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. Try a Drain Snake
Snaking involves using a long bendable coil to hook and grab debris. Feed the coil down the drain and crank the handle to advance it while twisting. Keep working the coil until the clog is cleared.
2. Use a Plunger
Plunging creates suction and pressure to dislodge clogs. Cover the drain tightly with a cup plunger and plunge vigorously for sinks. If you are looking for how to unblock toilets, use a flanged force cup plunger to ensure the flange fully seals the opening.
3. Baking Soda and Vinegar
Mix a cup of baking soda with hot white vinegar and pour down the blocked drain. Let sit for 30 minutes, then rinse with hot water. It is one of the best DIY methods if you are looking to clear drains, as the chemical reaction breaks up the clogs.
When to Call a Professional Plumber?
- Your attempts to unblock toilets failed
- It’s a severe clog, and water won’t drain at all
- The clog causes flooding and water damage
- You suspect the main sewer line is blocked
- It’s a recurring clog that keeps returning
- You lack proper snake or power auger equipment
Whenever Faced with Clogged Drains, Call the Tight Pipes Professionals!
The common causes of blocked drains, like food buildup, tree roots, improper installation, and flash floods, can lead to unsanitary and costly plumbing headaches. You can try DIY methods first, but don’t hesitate to call our professional plumbers if you can’t clear the blockage yourself.