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House & Garden

How To Tell If Your Drains Are Blocked

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A smelly, blocked or gurgling drain is not just an inconvenience, it’s a potential health hazard if left too long. If your drain-flow issues are allowed to develop it can cause mould growth and dirty backflow that can impact your health and take a lot of time to clean up. Getting your drains flowing again comes down to identifying the signs of blocked drains early and taking action straight away.

We’ve outlined the ways you can identify drain issues quickly.

4 Signs of a Blocked Drain

There are four main signs your drain is blocked. Depending on the type of blockade and where it is located in your pipes these symptoms may come slowly and progressively, or hit you all at once:

  • Gurgling Sounds

A common early sign is a loud gurgle or slurping, strangled noise from blocked air escaping pipes. The usual cause of drain noises is a blockage, forcing water to change direction and pace and pushing against pipes in unusual ways. It’s a good sign you have a blockage that needs attention.

  • Foul Smell

If the matter trapped in your drain is organic it will break down and cause a foul smell. This will cause a noticeable and unpleasant odour around your kitchen drain or in your bathroom when you step inside. It might take some work to identify which pipe or drain is blocked if the smell is slight, however, if you are also experiencing other symptoms listed here it will be a lot easier to know which drain is causing issues.

If the smell seems to be coming from multiple locations, call a plumber for advice, you might be experiencing a more serious issue with your main sewage line.

  • Slow Draining

Slow draining can occur in a number of places in your home, including toilets, showers, sinks and bathtubs. Starting out it might just take a little longer to drain than usual, but as the blockage continues to grow you will see water pooling in increasing volumes. Eventually, the blockage in the pipe will act as a plug and prevent water from exiting at all. While it looks harmless enough to have a slow-acting drain, letting it escalate to fully blocked or flooding will leave you with a plumbing nightmare that takes more time and effort to fix.

  • Overflowing

Overflowing drains can be caused by a number of issues; Caked soap and snagged hair are common problems in bathrooms, while oil, fat and food waste can cause blocks in kitchens, and garden materials and dead leaves can wash into outdoor drains. For toilets, overflow is usually from something flushed that doesn't break down, like sanitary items or wipes. Different problems will need different approaches so think about what might be causing the blockage to help decide what approach to take. Just keep in mind that blocks at this level can still be simple to remove, but you might need some professional help and the right tools to get there.

Home fixes are usually suitable to clear blocked drains but they won’t budge every problem. If you know your pipes are old you might have more severe plumbing issues going on with damaged and broken pipes hidden deeper in your plumbing system. Calling a plumber can help you know if your drains are blocked.


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