What causes reoccurring blocked drains and how to fix them

Most of the time, your pipes do their job beneath the surface, keeping things moving unnoticed. It’s usually only when things go wrong – like if your pipes are frequently becoming blocked – that you might start to pay attention. When ignored for too long, small pipe issues can quickly become big, costly problems, so it’s important to keep on top of things and get repairs quickly.

How to know when you have a broken pipe or blocked drain

In your home, pipe issues can result in a blocked toilet, blocked shower drain, blocked sink, or blocked stormwater and sewer drain. While pipes are usually hidden, signs that you have a blocked drain or pipe issue include water backing up, unpleasant smells, water discolouration, a gurgling sound, or visible rising damp or watermarks on your walls.

Another indication that you may have a broken pipe is a dramatic increase in your water bill when your water usage has remained the same. This could be because water is leaking somewhere invisible to the naked eye.

What can cause pipe blockages?

There are a number of reasons you can experience pipe issues within the home. Here are a few of the most common issues we see here at Nuflow.

Tree root intrusion
Growing underground tree roots can find leaking pipe joints or cracked pipes and enter, causing blockages and eventually clogging the pipe. It’s not unusual that roots cause the pipe to collapse and become unrepairable when ignored.

Faulty or damaged pipes from incorrect installation or repairs
Not all pipe installation is created equal, and pipes that weren’t installed or repaired correctly in the first place may experience issues even early in their life cycle.

Deterioration and breakdown of the pipes
Over time, pipes can break down and weaken due to the constant pressure. Some older homes have earthenware or clay pipes which have a limited life expectancy. These pipes crack and break due to various environmental factors and in time will need to be replaced.

Foreign objects in drains
It can be easy to accidentally drop objects down the toilet, like children’s toys, jewellery or keys – while flushing other objects like nappies or baby wipes can also lead to blocked pipes.

Fats, oils and hair deposits
The most common causes of blockages in bathroom sinks are hair and soap scum, while in the kitchen, food scraps and grease can cause clogs.

Movement in the building causing cracks
All buildings naturally move over time, and this can put pressure on pipes and cause them to crack, particularly older pipes.

When to call in plumbing services

Even if you might like to consider yourself quite handy, repairs for plumbing issues are best left to the experts. It’s best to stay on the front foot when it comes to pipe issues and at least get professional advice quickly.

If you think you may have a pipe issue, a great way to investigate is via a drain inspection. Some plumbing specialists have access to state-of-the-art drain cameras. They can attend your home and do a drain inspection of the relevant pipes using a CCTV drain camera. This allows access to the drains without the need for any excavation, and the high definition view means the plumbers can pinpoint the affected areas, and get an accurate diagnosis of the issue.

This process effectively gives the plumber x-ray of your pipes, so they can tell you not only precisely what the issue is, but also the exact location. From there, they can advise the best and most cost-effective solution for repairs and the most suitable plumbing services for your specific issue.

The solution for fixing a blocked drain or broken pipe

To repair broken pipes, the traditional method is to replace the pipe altogether. To do this, a plumber will need to expose the pipe which will likely require cutting through the wall or floor – or if the pipe is outside, it could require major excavation. The length of the affected pipe will then be replaced altogether with a brand new pipe. Once the pipe replacement is complete, you will then need to engage a professional to repair any damage to the surrounding areas, which can be a costly addition to the process.

Another pipe repair option is pipe relining. Innovative pipe relining technology allows a new pipe to be created within an existing pipe, using external access points.

Pipe relining involves expert pipe relining technicians using a hardy, specialist material to reline the pipe, sealing off any cracks and fixing the problem faster and with far less interruption than replacing the pipes altogether. The process starts with cleaning the affected pipes using a high pressure water jet, and then a hardy resin is used to reline the pipes, creating a pipe that’s often even stronger than the original.

Pipe relining not only allows cost-effective repairs that fix the problem the first time, but causes minimum downtime and excavation damage to your home, meaning that the pipe is fixed quickly and without fuss, and you’re able to get on with your day-to-day life.

Want to get an accurate picture of what’s going on inside your pipes and find the most cost-effective solution to any issues? Contact Nuflow to get a drain camera inspection today.

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