Burns Plumbing

How to Clear Blocked Drains Like a Sewage Drain

Clearing a blocked sewage drain can be daunting but understanding the right techniques and when to call for professional help can make the process smoother. Whether it’s a simple clog in your kitchen sink or a more significant blockage in the main sewer line, each situation requires a specific approach. This guide offers insights into effectively dealing with blocked drains, emphasising DIY methods while recognising the signs that necessitate a professional plumber like Burns Plumbing’s expertise.

Signs of a Blocked Sewage Drain

Recognising the early signs of a sewage drain blockage can prevent a minor issue from escalating into a major plumbing crisis. Paying attention to how your drains behave can offer critical insights into the health of your sewage system. Here’s what to look out for:

Slow Draining Water

When water starts draining slowly from your sink, toilet, or shower, it often indicates a developing blockage in your plumbing system. This gradual decrease in drainage speed is one of the most common signs of a clogged pipe, suggesting that debris, grease, or even tree roots may be impeding water flow.

Gurgling Noises from Drains

A clear sign of a drain problem is unusual gurgling sounds coming from your pipes. These noises occur as air, trapped by the blockage, is pushed through the water, creating audible disturbances. It’s a telltale signal that your sewage system needs attention.

Foul Odours

Persistent bad smells emanating from your drains can point to a sewage blockage. As waste materials build up inside the pipes, they begin to decompose, releasing unpleasant odours. This symptom indicates that it’s time to clear blocked drains before the issue worsens.

Water Backup

Water backing up in your toilet bowl or kitchen sink indicates a severe blockage in your sewage system. When flushing the toilet causes water to rise rather than drain, it’s a clear sign that the sewage drain is blocked, potentially affecting the entire plumbing system.

Common Causes of Blocked Drains

Blocked drains, especially those affecting the sewage system, can cause significant plumbing problems in any household. Understanding the common causes of these blockages is the first step towards maintaining a clear and functional sewage drain. Here are some of the primary reasons your drains may be suffering:

Flushing Inappropriate Items

One of the leading causes of blocked drains is the flushing of items that the sewage system is not designed to handle. Items such as wipes, sanitary products, and even excessive toilet paper can lead to a blocked sewage drain, creating clogs that are challenging to remove without professional help.

Accumulation of Grease and Fat

Grease and fat from kitchen activities can accumulate in the sewage system over time, solidifying and causing significant blockages. Pouring hot water down the drain can sometimes mitigate this buildup, but repeated offences will likely require more intensive cleaning methods, such as the use of chemical drain cleaners or a professional plumber’s intervention.

Tree Root Intrusion

Tree roots seeking moisture can intrude into PVC pipes and cause a sewage blockage. This natural intrusion disrupts the sewage flow and can cause extensive damage to the sewage system. CCTV drain inspections are often used to diagnose this problem, allowing for targeted removal of the blockage and repair of the pipes.

Structural Damage to Pipes

Over time, sewage pipes may suffer from structural damage due to shifting soil, construction activities, or natural wear and tear. This damage can lead to blocked pipes, requiring significant repairs or even replacement of the affected sections. In these cases, removing the blockage often involves clearing the clogged area and conducting repairs or pipe relining to restore proper function to the sewage system.

DIY Ways to Clear a Blocked Sewer Drain

Clearing a blocked sewer drain doesn’t always require professional help right away. Several DIY methods can effectively address common blockages, offering simple ways to restore your sewage system’s functionality. Here are some tried and true techniques:

Using a Plunger

A plunger can be an effective tool for clearing minor blockages in your sewage drain. By creating a seal around the drain opening and using forceful plunges, you can often dislodge the blockage, allowing water to flow freely again. This method is particularly useful for toilets and drain openings that can accommodate the plunger’s shape.

Applying Boiling Water

Pouring boiling water down the drain is a straightforward approach to melt grease and fat that have solidified inside your pipes. This method can clear a clogged drain caused by kitchen waste and is a first-line solution for grease-related blockages.

Creating a Baking Soda and Vinegar Mixture

A baking soda and vinegar mixture acts as a natural chemical drain cleaner, offering a non-toxic alternative to clear blocked pipes. The fizzing reaction helps to break down organic material, making this DIY drain snake solution suitable for removing soft blockages without damaging PVC pipes.

Utilising a Plumbing Snake

For tougher clogs deeper within the sewage system, a plumbing snake or drain auger can navigate through pipes to remove the blockage. This tool allows you to physically break apart or retrieve debris causing the sewage blockage, providing a more direct approach to unblock a drain.

Implementing a Wet and Dry Vacuum

A wet and dry vacuum can be adapted to suck out blockages from a sewage drain. By creating a tight seal around the drain and setting the vacuum to wet mode, you can attempt to draw the blockage out, which can be an effective way to clear blocked pipes when other methods fail.

