What to Do if You Have a Blocked Drain Outside
An outside drain, often referred to as an exterior or outdoor drain, is an essential part of your home's drainage system. Unlike inside drains such as your kitchen sink or shower drain, an outside drain is designed to manage water and waste from the exterior of your house.
When it comes to managing your home, maintaining the outdoor drains is essential for smooth operations. However, if your outside drain is blocked, don’t panic. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you unblock it and prevent a future blocked drain.
What is an Outside Drain and How Does It Work?
An outside drain works similarly to an indoor drain. However, rather than just managing water from appliances, outdoor drains handle runoff from rainwater, melted snow, and any outdoor fixtures that generate wastewater. The collected water is then directed away from your house, preventing potential flooding or structural damage.
How is an Outside Drain Different from an Inside Drain?
Despite sharing the common purpose of managing water and waste, outside drains differ from inside ones in a few crucial ways. For instance, unlike indoor drains that primarily deal with water, food debris, and minor blockages, outdoor drains handle a lot more.
They deal with leaves, garden detritus, soil, and sometimes even roots from nearby trees, which can cause severe blockages.
Moreover, while blockages in indoor drains often cause immediate and noticeable problems such as a blocked sink, clogged shower, or clogged drain itself, outdoor drain blockages can persist unnoticed until they cause significant issues.
What Causes a Blocked Drain Outdoors?
Blocked outside drains can be a real pain, but understanding the causes can help in both resolving and preventing future issues. Here’s a rundown of the most common reasons behind blocked outside drains:
- Leaves and garden debris: Fallen leaves and other garden waste tend to accumulate over time and can easily clog your outdoor drains, especially during the autumn months when trees shed their leaves. Regularly sweeping up and disposing of leaves and garden debris helps reduce the risk of blocked or clogged drains.
- Soil and sediment: Erosion and heavy rain can wash soil and sediment into your outdoor drains, gradually building up over time and causing blockages. Proper landscaping and drainage can help minimise soil entering your drains.
- Tree roots: Trees near your drains can cause issues as their roots grow in search of water sources, often penetrating through pipes and obstructing their flow. This can lead to severely blocked drains and even structural damage to pipes. Regular inspection and maintenance or, in severe cases, removal of problematic trees is essential to prevent root-related issues.
- Grease and fats: Grease and fats from cooking can solidify and accumulate in the drains when washed down the sink. Proper disposal of fats and grease into a designated container or the rubbish bin can help mitigate this problem.
- Foreign objects: Carelessly discarded items, such as leftover food, sanitary products, wet wipes, or toys, can end up in the outdoor drains and cause blockages. Educate your household to be mindful about what they throw into the drains and practise proper disposal of waste.
- Broken or collapsed pipes: A damaged or broken pipe can prevent proper water flow, causing blockages. This can be due to ageing, tree root intrusion, shifting soil, or corrosion. Regular plumbing maintenance and inspection for signs of damage can help identify and resolve these issues before they escalate.
- Bad plumbing design: Poorly designed plumbing systems with incorrect gradients or inappropriate pipe sizes can result in slow water flow and eventually, blockages. If you suspect problematic plumbing design, seeking professional advice is essential.
Understanding these common causes of blocked outside drains can help you take the necessary steps to prevent and resolve drainage issues. Regular maintenance and vigilance go a long way in keeping your outdoor drains clear and functioning efficiently.
Are There Visible Signs of a Blocked Drain?
If you suspect a blocked outdoor drain situation, it’s essential to spot the signs early. Without further ado, let’s dive into the noticeable indications of blocked drains.
- Slow drainage: This is one of the most obvious signs and often the first one you’ll notice. If your drain is taking longer than usual to clear, there is likely a blocked drain somewhere.
- Foul smell: A blocked drain often produces a strong, unpleasant odour. The accumulation of waste and stagnant water in your drain creates this foul smell.
- Raised water levels: If the water level in your toilet is higher or lower than usual, this could indicate a significant blocked drain outdoors.
- Gurgling sounds: Drains generally don’t make much noise. So, if you hear strange gurgling sounds when the water drains away, this might be a sign of trouble.
- Overflowing drains: A clear sign of a blockage is when water or sewage starts spilling out of your drains. This typically signifies a severe blockage that needs urgent attention.
- Localised wet patches: Wet spots in your garden or water seeping up through paving stones or driveways can be an indication that your outdoor drain is blocked.
