Signs of a blocked drain: what you need to look out for

If you’ve never had one, you may not know the signs of a blocked drain. But keeping an eye on your drains can help you stop a minor inconvenience from turning into a plumbing emergency.
We’ve put together a list of the main things to watch out for if you suspect you’ve got a blocked drain, as well as a few simple maintenance tips to keep your drains spick and span.

What are the signs of a blocked drain?

There are a few telltale signs to watch out for when your drain is blocked, as well as a few you may not expect. 

  1. Smell - if you’ve been wondering what that funky smell is coming from your bathroom or kitchen, it’s probably not the new shampoo you’ve started using or the remains of last night’s tea. Blockages can first rear their ugly head in the form of a rotten egg smell. If you don’t act on this ASAP, bacteria will flourish and the smell will continue to worsen. 
  1. Gurgling - noticed a gurgling sound when emptying your sink, running the tap or flushing the toilet? You’ve got a blockage. Particularly in kitchen and bathroom sinks, debris (hair, spaghetti, you name it) accumulates and makes it difficult for the water to pass through. Jump on this one before it becomes a full-blown blockage. 
  1. Slow, or difficulty draining - this is the sign you’re probably most familiar with. When too much debris accumulates in your drain, the water quite simply can’t empty effectively. This may present as slow draining when flushing the toilet or emptying the sink. If your sink or toilet don’t drain at all; it’s time to give us a call
  1. Sinkholes - food, hair and debris aren’t the only things that can block your drains. You may not have thought of this, but tree roots are the leading causes of blockages and tend to go unnoticed the longest. If you live on the North Shore, you’re especially susceptible to tree root damage from the Camphor Laurel trees so this is definitely something to be aware of. Signs that you might have a tree root problem can present as wet patches or sinkholes in your backyard. If one section of grass is growing really well, it’s not a sign of your superior lawn skills, rather, it means there’s water where there shouldn’t be. Tree roots can cause significant damage so if you suspect you’ve got a problem, we’ll come take a look

How to avoid a blocked drain

There are a few safe, simple things you can do to keep your drains clean and prevent blockages. 

  1. Avoid food scraps - it’s tempting to push the remains of last night’s spaghetti bol down the sink instead of fishing it out, however food scraps can quickly accumulate to cause a blockage. Pouring fat and grease down the sink can also speed up the blocking process.
  1. Use gentle cleaners - to keep on top of your drains, simple household items like vinegar, bicarb soda and hot water can work wonders. Bicarb soda is a gentle cleaning agent that can help to keep nasty odours out of your drains. Coupled with a cup of vinegar left for half an hour, you can minimise any debris in your drain. Follow it up with some hot water as a rinse. 
  2. Be careful of harsh cleaners - it’s best not to muck around with the harsh cleaning products from the hardware store. These have powerful ingredients which can actually be harmful to your health if you don’t apply them correctly. If you suspect you’ve got a problem, leave it to the experts

It’s important to act on your drain blockages before they become plumbing emergencies. If you suspect you’ve got a problem, our friendly STS team will be happy to inspect, diagnose and quote for all your plumbing needs. Just give us a call

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