Blocked drains can occur anywhere in the home, from your exterior drains to your interior laundry, kitchen and bathroom drain, and the signs are usually fairly obvious. Your outside drains may be overflowing, water is slowly draining away in your laundry tub or shower, or your toilet may be making a strange gurgling sound or the water level rises to the rim when flushed. And it’s important not to ignore the warning signs of sudden flooding from blocked drains can not only damage your property, effluent and wastewater can become a health risk to yourself and others.
Time to put on that DIY hat right? Well … not always. When it comes to plumbing issues, some tasks can, of course, be tended to yourself, however, it’s important that care is taken to avoid damaging pipes or blocking your drains even further. Here are six of the most common drain cleaning mistakes and how to avoid them.
#1 – Letting Your Drains Get Blocked In The First Place
OK, so one of the first drain cleaning mistakes is actually letting your drains get blocked in the first place. In the kitchen, there a range of things you should never put down your sink, including things like oils, dairy products, coffee grinds and egg shells, and in your toilet, things like paper towels and feminine hygiene products. You should also consider using a drain catcher in the shower to prevent nasty hair clogs.
One of the symptoms of a blocked household drain is the wastewater filling the sink, basin, shower or toilet bowl and slowly draining away. When water goes down a drain it is usually full of bacteria and pathogens, so when it sits within a blocked drain for a prolonged period of time it starts to ferment and smell. Blocked toilet drains are one of the worst offenders in this respect because toilet effluent is a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, which can lead to disease.
Blocked drains can cause diarrhoea and also exacerbate existing conditions like skin complaints, asthma and allergies if you come into contact with it, and of course, they cause nasty odours which are certainly not ideal. Quite simply, prevention is the best way to avoid your drains blocking up.
#2 – Over-Using Chemicals That Can Harm Your Pipes … And Your Plumber!
If you’re looking for solutions in terms of how to clean your drains, there is a huge selection of drain cleaning chemicals on the market all making exorbitant promises, however, unfortunately, most of these won’t help your drains at all and can be a short-term solution. Most cleaners won’t do what they claim to do, and they probably won’t break down the solids that are blocking your drains.
And realistically, if the cleaner isn’t harsh enough to actually dissolve a blockage, it is just sit in the pipe causing further damage if your pipes are metallic. Most of all, these types of drain cleaners are be toxic. Not only to the environment but to anyone who works on your drains in the future, because they can emit fumes and cause dangerous chemical burns.
#3 – Using The Wrong Plunger Or Using It Incorrectly
If you’re looking for a quick-fix solution to a clogged drain, many will turn to the old-fashioned plunger to do the job. But there is a range of plungers out there for different drains, so obviously you need to choose the right one for the right job. Sink plungers generally have a cup or bell-shaped bottom, while toilet plungers flat on the bottom.
There is also a bit of an art to using a plunger. Firstly, you need to have it properly in place with the drain completely sealed, and the plunger should be slowly and methodically worked up and down so that the bottom of the plunger is kept intact on the drain. Plunging too fast is one of the basic plumbing maintenance mistakes. It also may push foreign objects further down the drain, things like kids toys over rim toilet deodorisers
It is ineffective and messy, and it will probably result in dirty water being sprayed in your face! Additionally, it can make things worse creating further problems as the plunger can get stuck.
#4 – Sticking Things Down the Drain That Don’t Belong There
Unblocking a drain can be a tricky process. While to some it might seem like common sense, unbending a coat hanger and sticking it down your drain (or other long, thin objects for that matter) won’t fix the problem because the blockage will probably be too far down the pipe. If a plunger has failed to dislodge a blockage, then you’re not likely to be able to achieve anything by poking around with a metal coat hanger either!
In fact, using objects like these will often push the blockage down further, worsening the problem. They can also damage your drainpipes and if they get stuck, you’re in for an expensive fix.
#5 – Attempting to Unblock Outside Drains With A Garden Hose
You may have seen your friendly local plumber using a pressurized hose as part of the process of unblocking a drain, particularly if it’s an outside drain. However, hydro-jetting (as it’s commonly known) is done with a specialised piece of equipment that’s entirely different to your standard garden hose.
The reality is that the pressure from your ordinary hose probably won’t be sufficient to remove any drain blockages caused by tree roots or foreign objects anyway, and in fact; it could cause flooding, and damage not only your pipes but other surfaces around the drain as well.
#6 – Not Calling In A Professional To Do The Job For You!
Unblocking a drain is not only a messy business, ensuring your entire home’s drainage system operates well is actually critical. Without free-flowing drains, your home can suffer serious water damage that cannot only be costly to repair, it can actually affect the health of you and your family.
Professional plumbers are trained to accurately assess drainage problems, they come equipped with a range of specialised equipment that addresses issues with minimum disturbance, and they’ll fix your drainage problem effectively and efficiently. Make the call!
Is a blocked drain giving you grief? Contact Yarrow Plumbing today on (07) 3277 5742.