- Unusual behaviour when flushing: If water bubbles up into your sink, shower, or bath when you flush the toilet, this can be a sign of a potential blockage.
- Attraction of vermin: An often overlooked but critical sign of blocked drains is the attraction of rats or other vermin towards your property. Vermin are drawn to the smell of stagnant water or sewage.
Remember, the key is early detection. If you spot these signs, getting professional help can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.
When to Call a Professional Plumber
As tempting as it is to try and fix your blocked drain on your own, it’s always the best choice to step back and let the pros handle it.
After all, the complexity and potential severity of outdoor drain blockages would definitely benefit from a professional plumber for unblocking drains.
To begin with, professional plumbers have the right tools and expertise to assess and diagnose the situation accurately. Be it a drain snake, drain auger, or costly hydrojet, they know what’s best for the type of drain blockage at hand.
In severe cases or extreme heat, blockages could lead to broken pipes or, worse, burst pipes. Skilful intervention from a licensed plumber or an emergency plumber could mean the difference between a quick fix and a painfully costly repair or pipe relining job.
Hence, when faced with stubborn drain blockages, do not hesitate to call a professional plumber.
What are the Benefits of Consulting a Professional?
While there’s always a temptation to do it yourself, looking at the perks of hiring a professional for a blocked outside drain might convince you otherwise. Here are more compelling benefits of hiring a professional:
- Proper diagnosis and solutions: A professional plumber understands the system and can correctly identify the cause of the blockage. They’re equipped to determine the best solutions to effectively rectify the problem.
- Skills and expertise: Unblocking drains often requires technical know-how. Professionals have the necessary training and experience to guarantee that the task is done right the first time, saving you time and future costs.
- Effective equipment: Professional plumbers have access to high-tech equipment like drain cameras and water jetters to quickly and effectively deal with blocked drains.
- Preventing future problems: By clearing blocked drains and addressing the root cause of a blockage, a professional plumber can help prevent the recurrence of the problem. They can also give you advice on how to maintain your drains and prevent future blockages.
- Safety: A blocked outside drain can be a health hazard, especially if it’s a sewage drain. Professionals understand the safety measures needed to deal with blocked drains.
- Comprehensive service: Professional plumbers don’t just unblock the drain. They thoroughly inspect your drainage system for any potential issues and provide tips to keep it operating optimally.
- Emergency services: Many professional plumbers offer emergency services, making sure that you can get assistance for blocked drains at any time necessary.
- Savings: While hiring a professional might seem like an expensive undertaking, it can save you money in the long run. Professionals can fix the issue correctly, minimising the possibility of future costly damage.
- Guarantee: Most professional plumbing services provide guarantees on their work. This gives you peace of mind and makes sure that if something goes wrong, they’ll fix it quickly.
Without a doubt, hiring a professional for a blocked toilet or outside drain unblocks a world of benefits. Remember, handling tricky issues yourself might lead to more hassles than solutions. So when in doubt, it’s best to ring the professionals!
Maintaining Your Outside Drain: Prevention is Key
Addressing blocked drains is just half the battle – avoiding these blockages in the first place is vital. Here are some preventive measures you can adopt to keep your outdoor drains in good nick:
- Regular cleaning and inspection: Conduct regular checks for signs of blockages, such as slow drainage or gurgling sounds, and routinely clear any visible debris from the drain hole. Also, use a drain snake or plumber’s snake to loosen blockages.
- Educate your household: Not all materials are suitable for drains. Remind everyone to avoid throwing leftover food, coffee grounds, sanitary products, wet wipes, or any foreign objects down the drains.
- Appropriate disposal of food waste: Done with your meal? Dispose of food scraps in the trash before rinsing your plates in the sink to prevent food debris or a build up of food waste in your outdoor drains. Also, be aware of the kind of food you wash down the drain. Fatty substances, for example, can cause serious grease build up.
- General plumbing maintenance: Look out for signs of damaged pipes, such as damp patches or foul smells, as they can contribute to outside drain blockages. Timely repair or replacement of broken pipes can help prevent severe problems in the long run.
Never Let a Clogged Drain Block Your Day!
Sure, a blocked outside drain might seem daunting at first. However, with appropriate measures and timely intervention, you can manage it professionally.
As always, when in doubt, call a professional plumber. Proper maintenance and prevention will save you the hassle and keep your drains running smoothly.
Remember, a smooth drain equals a smooth day!
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: 24th November 2023