Trying a Drain Cleaning Hook

A drain cleaning hook, often a simple, flexible tool, can be inserted into the drain to fish out hair, fabric, and other debris causing a blocked sewage drain. This method is particularly useful for removing accumulations near the drain opening.  

Using Chemical Cleaners to Unblock Sewage Drains

When faced with a blocked sewage drain, chemical drain cleaners can offer a powerful solution to dissolve the blockage. These cleaners, especially caustic cleaners, are formulated to break down the organic material that typically clogs pipes, such as grease, hair, and other debris. While effective, it’s essential to use these products carefully, as they can be harsh on your plumbing system and the environment. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consider the material of your pipes—PVC pipes, for instance, may require specific types of cleaners to avoid damage.

The Role of CCTV in Diagnosing Blocked Drains

CCTV drain inspections have become an invaluable tool in accurately diagnosing the causes of blocked drains. By inserting a camera into the sewage system, plumbers can visually inspect the inside of the pipes to identify the exact location and nature of the blockage. This technology allows for targeted interventions, whether it’s removing tree roots that have invaded sewer pipes or addressing structural issues causing sewage blockages. CCTV inspections can save time and money by eliminating guesswork and allowing for precise repairs.

Preventive Measures to Avoid Blocked Sewer Drains

To avoid the hassle of blocked sewer drains, adopting certain preventive measures is crucial:
  • Regular Inspections: Schedule annual inspections of your sewage system to identify potential problems before they lead to blockages. CCTV drain surveys are particularly useful for this.
  • Dispose of Waste Properly: Avoid flushing items down the toilet that can cause clogs, such as wipes, feminine hygiene products, and excessive toilet paper. In the kitchen, refrain from disposing of grease and food scraps down the sink.
  • Use Drain Strainers: Install strainers in sinks and showers to catch hair, soap bits, and other debris, preventing them from entering your sewage system.
  • Regular Cleaning: Utilise simple ways to clear potential clogs regularly, such as flushing drains with boiling water or using a baking soda and vinegar mixture to maintain clear pipes.
  • Plant Trees Wisely: Be mindful of where you plant trees and large shrubs to prevent roots from growing into your sewage lines, which can cause significant blockages and require extensive repairs.

Professional Plumbers: When DIY Isn’t Enough to Clear a Blocked Drain

There are instances when DIY methods fall short in the battle against blocked drains, signalling the need for professional intervention. Whether it’s due to the complexity of the blockage, the potential for further damage, or simply the inefficacy of home remedies, calling in a professional plumber becomes imperative. These experts bring with them the experience, tools, and knowledge necessary to diagnose accurately and resolve even the most stubborn drain issues. They can also offer long-term solutions and advice to prevent future blockages, ensuring your plumbing system remains in optimal condition. If you’re facing a challenging drain blockage that seems insurmountable with DIY efforts, it’s time to call Burns Plumbing in Sydney. Our team of skilled professionals is equipped to handle all types of plumbing issues, providing efficient and effective solutions to get your drains running smoothly again. Don’t let a blocked drain disrupt your home – contact Burns Plumbing today at (02) 9072 1165 for reliable service you can trust.

FAQ’s on How to Clear Blocked Drains

What are the most common signs that indicate I need to unblock a sewage drain?

Common signs include slow draining water, unpleasant odours emanating from the drain, gurgling sounds, and water backup. These symptoms suggest a sewage blockage that needs immediate attention.

How can I prevent my drains from getting blocked in the first place?

Preventive measures include regular cleaning of the drains, avoiding flushing inappropriate items that can cause blocked pipes, and installing drain strainers to catch debris. Regular inspections of the sewage system can also identify potential problems early.

Can boiling water alone effectively clear a blocked drain?

Pouring hot water down the drain can be an effective method for dissolving grease and soap buildup in PVC pipes, offering a simple way to clear minor blockages. However, more stubborn clogs may require additional methods.

What should I do if DIY methods don’t clear the blocked sewer drain?

If DIY methods like using a plunger, a DIY drain snake, or chemical drain cleaners don’t remove the blockage, it’s advisable to consult a professional plumber. They can use tools like a CCTV drain inspection to diagnose the issue accurately and resolve it efficiently.

When is it essential to call a professional plumber for a blocked drain?

It’s essential to call a professional plumber when you’re dealing with recurrent blockages, sewage backflow, or when DIY solutions fail to unblock a sewage drain. A professional can address the root causes of blocked drains, ensuring a lasting solution.

Are chemical drain cleaners safe to use for all types of plumbing to unblock a sewage drain?

While chemical drain cleaners can be effective for clearing certain types of clogs, they should be used cautiously, especially with PVC pipes which may be damaged by caustic cleaners. Always follow the product instructions and consider using them as a last resort after trying other ways to clear a blocked drain. For persistent or complex blockages, a professional plumber like Burns Plumbing can provide safer and more effective solutions without risking damage to your sewage system.

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