How to Prevent Blocked Drains at Home

Blocked Drain gross

A blocked drain is one of the most common problems that homeowners may encounter. This occurs when debris, such as food, hair, soap residue and other materials accumulate inside the pipes and prevent water from flowing freely.

As a result, the water may start to drain slowly or may not drain at all, leading to backups and overflows.

Blocked drains can be a nuisance and cause unpleasant odours and unsanitary conditions in the home. In some cases, they can also cause damage to the plumbing system, leading to expensive repairs.

There are various ways to prevent blocked drains, such as being mindful of what is being disposed of down the drain, using drain covers to catch debris, and regular maintenance of the plumbing system.

If a blockage occurs, there are also several DIY methods to try but don’t hesitate to get professional help in the case of a serious blockage.

Man fixes a blocked drain

What Causes Blocked Drains?

There are a number of factors that can lead to blocked drains at home. These include:

  • Build-up of debris: The most common cause of blocked drains is the buildup of debris inside the pipes. This includes food scraps, hair, soap scum, grease and other materials.
  • Flushing inappropriate items: Flushing inappropriate items such as wet wipes, sanitary products and dental floss down the toilet can also cause blocked drains. These items can get stuck in the pipes and create blockages.
  • Tree roots: Tree roots can grow into pipes and cause blockages. This is because tree roots seek moisture and is more common in older homes with clay pipes.
  • Poor pipe installation: Poor installation of pipes or incorrect pipe sizes can also cause blockages. For example, pipes that are too small may become easily clogged.
  • Heavy rainfall: Heavy rainfall can also cause blocked drains as the excess water can overwhelm the system and lead to backups and overflows.
  • Age and deterioration: Older pipes may deteriorate over time, leading to cracks and breaks that can cause blockages.
  • Foreign objects: Foreign objects accidentally dropped or washed down the drain, such as jewellery or toys, can also cause blockages.

Tips for Preventing Blocked Drains

As common as blocked drains are, there are several things you can do to avoid them. As the saying goes – prevention is always better than cure.

Here are some tips for preventing blocked drains:

  1. Be mindful of what you dispose of down the drain – Avoid disposing of food scraps, grease, oil, and other debris down the drain. Instead, use a strainer to catch debris and dispose of it in the garbage.
  2. Use drain covers – Install drain covers on all sinks and tubs to catch hair and other debris before they enter the pipes.
  3. Flush appropriate items – The only thing you should flush down the toilet – other than bodily waste – is toilet paper. Avoid flushing wet wipes, sanitary products, and other non-degradable items that can cause blockages – despite what they might say on the packaging.
  4. Regular cleaning – Regularly clean the drains with a mixture of hot water, vinegar, and baking soda to remove build up and prevent blockages.
  5. Avoid pouring chemicals down the drain – Do not use harsh chemicals to clear blockages as they can damage the pipes and harm the environment. Instead, use natural solutions like baking soda and vinegar.
  6. Check for leaks – Regularly check for leaks in the plumbing system as they can lead to blockages and other plumbing issues.

By following these tips, you can prevent blocked drains and maintain a healthy plumbing system in your home. However, if you do experience a blockage, it is best to contact a professional plumber to safely clear the blockage and avoid causing further damage to the pipes.

Woman having trouble with blocked drain

DIY Methods for Clearing Blocked Drains

If you have a blocked drain, there are several do-it-yourself methods you can try before calling in a professional plumber. Here are five DIY methods you can try to clear a blocked drain:

  1. Boiling water: Boiling water can be an effective and simple solution for clearing minor blockages. Simply pour boiling water down the drain to dissolve and flush away any build-up.
  2. Baking soda and vinegar: Mix a cup of baking soda with a cup of vinegar and pour it down the drain. Let it sit for about 30 minutes and then flush with hot water. The reaction between the baking soda and vinegar can help break down and flush away build-up.
  3. Plunger: A plunger can be used to create suction and push the blockage through the pipes. Make sure there is enough water in the sink or tub to cover the plunger, then cover the overflow drain and plunge vigorously for several minutes.
  4. Drain snake: A drain snake can be used to physically break up and remove the blockage. Insert the snake into the drain and rotate the handle to push it through the pipes until the blockage is cleared.
  5. Enzyme cleaners: Enzyme-based drain cleaners can be effective at breaking down and removing buildup. Follow the instructions on the product and allow it to sit for the recommended amount of time before flushing with hot water.

If none of these DIY methods work, it is best to contact a professional plumber to safely clear the blockage and avoid causing further damage to your pipes.

When to Seek Professional Help

While there are several do-it-yourself methods for clearing blocked drains, there are times when it is best to call a fully qualified plumber. Here are some signs that indicate it is time to call for a professional:

  • Recurring blockages: If you are experiencing frequent or recurring blockages, this may indicate a larger issue with your plumbing system that requires the attention of a professional.
  • Foul odours: Foul odours emanating from your drains can be a sign of a blockage or a more serious problem, such as a sewer line issue.
  • Slow draining water: If the water is draining slowly or not at all, this may indicate a blockage that requires professional attention.
  • Strange noises: Gurgling or bubbling sounds coming from your pipes can be a sign of a blockage or an issue with your plumbing system that requires the expertise of a professional.
  • Multiple clogged drains: If multiple drains in your home are clogged at the same time, this may indicate a blockage in the main sewer line that requires professional attention.
  • DIY methods are not working: If you have tried several DIY methods but the blockage persists, it may be time to call in a professional plumber to avoid causing further damage to your plumbing system.

In summary, if you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, it is best to seek professional help to address the issue and prevent further damage to your plumbing system.

In Conclusion

Preventing blocked drains at home is all about being mindful of what you put down your drains, regular cleaning, and identifying and addressing any issues as soon as possible.

By following the tips outlined above, such as avoiding disposing of food scraps, using drain covers, regular cleaning, and avoiding pouring chemicals down the drain, you can prevent blocked drains and maintain a healthy plumbing system in your home.

Remember, if you do experience a blockage, it is best to contact a professional plumber to clear it safely and avoid causing further damage to your pipes.

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 23 Hour Plumbing’s Terms & Conditions here.

Last Edited on: 19th September 2023

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