, if you own a compost heap, you can put your leftover food there, and your garden will thank you for it.
  3. Liquid grease and fat will quickly set when they cool, so it is best to store it in either a specialised container or just put it in the bin instead. Some grease is also recyclable.
  4. Hair has a knack for getting just about everywhere, but the most common place it congregates is your bathroom drains. Consider getting a mesh film or screen for the drain. These hair catcher devices are designed to keep your hair out of your drains in an easy and manageable way.
  5. Another way to keep your hair out of your drains is to give it a quick brush before you shower or bathe. This also applies to washing your pet dog or cat, particularly when they are moulting.
  6. Feminine hygiene products belong in the bin, not the toilet. We would advise you to get a sanitary waste container for things such as used tampons.
  7. Last but certainly not least is to keep an eye on what you are flushing down your drains. By keeping in mind what your drainage system is designed to handle, you can prevent the majority of possible blockages and save yourself a load of hassle, time and money in the long run.


 We offer services to both domestic and commercial customers. Our charges are highly competitive and realistic. If you are experiencing blocked drainage in your home or at work - Please contact us.