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How to properly inspect a blocked drain and how to fix it

  • Category: PlumbingLast update: 6 May 2021

Blocked drains can be such a nuisance. When the pipes are clogged, they can cause wastewater to back up into the house thereby creating a smelly mess. The organic matter will also settle in the clogged section of the pipes and start decomposing thereby resulting in unpleasant odors drifting through the house. Clogs must, therefore, be dealt with swiftly before they lead to something else.

blocked drain

Signs of a blocked drain

A stitch in time will save nine. Identifying a possible clog before the problem escalates will make your life easier. Not only will unclogging the pipes be easier but you also get the chance of stopping other serious problems like transmission of diseases. Here are the tell-tale signs that could point to a possible blocked drain.

Gurgling noise in the plumbing – If you hear gurgling sounds in the plumbing, it could be a sign of a blocked drain. This is usually caused by trapped air in the drain. The air could get trapped as a result of the blockage.

Sluggish drain – It makes sense that if there is any blockage in the drain, water will drain slowly. That’s because the water has to filter through the debris that is causing the blockage.

Unpleasant odors – If your nose picks up foul odors in the house or in the yard, do not take it for granted because it could mean that your drain is clogged. Drains can get blocked due to food debris getting stuck in the drain. As bacteria start to break down these food particles, they emit hydrogen sulfide which smells like a rotten egg. This foul smell can find its way back into the house.

Water backing up in the toilet – If you notice the water levels in the toilet rising more than usual, then you probably have a blocked drain. If the blockage is not taken care of as soon as possible, this water could continue rising until it starts to overflow onto the bathroom floor.

Inspecting and unblocking a blocked drain

It can be unnerving to imagine that a drain that is hidden beneath concrete and soil is blocked. How do you reach the drain in these hard-to-reach areas in order to investigate the blockage? Well, you can use CCTV cameras. Not only can the camera help you to locate the exact location of the blockage but you can see what debris is causing the blockage. This can help you to know the best method of unblocking it. The camera can also help you identify if the blockage is caused by some other factor like breaches in the pipe. The subsurface video eliminates guesswork from the diagnosis and this will save you a lot of time and money. After using live and recorded footage to determine the cause of the blockage, you can go ahead and do the unblocking. There are three main techniques that are usually used for this.

Water Jetting

Water jetting is done by using high-pressure water jets to clear the blocked drains. Water jetting is a popular method of clearing blocked drains because it is fast, safe and quite effective. However, it should be used with caution if you have a septic tank because introducing too much water into the septic tank at once could result in hydraulic overloading.

Rubber plunger

Sometimes, a rubber plunger may be sufficient to unblock the drain. Ensure the rubber cup has covered the drain area properly before you start and then run water into the fixture so that you have plenty of water in the sink, tub or toilet. Once this is done, patiently work your plunger by moving it up and down as you observe the water. If it starts flowing normally again, it is a sign that the drain has been successfully unblocked.

Shock treatment

This is by far the safest way of dealing with blocked drains. Shock treatment refers to a biological approach to cleaning blocked drains. You do this by pouring biological additives down the drain. For instance, adding SeptiDrain from bio-Sol will introduce biosurfactant with bacteria which will immediately start to break down the organic matter that has clogged up the system.

Note: drain cleaners are not recommended for the septic system. Even though they will do a good job of unclogging the drains, they are also toxic and will, therefore, affect the bacteria in the septic tank.

Conclusion

Be sure to wear gloves and eye goggles before you start inspecting the drain. Once you are done, remove your clothes and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. Do not hesitate to seek professional help if you are not too sure about how to carry out the inspection. But even if you are handy and the problem is a bit serious, you might still need to call a plumber. The rule of thumb is, it is always better to be safe than to be sorry.

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