Unblocking the Flow: Solving the Mystery of the Blocked Sewer Pipe

Signs of a blocked sewer pipe typically arise out of nowhere. You might notice slow drainage, gurgling sounds from drains or toilets, foul smells, or worse still, water pooling around the sewer point. Not only can a blocked sewer cause wastewater to back up into your home posing health hazards and property damage risks, it can also result in expensive repairs if left too late.

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Blocked Drains? They Are HIGH Priority

If you have a blocked drain or sewer it is a high priority. A damaged, broken or blocked sewerage system is a health & safety issue for your family, neighbours & the environment & needs to be attended to immediately. That is why at Salmon Plumbing we provide a prompt response & an effective solution.

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Put the store-bought drain cleaner down and back away slowly.

Listen, we know that a clogged drain isn’t fun or friendly.

Whether it’s a monster hairball, uneaten veggies, a failed bread-making project, or something else entirely, we know you just want to get rid of it ASAP.

But the truth is, those fast-acting, grease-battling, life-changing drain cleaners are actually doing more damage to your home or business’ plumbing system than good – and here’s how.

Continue reading “Put the store-bought drain cleaner down and back away slowly.”

3 ways to clean clogged hair and other gunk from your shower drain

At Salmon Plumbing, we’re familiar with the stress of a clogged drain during a nice, hot shower.  

We also know the frustration that can follow when wrestling with the mass of hair, soap scum and other gunk that’s blocking your water flow just isn’t working!

This is a pretty common problem, so we’ve decided to put together three proFISHional tips from the team at Salmon Plumbing to help you clear your drains and avoid any upset.

  1. Alternate baking soda, vinegar and plunging.

It’s often a surprise when our customers haven’t heard of this one – it’s in every mother’s homecare cookbook!

For this, you’ll need one cup of baking soda, one cup of vinegar, boiling water and a cup plunger.

Then you simply follow these steps:

  • Pour a cup of baking soda down the drain.
  • After that, pour a cup of vinegar down the drain (this should create a chemical reaction that will cause fizzing in your drain).
  • Once the fizzing has died down, wait five minutes and boil some water.
  • Next, pour the boiling water slowly down the drain.
  • Finally, run some water down the drain and start plunging.

The baking soda and vinegar will break up any hair and gunk, and the boiling water helps to pass this waste through the drain, removing the blockage.  The plunging ensures that the blockage is completely dislodged and out of your system.

  1. Remove the drain stopper and use pliers to extract the hair and gunk.

This is certainly the hands-on approach most want to avoid, unfortunately, sometimes it’s necessary if your shower drain is very clogged.

For this, you’ll need a screwdriver, rubber gloves, a torch and needle-nose pliers.

Then, you simply follow these steps:

  • Remove the shower grate from your drain, this is where you may need your screwdriver.
  • Once you’ve got a clear opening to the drain below, shine your torch in it.
  • You should see the hairy culprit sitting in the drain.
  • Put the gloves on and use the needle-nose pliers to pull out the mass in your drain.
  • After removing the gunk, run some hot water down the drain.
  • Finally, reinstall the grate and ensure everything’s working properly.
  1. Use a drain cleaner to get rid of those blockages you can’t quite reach.

We know that a lot of people don’t like this option because of the chemicals that are often found in drain cleaners. We don’t really like them either as a lot of them can hurt our fishy brothers and sisters in the ocean!

Luckily, we’ve found a plumbing pipe cleaning product that contains no chemicals. It’s called the CLR Power Plumber.

It essentially works the same way as a plunger, except without the mess!

To use it, run the water in your shower and allow some water to pool. Then, submerge the cap of the CLR Power Plumber can and place it over the drain opening. Then, press firmly down. This should expand the gas in the can and push the blockage down and out. Then Hey Presto – No more clogged shower drain!

And if all else fails, get on the phone and call your local plumber to sort it out for you.

The team at Salmon Plumbing are available around the clock to support the Brisbane region with their plumbing problems and enquiries.

If you need help, simply dial 07 3862 2600 at any hour of the day and our team will pick up the phone and organise the assistance you need.

For more at-home plumbing tips, or to learn about Australia’s plumbing history, click here to read the Salmon Plumbing blog.

How to Prevent a Moat Around Your House When the Rains Do Hit

Summer is our wet season in Queensland and spring is the ideal time to check the external plumbing around your home. No one wants a moat around their house when the storms and rains inevitably hit.

Here are some checks and maintenance tips you can do around your house to ensure the water flows where it needs to go.

1. Clean your roof and remove debris

The roof is the largest surface area of your home, and it’s the first surface to be hit by rain. Ensure your roof is clean and debris-free so that when the rain does hit, it doesn’t wash accumulated debris through your gutters or downpipes, causing a blockage.

2. Empty gutters of leaf debris

Cleaning your gutters is an important job every spring to ensure there is no leaf litter preventing the water from flowing through each channel to the storm water drains. Leaf matter can break down and congeal in downpipes. This can cause a back-up of water when it storms or rains, and this water has nowhere to go except overflow the edges of the gutters, falling around the house often causing an external flood.

