5 Signs and Causes of a Blocked Drain

Blocked drains can be a hassle to solve, with the issue potentially piling up and becoming a bigger problem to fix in the long run. Your toilet may end up refusing to flush, water might be piling up in your shower or your kitchen sink might not drain, with these problems affecting your drainage system as a whole if left unattended. Sometimes, it may even be necessary to call an emergency plumber if your sinks or toilet are overflowing uncontrollably. There are, however, warning signs to look out for that can indicate you’ve got a blocked drain, meaning you have plenty of time to call in professional help before the issue worsens.

Slow Draining

A properly functioning drain should be able to filter through the water within seconds. In the case of bathtubs and toilets, you should be able to see a whirlpool when the water is draining, a sign of continuous flow. However, if water is draining slower than usual or is accumulating in the shower instead of draining properly, a blocked drain could be to blame.

Bad Smells

If your drains or toilet are emitting a foul smell, it could be because of debris backed up in your pipes. Water, hair and decomposing waste have likely become stuck in the drainage system, creating a foul-smelling mixture that flows through your house.

Strange Noises

When a drain is blocked, the disruption to the water flow will often result in a gurgling sound. This can occur when you’re draining your sink, flushing the toilet or even just taking a shower, indicating that you could be dealing with a blockage.


This is the point where most people realize that there is an issue with their plumbing when their toilet or sink begins to overflow. Because the water can’t flow through the pipes properly, a backflow is triggered, causing the water to rise. This is usually when it becomes necessary to call for emergency help.

So, what exactly can cause all these problems? Here are some of the most common causes of blocked drains:

1 Hair: Hair is one of the most common culprits for causing blocked drains, with a lot of hair getting caught in shower drains when people wash their hair or as they brush their hair over the bathroom sink. If the hair is not cleaned up straight away, it can begin to accumulate and create a bigger problem. To avoid this, a good habit is to clean up your hair as soon as you notice it has shed.

2 Trees and Plants: You may not commonly think of trees and plants as being a cause of blocked drains, but they can cause problems from deep within your plumbing system. Plants are drawn to the moisture and can establish their roots through even the smallest crack in your pipes. Also make sure to clean up any leaves in your outdoor area, to prevent them from blocking the drains.

3 Kitchen Waste: Just like hair builds up in the bathroom, grease and food waste build up in the kitchen sink. Anything that is washed down the sink will build up in the pipes until the water can no longer flow. Avoid washing chunks of food waste or greasy products down the sink, as this is a recipe for disaster.

4 Improper Installation: If you hired the cheapest plumber you could find to install your plumbing, or attempted a DIY job, you could be setting yourself up for future problems. Incorrect water flow or poorly installed pipes are bound to create problems later down the track, which are going to be more expensive to fix than hiring a qualified plumber in the first place. This means that when it comes to installation, maintenance or repairs, you can’t look past a licensed, reputable plumber.


5 Foreign Objects: Far too often, people flush things down the toilet or pour things down the sink that do not belong there. This includes nappies, sanitary items, baby wipes or food that may be flushed down and end up causing a blockage. Toiletries are particularly damaging, as they absorb water and expand, causing an even bigger blockage, and pollute the environment. Apart from avoiding this, also be aware of any items that you may have accidentally dropped down the sink, such as jewellery, which may cause a blockage.

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