A well-maintained drain is the first step towards proper waste disposal and a hygienic household.
A blocked drain is sure to create havoc in the house as it disrupts our daily chores and causes potential structural damage if not treated immediately. Unlike everyday plumbing issues, a blocked drain usually escalates to broken toilets, overflowing basins, leaking sinks, and much more.
More often than not, a blocked drain results from a malfunctioning main drain. And, this is a problem that needs a professional eye. However, a little caution goes a long way in avoiding inconvenient situations caused by a blocked drain.
Preventing Blocked Drains
What Causes A Blocked Drain?
Blocked drains can have multiple causes, and it’s often difficult for a layperson to pinpoint the root cause. Nowadays, most plumbing companies use CCTV inspection to detect blockages and defects in pipes and other hard-to-reach areas. Let’s take a glance at some of the common culprits of a blocked drain…
- Tree Roots
Tree roots are the most common deterrents to a free-flowing drain pipe. This is because trees can travel up to 20 meters in search of water. So, in case of water shortage, tree roots can detect even the smallest hole or crack and squeeze in.
Once inside, the roots absorb water and expand, thereby clogging and sometimes even breaking the drain pipe.
- Food And Grease
Kitchen sinks and drains are prone to getting blocked by food scraps coupled with fats. While you may not dunk food straight into the sink, dishwashing causes leftover food material and residue to get washed down the drain.
On top of that, the grease in most dishes solidifies the food waste and worsens the blockage.
- Hair And Soap
Adding to the previous point, soap is nothing but a dollop of fats! When mixed with water, it forms soap scum which stains the bathroom floor and clogs the drain.
To make matters worse, hair also gets mixed with soap. This stubborn combination gets stuck to pipes and causes blockages that need more than just a DIY baking soda solution.
- Fibrous Hygiene Products
Wet wipes, cotton makeup removers, toilet rolls- all of these can block your drains. Even if they are “flushable!”
Although most brands sell their hygiene products as biodegradable and flush-friendly, the particles take quite a long time to break down completely. And by that time, the drainpipe is already clogged with heaps of such products.
Early Signs Of Damage
Time and tide wait for none, and neither does a blocked drain! So, it is best to act quickly during the early stage of trouble. Here’s a list of some of the tell-tale signs you should watch out for…
- Slow Drainage
Water pooling in the basin and bath is usually the first sign of a drain that’s clogged with hair and kitchen waste. While it may not cause much trouble initially, this is the stage when you should either try using a chemical cleaner or contact a plumber.
- Bad Odor
Since the accumulated waste has no way out, it starts decaying, resulting in a pungent odor. So, if you notice the bathroom or the kitchen sink smelling funny, you must get the drains checked.
- Gurgling Sounds
Do you often wake up to loud gurgling sounds in the middle of the night? No, your house is not haunted! It’s just the blocked pipes struggling to push the waste material towards the main drainage system.
- Blocked Toilet
With slow drainage and low water levels, the toilet is bound to get blocked. In the worst-case scenario, you may even end up with a broken toilet. Now, that’s scarier than a haunted house!
Easy Ways To Prevent Blocked Drains
Although most plumbing issues should be handled professionally, some minor defects can be fixed at home, too. If the blockage is not too deep and recognized early, it will likely get fixed with some tools and chemical cleaners. Let’s take a look at some quick and easy ways to tackle a blocked drain…
- Use A Fat Trap/ Strainer
Anything that catches small particles is ideal for preventing blocked drains. You can either get a stainless steel strainer or a lined, disposable trapper for your kitchen sink to keep the gunk away.
For bathrooms, a shower strainer effectively reduces the possibility of ending up with noisy, congested pipes. However, ensure that you clean both kitchen and bathroom strainers regularly.
- Pour Hot Water
If your kitchen drain is more prone to getting clogged, try pouring boiling water into the sink every week. This will melt the oil and food particles stuck in the pipes and help prevent major blockages.
- Install A Garbage Disposal
A garbage disposal fits under the kitchen sink and shreds food scraps into tiny pieces which can easily go down the drain. You can run cold water while the garbage disposal is on for smooth functioning.
Pouring ice once in a while will also help scrape off grease build-up.
- Use A Dustbin In The Kitchen
Sometimes we dunk liquids or pastes into the kitchen sink without a second thought. While the fluid texture may look harmless, it mixes with fats and tiny food particles, forming large chunks of waste. Plus, oily substances are quick to solidify.
Hence, it is essential to have a waste bin in the kitchen for proper disposal of leftover food and cooking oil.
- Do Not Flush Wet Wipes
No matter how small a hygiene product is, never flush it down the toilet. While these may easily get swallowed in, the plastic used in such products does not decompose. Such a blockage can even damage your main drain and sewer system.
- Make A DIY Cleaner
Sometimes store-bought chemical cleaners can be too harsh and damage the lining inside pipes. So, if your drains tend to get clogged quite often, try using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda. Follow it up with a jug of boiling water.
This homemade concoction works well with kitchen drains and can help unclog minor blockages in the bathroom, too.
- Use A Plunger
A plunger is a must-have in the kitchen and the bathroom as it is a quick and effective solution for minor blockages. It creates a strong vacuum and causes a rapid flow of water, dislodging the waste build-up.
However, one must be careful while using a plunger. If you put too much pressure, the seals can get damaged and cause leakage.
- Regular Inspections And Maintenance
Why wait for a problem to occur when you can easily avoid it with regular maintenance? It may sound like an unnecessary expense but think about the huge repair bills you will incur once the damage is done.
Thus, a plumbing inspection by a licensed and trained expert is the best solution to repair present blockages and prevent them from recurring. Only a professional plumber knows the best technique and owns the right equipment to fix the issue once and for all.
Common electronic equipment used by plumbers include HD CCTV drain cameras, hydro jet cleaners, electric eels, and so on. Additionally, they know which chemical cleaners work the best for each type of plumbing problem. Some plumbers may even be kind enough to share their tips and tricks with you to prevent blocked drains.
Besides hindering our daily routine, a blocked drain poses a major threat to our health and hygiene. Hence, you should never ignore the warning signs. With quick action, you can easily avoid structural damage at home and safeguard your family’s health.
With that, we come to the end of this informative guide. We hope the preventive measures mentioned above will help you unblock your drains and avoid high repair bills.