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 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!