In the wake of heavy rainfall, you may find yourself faced with blocked drains—a common yet serious issue for homeowners in Perth. This scenario can lead to problems such as flooding, property damage, and potential health risks. Understanding how to tackle this issue promptly and effectively can prevent the problem from escalating.
In this article, we explore methods of unblocking drains and more with expert insights from our team at Superior Plumbing—a leading Perth plumbing company known for our expertise in dealing with blocked drains.
#1 Recognise the signs of a blocked drain
The initial step in addressing a blocked drain is identifying the problem. The most common indications of a blocked drain include:
- Slow drainage: After a heavy rain, one of the first signs of a potential blockage is slow drainage. The increased water flow can pick up debris, leaves, soil, or even garbage, which might then get lodged in the pipes. Over time, this material can accumulate and cause the water to drain more slowly than usual. If not addressed, this obstruction can lead to a full-fledged blockage, turning a minor inconvenience into a significant issue.
- Unpleasant odours: A heavy downpour can wash a variety of waste materials into the drains. If these materials become trapped and begin to decompose, they can release unpleasant odours. It’s especially noticeable after periods of heavy rainfall when drains are put under more pressure than usual. When the smell persists even after the rain has subsided, this could be an indication of a blocked drain.
- Gurgling sounds: Heavy rain can introduce more air into the drainage system, which may become trapped by blockages and produce gurgling sounds. These unusual noises signal that water is struggling to flow past the obstruction and is mixing with the trapped air. The frequency of these sounds might increase following heavy rain due to the larger volume of water trying to pass through your drainage system.
- Water or sewage backup: In severe cases of blocked drains, you might experience water or sewage backup in your sinks, toilets, or shower drains, particularly after a heavy rainstorm. The increased volume of water during heavy rainfall can exacerbate existing blockages, causing water to back up. In worst-case scenarios, it can even cause sewage to back up, which presents serious health risks and calls for immediate professional intervention.
- Localised flooding: After a heavy rain, standing water in your yard or near your outdoor drains could indicate a blocked outdoor drain. Outdoor drains are crucial during heavy rainfall as they help direct the large volume of rainwater away from your property. However, the rain can wash leaves, twigs, and other debris into the drains, potentially causing blockages. When these blockages occur, water can’t drain away effectively, leading to localised flooding. This situation should be addressed promptly to prevent further damage to your property and potential infiltration of water into your home.
#2: Apply basic unblocking techniques
Once you’ve confirmed a blockage, you can resort to some primary unblocking techniques. These methods can help dislodge minor obstructions and restore the flow of water:
- Use of a plunger: A plunger can be effective for minor blockages in drains. Select a suitable plunger and ensure the outdoor drain is filled with water before starting to focus the force on the blockage. Position the plunger over the drain to create an airtight seal, a crucial step for effective plunging as it relies on the generated pressure difference. Apply robust plunges and repeat until the water starts to drain normally. If this doesn’t alleviate the blockage, it might be time for additional methods or professional assistance. While a plunger is a simple yet potent tool for surface-level blockages in outdoor drains due to rainfall, for severe or deeply lodged blockages, help from professionals like Superior Plumbing might be required.
- Hand auger or plumber’s snake: A hand auger can reach deeper into the drain than a plunger. It has a long flexible steel rod that can break up the obstruction. Although these can be purchased at hardware stores, homeowners may find it more convenient to call in a plumber that already has this equipment and is adept in using it without damaging the plumbing.
- Drain rods: Particularly useful for outdoor drain blockages, drain rods can be screwed together to reach further down the pipe and dislodge the blockage. Again, homeowners may want to leave this method down to professionals like Superior Plumbing.
- Homemade drain cleaner: A mixture of vinegar and baking soda can be an environmentally friendly way to deal with minor blockages. Pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Wait 15–20 minutes and then rinse with hot water.
