No one wants blocked bathroom drain pipes. While there’s not much you can do about your neighbour’s tree roots silently invading your stormwater or sewer pipes, or underground earth movement that cracks your drains, there are definitely some simple ways to keep your bathroom pipes working properly by keeping the cleanliness hub of the home in tip-top working order.
In this article we explain some simple tips.
Take care with what goes into the toilet bowl
Toilets are meant for organic human waste, water and very thin tissue paper – and that’s really about it. They are not depositories for dental floss, hair clippings, disposable wipes (as even so-called flushable wipes are not nearly as flushable as they claim to be) sanitary products, nappies, thick kitchen paper towels, condoms, toy soldiers or the host of other things that seem to wind up blocking sewer pipes or trapped in sewage treatment facilities.
Make sure those in your household (including guests) are made aware of what can and can’t be flushed, and if necessary put up a sign to remind everyone. It may seem a bit ‘bossy’ but many people have some very different ideas about what is and isn’t ok to flush – often based entirely on what their parents used to do. Young children might also forget or be confused, so picture signage can help them to help you avoid a costly repair bill.
Keep hair out of your bathroom drains
One of the most common causes of blockages in shower, bath and wash basin drains is human hair. Shaving in the shower, washing our hair in the bath or even brushing our hair over the vanity can mean thousands of strands of hair build up in the pipes over time and other substances such as grease or larger particles can become entangled in the hair, forming an unpleasant clump. As soon as you see signs of hair clogging pipes (such as slow drainage of the bath water) dig around the plug hole and see if you can pull any strands of hair out. Often there is a large clump hanging just below the plug hole which you can pull out. If that fails, use a plunger to try to bring the hair up and wherever possible, install strainers or a hair snare in the sink or drainage holes.
Don’t put anything oily down the wash basin, shower or bath drains
Oil doesn’t mix with water, and if it cools in pipes it solidifies and starts forming barriers to the flow of water. These barriers can eventually break or split pipes and cause blockages. Even the oil that makes its way successfully through your own drain pipes will eventually find its way into catchments and waterways, resulting in environmental degradation. Large accumulations of oils and other non-degradable waste that incorrectly enters our sewer systems can even lead to the formation of fatbergs which can shut down sewage treatment infrastructure. Things like face creams, body lotions, hair treatments, baby oil and certain makeups contain a lot of oil and should be disposed of in waste bins.
Avoid pouring hot water directly into bathroom drain pipes
Whilst having hot water go down the drain can sometimes be helpful in dislodging solidified grease that may be trapped there, pouring extremely hot water directly into plastic pipes can lead to them softening or even melting. Doing this repeatedly can result in the pipes eventually splitting, so leave boiling hot water to cool a little before putting it down the pipe.
Use bath bombs rarely or put them in a nylon cover
Bath bombs may turn your simple bath into a luxury, but just be aware that they often contain oils and salts which won’t dissolve in water. Some of the more fancy bombs you can get also contain flower parts, glitter and even sparkling tiny stars, none of which are good for your drainage pipes. Whilst putting the bomb into a nylon cover won’t stop the oils and salts from entering your drains, it will hold back some of the other ingredients, and if you are a regular BB-user, using such a cover is really common sense.
Avoid harsh chemical cleansers – use baking soda
Making your own drain cleaner is easy and if used once a month will help ensure small build-ups of scum and oils are removed before they become major headaches. They are also better for your pipes and the environment than harsh, chemical cleaners.
Simply pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Allow it to sit there for a few hours before use. The vinegar and soda create a bubbling enzyme that eats away at the grease.
Avoid planting water-hungry trees near you sewer drains
While it will take a few years, eventually the roots from thirsty plants will search out water, especially during dry periods. Hair-thin strands of plant root can find their way into sewer pipes through joins or tiny cracks and once in, the root will often thrive on the constant supply of water and nutrients, eventually cracking the pipe wide open, leaving raw sewage to seep into groundwater and possibly backing your whole system up to overflow.
Check where your sewer runs and keep that area plant free.
Bathroom blocked drain solutions
These simple, inexpensive steps can help give your domestic drain pipes extra years of life and save you from hefty repair costs. If pipe repairs are needed, however, you should carefully consider what the best strategy is for you.
Essentially there are two ways to repair broken or damaged drainage pipes in your bathroom. These are:
- relining the pipe with advanced composite resins (no dig plumbing)
- traditional pipe repairs (where everything is dug up and replaced).
For more information on these alternatives, see our article Help! My plumber wants to dig up my bathroom. As explained in the article, digging and replacing may initially appear to be the cheaper option. Then you include the cost of cutting through tiles and concrete, and the refurbishment bill after the repairs are completed. Relining the pipe internally with a new strong, composite resin liner is usually the most cost-effective and by far least disruptive pipe repair method available.
To get a no-obligation quote on relining your damaged pipes, get in touch with us via our contact page.