3. Inspect rusty gutters and down pipes and ensure correct fall

Every spring, your gutters and down pipes should be inspected for rust and openings which can cause a water to fall through, instead of being directed away from the home through the existing storm water drainage. Have rusty gutters and down pipes replaced as soon as possible to avoid the drama of an external flood during storm season.

Also check for backfall of gutters. The correct fall ensures the water flows towards the downpipes, not away from them.

4. Inspect storm water grates

Often significant rain events can wash sand and dirt down storm water grates. This needs to be emptied to ensure a free channel of water to flow through when the next rain event hits. Click here to read more about storm water.

5. Ask your plumber to calculate the right number of downpipes for your roof surface area

Some houses just don’t have enough down pipes to meet the capacity of water fall from the surface area of their roof. If you think this is a problem at your property, call Salmon Plumbing out to investigate and offer a solution. This could be an opportunity to add a rainwater tank or two to be prepared for drought.

6. Have the correct sized storm water pipes underground

Most storm water pipes underground around houses are 90mm PVC. Often this pipe is not big enough for the amount of water that flows through the down pipes. Upgrading these pipes can help prevent a moat situation around your house during a heavy rain event.

Keeping gardens maintained and away from storm water grates ensures water can flow to where it needs to go when it matters most.

The external plumbing to your home is vitally important to prevent floods around your house. External floods can cause damage inside your house, by seeping through window and door openings. It’s an inconvenience that can be avoided with the right storm water drainage around your home.

Another health concern to be aware of is any type of pooling of water in gutters and around the home can also attract mosquitoes. The pools of water offer mozzies the the perfect spot to breed. This is a health concern as mosquitoes can spread the Zika Virus and Ross River Fever. Ensuring adequate storm water drainage can prevent mozzies making a home at your home.

If you have a storm water blockage or have concerns about how rain water is channeled away from your home, give Salmon Plumbing a call. Our plumbers can offer solutions so you’re better prepared when the wet weather hits this summer.

What Kids Need To Know About Plumbing to Prevent an Unexpected Call Out

Kids are curious creatures. The simplest of activities like throwing a rock or filling a bucket with sand is a natural part of their play and necessary for their growth and development.

They love to explore and experiment, test boundaries and push all the buttons, eager to see what happens next.

So it’s vitally important we teach our kids about plumbing. There are buttons and pipes and grates and spouts around the home (and even in the extended community like parks) that need to be used with care. Your child may be curious to play with these or use them as part of their play. But it often ends in disaster resulting in an unexpected call out to a plumber, which wasn’t part of the family’s budget for the week.

Here are some things kids need to know about plumbing to prevent an unexpected call out. Most plumbing issues caused by kids can be preventable. These tips as are also important in keeping your child safe.

Teach kids about grates and open pipes outside

The external area around your home will have storm water grates, rain water tanks, downpipes, hose taps and overflow relief gullies.

Down pipes and rainwater tanks are not playground equipment to be climbed on. Any weight on downpipes can disconnect them from gutters.

Grated drains outside like storm water pits or over flow relief gullies (ORG) should not have their grates removed and filled with rocks or garden debris.

Overflow relief gullies are a sewer trap which ensures any blockages on the main sewer line, don’t back up into your house. It’s important these stay clear so they can do as their name suggests, overflow. Any blockages in an ORG, can cause a backup of waste water to the fixtures in your home, like the sink and basins.

Salmon Plumbing has tools to retrieve rocks or foreign matter thrown down the ORG. Sometimes, the rocks can flush down the line requiring high-pressure drain cleaning equipment to blast the blockage away. Teach kids not to lift grates and throw anything down an open pipe. It will cause a blockage and you will need to call a plumber to remove it.

In the local community, there are often creeks or waterways with open storm water pipes.  It’s important to teach kids not to swim or wade in these waters – especially in summer during heavy rainfall. Water can travel fast down these pipes, sucking any solid matter or objects with it. Teach kids to keep away from flooded drains at all times to prevent a fatal accident.

Teach kids what should and shouldn’t be flushed down the toilet

Only the three P’s should be flushed down the toilet. Poo, pee and toilet paper. No toys, no wipes, no playdough, kinetic sand or slime. And only a few pieces of toilet paper at a time – not the whole roll!

Sometimes the toilet can be seen as an automatic rubbish bin, flushing away whatever you don’t want. But our sewer system network is not designed for these items. Any plastics or broken toys should be recycled, donated or put in the bin, not flushed down the toilet.

Teach kids to turn the tap off after every use

Overflowing taps can happen. Even adults can be notorious for multitasking and forgetting to turn a tap off, resulting in an unexpected flood. Teach kids to focus on the job at hand and turn the tap off after use. This can ensure no drips, which can be a drain on your water bill.

Tap spouts aren’t monkey bars

A tap spout is not a monkey bar. It’s self-explanatory, but anything that juts out from the wall can often be viewed as something to climb on or swing from to a child.

