Blocked Drains – Common Causes and How to Unblock Them

Dealing with a blocked or clogged drain is one of the most frustrating household plumbing issues. Drains can get easily congested with accumulated debris, leading to backed-up sinks, foul odours, and overflows, which can cause chaos in the household. That’s why identifying the causes of blocked drains is key to finding the right solution. While do-it-yourself methods can work for minor clogs, severe blockages often require professional drain cleaning services. Here, we have compiled a list of common causes for blocked drains and tips on how to unblock toilets to manage things by yourself.

Common Causes of Blocked Drains

Blockage in the drain can cause it to overflow or restrict water flow, which can be frustrating. Here are some causes of blocked drains which will help to figure out an appropriate solution:

Intruding Tree Roots

Invasive tree roots are attracted to water sources and can sneak into cracks or openings in drain pipes. As the roots grow, they become entangled and cause major obstructions. Older homes with deteriorating pipes are particularly susceptible to root blockages.

Heavy Rains and Floods

Sudden heavy rains or floods can wash tons of debris like leaves, dirt, and garbage into drains. Storm drains and sewer lines are more prone to clogging from flood debris.

The Buildup of Deposits and Debris

The most common cause of blocked drains is an everyday buildup of organic matter like food scraps, grease, soap residue, and hair. Small debris collects over time and hardens into stubborn clogs. Kitchen sinks are especially prone to hot grease congeals and sticks to pipes.

Improper Drainage Slope

Drains are designed to let wastewater flow downward freely. If installed improperly, flat or upwards-sloping pipes impede drainage and cause backups and overflows. Poor workmanship is often the reason behind bad drain slopes.

Sewer Main Line Blockages

If the main sewer line that connects your home to the municipal system gets clogged, every house on the branch will be affected. Only the local utility provider can fix mainline clogs requiring mechanical cleaning or hydro-jetting.

Signs of a Blocked Drain

Watch out for these common red flags that indicate a drain blockage:

1. Slow Draining Water

The most obvious sign is if water drains abnormally slowly out of sinks, tubs, showers, or toilets. A partially clogged pipe impedes the wastewater flow. What once took seconds to drain may now take several minutes or not drain out at all.

The severity depends on the location and extent of the clog.

Food buildup and grease are the common causes of blocked drains in the kitchen. Slow gurgling toilets indicate a clogged drain or a main sewer connection. If your bathroom sink suddenly seems sluggish, check the P-trap connections for obstructions first before moving downstream.

2. Gurgling Noises

Listen for gurgling sounds from sink, tub, or shower drains as water goes down. It happens when wastewater attempts to pass clogged portions of the pipe.

Gurgling noises from toilet bowls can indicate a main sewer clog. A loose flap at the wax ring seal can also sometimes cause gurgles.

3. Foul Sewage Odours

Odours indicate decomposing debris buildup needing removal. If you smell rotten egg or sewage odours from drains or near external cleanouts, it’s a sign of pipe blockages.

The clear drains cause the wastewater to flow freely to the sewer or septic system. However, congested drains cause sewage backups, and foul air escapes through drain fittings.

4. Overflowing Sink or Tub

If your bathroom or kitchen sink overflows with standing water, the drain pipe below is likely fully blocked.

The main cause of the blocked drains, which can cause the bathtubs to overflow, is when the main drain gets completely clogged due to a partial obstruction. However, obstructions, like major hair or soap buildup, can quickly clog the bathtub.

5. Pooling Water Around Drains

Check the ground around exterior drainage pipes and indoor drains after heavy rain. If stormwater runoff pools and fails to drain away, underlying drains are obstructed. Leaves, trash, and soil buildup can clog outdoor storm drains; sometimes, indoor floor drains are easily blocked, too.

6. Toilets Taking Longer to Flush

Toilets rely on outgoing water flow to flush away waste. Reduced water volume indicates a partial clog if a toilet takes longer than normal to clear the bowl.

Modern low-flow toilets clog more easily, and you might require professional assistance to find a solution to the cause of the blocked drain to avoid further damage.

How to Unblock Toilets and Drains?

If you are looking for solutions to unblock toilets and drains, here are simple DIY methods that can help to save the day:

1. Fill your blocked toilet bowl full of water and plunge with a hang plunger
2. Place cling wrap over the top of the toilet and flush the toilet to create a pressured force and attempt to push the blockage away.
3. Remove the blockage manually with gloves
4. If this fails call Tight Pipes Plumbing for assistance

By staying vigilant and following these preventative tips, you can help minimize the risk of encountering these common plumbing problems in your Gold Coast home. However, if you do experience a plumbing issue, it’s essential to call a professional plumber to ensure the problem is resolved safely and efficiently.

Don’t let plumbing problems catch you off guard. Schedule a plumbing inspection or maintenance service with Tight Pipes Plumbing & Drainage today! Our expert team is ready to tackle any plumbing issue you may face. Call us now at +61 438 231 807 or visit our website at to book your appointment.

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