#3: Avoid chemical drain cleaners
While it may seem convenient to reach for a chemical drain cleaner, Superior Plumbing strongly advises against this. Chemical drain cleaners can cause more harm than good:
- Pipe damage: Chemical drain cleaners, while effective against blockages, can corrode pipes over time, especially older ones. This corrosion can lead to leaks and potential home water damage. Ignored leaks can turn into larger issues, causing dampness, mould growth, or even structural damage. Worse still, under heavy rain, weakened pipes can burst, creating a plumbing emergency and costly repairs. Consequently, it’s advisable to limit the use of chemical cleaners. Natural methods or professional help are usually safer and more effective for stubborn blockages.
- Health risks: The potent chemicals found in these cleaners can pose serious health risks if not handled with due caution. Misuse or accidental exposure can lead to skin burns, eye damage, or respiratory issues, especially if used in unventilated areas.
- Environmental impact: The harsh chemicals found in these drain cleaners are not only harmful to your pipes but can also pose a significant threat to the environment. When washed down the drain, these substances can contaminate water sources, harm aquatic life, and upset delicate ecological balances. Furthermore, their production and disposal also contribute to environmental pollution. Therefore, the use of such cleaners should be limited, and eco-friendly alternatives should be considered whenever possible.
#4: Engage a professional plumbing service
If the initial unblocking techniques prove unsuccessful, or if the blockage is too severe or complex, it’s time to call in the experts. A professional plumbing service like Superior Plumbing can efficiently handle blocked drains:
- Expert assessment and solutions: Superior Plumbing provides a comprehensive examination of your drains to identify the root cause of the blockage. They employ state-of-the-art technology, such as CCTV drain cameras, to inspect your drains and determine the most effective solution. This could include high-pressure water jetting, a powerful method that uses pressurised water to break up and clear severe blockages.
- Professional equipment and techniques: Superior Plumbing utilises professional-grade tools and techniques that aren’t typically available to homeowners. These include mechanical rodding, hydro-jetting, and drain machines, all designed to tackle stubborn blockages.
- Repairs and replacements: If the blockage has led to pipe damage, Superior Plumbing can conduct necessary repairs or replacements. This could range from minor pipe repairs to full-scale sewer line replacements.
#5: Implement regular maintenance
Regular maintenance is critical in preventing blocked drains. By keeping an eye out for signs of blockages and addressing small issues before they become significant problems, you can mitigate the risk of severe blockages. Superior Plumbing offers regular maintenance services to help you maintain your drains in optimal condition:
- Routine inspections: Regular checks can identify potential issues before they escalate. By using CCTV drain cameras, Superior Plumbing can inspect your drains thoroughly and detect early signs of blockages or pipe damage.
- Drain cleaning: Superior Plumbing offers professional drain cleaning services to keep your drains free from obstructions and debris. This includes the use of high-pressure water jetting to clear out any potential blockages.
- Repair and replacement: If any part of your drainage system is damaged or worn out, Superior Plumbing can perform necessary repairs or replacements. Regular maintenance often includes checking the condition of your pipes and replacing any that are no longer fit for use.
In conclusion, dealing with blocked drains, particularly after a heavy downpour, can be a daunting task. It’s crucial to recognise the signs early, apply basic unblocking methods, and steer clear from harmful chemical cleaners. However, some blockages may be too stubborn or complex to handle without professional expertise.
That’s where Superior Plumbing comes in. With advanced tools, techniques, and a comprehensive understanding of your drainage system, our team is well-equipped to tackle any blockage, no matter how severe. We also offer regular maintenance services to keep your drains in optimal condition and prevent future blockages.
Remember, prevention is always better than cure. Regular maintenance and prompt intervention at the first sign of trouble can save you from potential property damage and costly repairs. If you’re dealing with a blocked drain after heavy rainfall, don’t hesitate to contact Superior Plumbing. Let us take care of your drains so you can enjoy peace of mind, rain or shine.