Keep fingers away from a draining bath

It’s not common, but it does happen when little fingers get caught down the bath drain. To prevent kids getting their fingers stuck, take them out of the bath BEFORE you pull the plug. Also, place little kids away from the plug end of the bath, to prevent the plug being pulled during wash time.

We love kids, and they truly make the world a better place, but their curiosity can cause unexpected plumbing problems.

If your child has been a bit over-eager with the plumbing in your home, and you need some items retrieved or fixed, give Salmon Plumbing a call.

Top Home Tips for Unblocking Drains

Woman Using Plunger In Sink - unblocking drains brisbane
Woman Using Plunger In Sink

One of the most common – and most unpleasant – home repairs everyone will endure at one time or another is a clogged drain. When left unattended, a clogged drain can cause nasty odours and even flood your home. The good news is that in many instances you can unblock the drain yourself and at little to no expense. One of the first and easiest solutions is to use hot water.

1. The Boiling Water Method

One of the simplest methods of unblocking drains, this method works best for light or small blocks, and it should only be used on metal pipes (if you have PVC pipes, the hot water may melt or soften the joints in your pipes, resulting in unwanted leaks).

The best way to do this is to take a kettle of boiling water and pour it down the sink. Give it a moment or two and then run water from the tap to see if the clog has been removed.

2. The Vinegar and Bicarb Soda Method

The next easiest method of unblocking drains is using something to dissolve the clog. Before buying a commercial drain cleaning product, try making your own with vinegar and bicarb soda.

Take half a cup of bicarb soda and dump it directly into the drain and as far down as you can. Then add half a cup of vinegar to the mix. This will result in a fizzing effect which will help eradicate any grease that may be blocking your drain.

3. The Plunging Method

For this solution, you’ll need a cup plunger and, depending on where the clog is, some duct tape.

If the clog is in the sink or bathtub, take a strip of duct tape and stick it over top of the overflow drain (this prevents the air or water from escaping and sends it instead towards the unwanted clog). Fill the sink with a bit of water and then use the cup plunger to apply steady pulses until you think the clog is removed or when you feel the pressure changing inside of the pipe.

When To Call a Plumber

There is a wide selection of chemical products on the market which are supposed to help unblock drains. But they may be unfriendly to the environment, and can be hazardous to use. They can even make your clogged drain issue even worse.

If none of the above methods helps you remove the clog, it’s a good idea to call the Salmon Plumbing team in Brisbane. Our team of fully qualified and insured plumbers have the equipment necessary to assess the issue and to take care of the clog for you as quickly as possible.

Contact us online or give us a call at (07) 3862 2600.

The Most Common Causes of Blocked Drains and Pipes

As a homeowner or tenant, there are few sights more terrifying than a sink or toilet beginning to back up as the water level inside it rises. But while water rising and overflowing into the room is the common result, the causes of the problem are more varied. Let’s look at some common causes of blocked drains and pipes, and some of the warning signs to look out for.

Warning Signs

By knowing the early warning signs that a drain or waste pipe is on its way to becoming blocked, you should be able to get on top of the problem early and call a plumber before it gets worse. As always, a little prevention is better than a lot of cure!

A sink that drains a lot slower than usual is usually a sign that something might be amiss further down the line. Similarly, gurgling noises that weren’t there before, or knocks and thuds after a lot of water is drained after washing dishes or when the dishwasher or washing machine is draining, are also early warnings to listen out for. An abnormally draining toilet where the water rises first (where it didn’t do this before) or any “washing back” of flushed material is also a warning sign.

Causes of Blocked Drains and Pipes

The two most common causes of blocked drains in Brisbane are tree roots and collapsed drains.
In many of the older areas of Brisbane a lot of the drain lines are old earthenware, or clay pipes. Some of these pipes can be up to 80 years old.

Foreign objects flushed down the toilet can also be the cause of blockages. While toilet paper is obviously dissolvable and fine to go down toilets, there is a far wider range of things being flushed than that.
The most common foreign object to cause blockages is the wet wipes, that are growing in popularity as an alternative or as a supplement to toilet paper in residential and office bathrooms.

blocked drains

Because of their high durability and materials used in them, wet wipes do not dissolve or disintegrate over time, even when wet. That means that when flushed, they clump together at bends and joints in the drain and slowly build up into a dam-like blockage. Other things like sanitary items can also cause problems if they are used and flushed in conjunction with wet-wipes.

In Queensland, an estimated 120 tonnes of wet wipes and debris are removed from sewage systems each year. In Sydney, local councils have been forced to spend over $8 million fixing blockages of this nature.

In the kitchen, food scraps and other solids mixed with grease and oil (which solidify at lower temperatures or when mixed with other substances) are a main culprits of blockages. Kitchen pipes are often much smaller in diameter than other pipes, which means that much smaller amounts of material are needed to cause problems.

Preventing Rather than Fixing A Blockage

If you have seen a slow draining sink or toilet, or have been hearing noises in the pipes, like gurgling or knocking, then you would be well served by calling a plumber to check things out and take a look before a minor cost becomes a major bill. Our friendly, experienced team of professionals at Salmon Plumbing in Brisbane are on hand to inspect your pipes to ensure that they have a clean bill of health!