Some of the common causes of a blocked drain are:
Fat blockages occur in kitchen sink pipework. It is a common practice for some people to wash the fat from a frying pan down the sink. As the fat travels down the pipe it cools and solidifies and over time the fat builds up and causes the pipe to become blocked.
Using an electric eel to try and clean a fat blockage in pipes is a waste of time. Because fat is so sticky, when the metal rod from the electric eel is pushed down the pipe the fat just sticks to the inside of the pipe and cannot be physically pushed down the pipe. A Gold Coast plumber will need to use a high pressure water jetter to clean the pipe. The high pressure water is used to dislodge the sticky fat and blast it out of the pipe to clear the blockage. Sometimes a grease release additive or hot water is also used in the jet rodder.
Excess toilet paper flushed down a toilet can sometimes cause the toilet to block up. This is usually considered a minor blockage and can often be cleared by plunging the toilet. A plunge will help the excess toilet paper to be dislodged and then continue moving down the pipe with a few flushes of the toilet.
Children seem to love flushing toilets. And it is exciting to see a small car or toys placed in the toilet and then magically disappear when the button is pressed. Any item apart from toilet paper that is flushed down a toilet can create a blockage. Even items such as ‘flushable wipes’ do not break apart easily and can get caught on a rough edge of the pipe and create a blockage.
People often think that tree roots could not be the cause of their blocked drain because there are no large trees in their property. Unfortunately tree roots can travel very large distances, so it is possible for the roots from your neighbour’s tree to penetrate your pipes.
Particularly in times of low rainfall or drought tree roots will seek out the nearest source of water and food, which can often be your sewer or storm water pipes. Any small crack or break in a pipe, or even badly glued joints can be an entry point for a tree roots to access your pipes and thrive on the constant water and food source.
An electric eel can be used to pull tree roots out and clear the blockage. But the method of using an electric eel doesn’t usually remove all the tree roots, but merely ‘punches’ a hole through the roots, leaving the surrounding roots behind. A water jetter or jet rodder is a much better tool for removing tree roots, as the high pressure water can cut out all of the roots and flush them down the pipe. If all the tree roots are removed, the roots are less likely to grow back in a short period of time.
It doesn’t matter if it is a small or large break in your sewer pipe, both can allow fine tree roots to enter the pipe and grow quickly. Once tree roots gain access to the constant food source of sewer and water they can grow very quickly and completely engulf the inside of your pipe creating a blockage.
A large break in a drain pipe can allow dirt from around the pipe to fall in and either block the pipe or create a sink hole as the dirt is constantly washed down the pipe. A sink hole (where the ground collapses) that is close to a Gold Coast house and its footings can cause significant damage to the structural integrity of the building. It can also create further damage such as cracked walls, severed pipes and in severe situations part of the house can fall into the hole.
If pipes are laid too close to the surface or not surrounded with sufficient gravel or sand, they can easily break when heavy machinery such as a car, truck or excavator travel over the ground. If the pipe is partially or fully crushed then small obstacles or excessive toilet paper can easily get caught and cause the pipe to back up and cause a blockage.
When pipes are laid in the ground they need to have a minimum fall which will depend on the relevant Australian Standard. (ie. 20mm fall within a 1m length of pipe). If there is no fall or the fall is not adequate, then the water will not flow fast enough down the pipe, causing paper etc to sit on the bottom of the pipe and build up creating a blockage.
Unfortunately when a pipe has been laid under the ground with inadequate fall the problem will keep occurring until the pipe is replaced or re-laid with the minimum required fall.
Strangely enough a common question is “Can you remove concrete from inside a pipe?” It is not uncommon for people to move into a newly built or renovated house and very quickly get a blocked drain.
This is because a common practice of tilers is to pour the left over grout from their job down the floor waste rather than dispose of it appropriately. The grout / concrete then settles at the bottom of the pipe and sets hard leaving the pipe partially blocked. The affected area of pipe is often located below the concrete slab of the house and the blocked area of pipe not able to be dug up easily.
Depending on the severity of the blockage either a suitable jet rodder or a robotic cutter will need to be used to remove the concrete within the pipe.
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