All the drains around your home are susceptible to blockages. The signs of a blocked drain are often obvious and include things like slow draining water, gurgling pipes, unpleasant smells or the toilet not flushing correctly. While some drainage issues are inevitable – such as those caused by old, deteriorating metal or clay pipes – many homeowners unintentionally contribute to blocked drains. The actions taken by a homeowner once they discover a blockage can also make the situation worse. Here are some of the main mistakes that homeowners make when it comes to blocked drains.

Mistake #1 flushing wet-wipes down the toilet

Wet-wipes are a major cause of blocked drains in Australia, and in other major cities around the world. Producers of wet-wipes are largely to blame for inaccurate marketing around “flushable” wet-wipes. The fact is, that even flushable wet-wipes can cause big problems for your sewerage system. Unlike toilet paper which breaks down easily in water, wet-wipes are more durable. When wet-wipes come into contact with grease in the pipes, they clump together forming “fatbergs”. Fatbergs larger than a bus have been pulled out of London’s sewerage systems.

Mistake #2 pouring oil and grease down the kitchen sink

Because of its liquid form it may seem logical to pour oil down the kitchen sink. However, fats, oil and grease are a major contributor to blocked drain pipes. If you’ve ever seen a jar of coconut oil on a cold day you will know that it is quite solid. The same thing happens to oil inside the drain pipes. As it cools down, the oil coagulates. It coats the lining of pipes, building up over time until the pipe becomes completely clogged. As mentioned above, grease can also act as a binding agent with other items in the pipes, such as wet-wipes or sanitary items.

Mistake #3 failing to maintain your gutters and downpipes

When it comes to stormwater drains, a common cause of blockages is from sediment that has washed down from the gutters and downpipes. If you don’t maintain your gutters, all of the leaves, sticks and sediment can wash into the stormwater drain. The sludge sits in the bottom of the pipes, accumulating over time. To avoid blocked stormwater drains on your property, it’s important to regularly have your gutters cleaned out.

Mistake #4 planting trees too close to sewer and stormwater pipes

Most people don’t consider the sewer or stormwater systems when planting trees in the garden. They are more concerned with the aesthetics, than the impact it could have on their drains. Tree root infestations inside plumbing pipes can be costly and complex to resolve – depending on the extent of root growth. Tree roots are attracted to moisture inside the sewer and stormwater pipes and their roots can penetrate even the smallest cracks or loose joints in the pipes. If you’re thinking about adding new plants to the garden, make sure you plant them as far away from the plumbing pipes as possible, and choose varieties with less aggressive root systems.

Mistake #5 attempting to fix blocked drains using harsh chemicals

Many homeowners reach for a bottle of store bought drain cleaner when they discover a blocked drain in the home. Chemicals are problematic for a number of reasons – they’re bad for the environment, they are dangerous to use and they can also make the problem worse. Without a CCTV drain inspection, it is difficult to ascertain the cause of a blocked drain. If you pour chemicals down a drain pipe that has a severe clog, not only are the chemicals unlikely to unblock it, the chemicals will sit in the pipes gradually corroding them.

Mistake #6 using the wrong kind of plunger

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all plunger for blocked drains in your home. A cup plunger is designed specifically for sinks while a flange plunger is required to unclog a blocked toilet. This is because a sink drain and a toilet drain are completely different in terms of shape and size. It’s important to get the correct plunger so that you can get a good seal around the drain opening. If you don’t have the right tool it will be harder to dislodge the clog.

Guest blog by Jason Bonnano at JAB Plumbing Solutions