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What Causes Drains To Overflow And Backup?

Do your drains often overflow and backup? Then this is just the guide for you as we have listed some common culprits behind this plumbing issue.

Steven Bahbah

Steven Bahbah

Overflowing drains, clogged pipes, sewer backing up— are just some plumbing issues homeowners face from time to time.

But despite being so common, one is never quite prepared for such drainage problems, especially when there can be multiple causes. And without finding and troubleshooting the root cause of the issue, you can never permanently fix your drains.

Today, we have compiled some of the common causes behind overflowing drains to help you prevent recurring plumbing issues and expenses.

What Causes Drains To Overflow And Backup?

1. Tree Roots

Although planting trees is great for the environment, you must be careful when planting one near your residence. This is because tree roots can travel far and wide, searching for water and nutrients.

So, the moment any of your drain pipes get a crack, tree roots will slither through it and grow into the pipes. This causes blockages and structural damage to the drains, resulting in drain water overflowing or backing up.

2. Accumulation Of Foreign Matter

Chunks of hair, toilet paper, sanitary napkins, etc., are like UFOs in your drain! They do not belong there, and their presence will only cause drainage problems. While a few hair strands may look harmless, they can stick together with soap scum, skin flakes and oils, thereby blocking the drains.

Similarly, most “flushable” hygiene products are not… well… flushable! They take a long time to decompose and may get caught in the corners and edges of your drain pipes. So, make sure that you clean your bathroom and kitchen drain regularly to avoid any accumulation of foreign gunk.

3. Broken Sewer Lines

A broken sewer line will allow all waste that is supposed to travel through the drain to escape. However, heavier materials like debris, toiletries, etc., will pile up, causing a blockage in the sewer line.

4. Damaged Pipes

Added to the previous point, damaged pipes are also prone to accumulation of gunk, which blocks water flow. Here, you should also note the age of the pipes as older materials can get easily damaged.

5. Issues In The Main Sewer

Sometimes the problem could be with the main sewer system of the city. The pipes could be damaged due to bad weather, causing issues with your drains. Or, the council could have stopped the drainage from conducting repairs.

In such situations, the wastewater from your drains cannot join the main sewer, resulting in sewage backups.

Tell-tale Signs Of Overflowing Drains

Unlike most plumbing issues that occur without any prior warning, you can prevent overflowing drains to some extent. Since most of the time, the cause of overflowing drains is a blockage, here are some signs you can watch out for:

  • Gurgling pipes
  • Damaged electrical fittings and wiring
  • Leaking walls and roofs
  • Slow draining
  • Foul-smelling water

How To Prevent Overflowing Drains In The Bathroom?

Avoid disposing of toiletries and other bathroom waste down the drains. Make it a habit to get rid of hair strands, soap scum, etc., after a shower by collecting all of it and throwing it in the bin.

Even when using a toilet roll, do not flush it into the toilet and throw it in the bin instead. Also, try not to use excessive toilet paper, paper towels, cotton wool, etc.

If you end up with a blocked drain anyway, start by cleaning the drain stopper. You can then try using a plunger or a hand-powered drain auger. If the blockage is not too severe, chemical cleaners or a vinegar and baking soda mixture can also do the trick.

How To Prevent Overflowing Drains In The Kitchen?

Kitchen drains are prone to slime accumulation from the oils and grease used in cooking. While these substances are liquid, they stick to other smaller particles and dry up to form chunks of slime. Gross!

You can eliminate even the tiniest pieces of food and throw them in the bin before washing the dishes. Also, use enough soaps and detergents to break down the oil particles and prevent any accumulation in the drains.

However, if the problem persists, we recommend contacting a plumber to check the design of the drain line. Sometimes, incorrect venting and slope can prevent the drain from functioning optimally.

How To Prevent Overflowing Outdoor Drains?

Outdoor drains are the most susceptible to damage due to external objects, climatic conditions, etc. Hence, you must clean fallen leaves and other garden waste regularly before they get washed into the drains. We also recommend maintaining a compost heap for leaves and any type of green waste that can turn into natural fertilisers.

Since outdoor drains are trickier to repair, it is best to let a professional plumber handle them in case of blockages. Only they have the right equipment to check hard-to-reach areas and get rid of the root cause of the issue. They are also more capable of providing effective maintenance tips to prevent overflowing drains in the future.

Other Ways To Fix Overflowing Drains

1. Pipe Relining

Pipe relining is an effective and relatively affordable solution for damaged pipes. Unlike a full replacement, relining does not cause much damage to the surrounding area, which means less cleaning to do after the job is done!

2. Excavation

An excavation is imperative if the damage is severe and the pipe needs to be replaced. As the name suggests, this process will require a lot of digging and cost a lot more.

3. Plumber’s Drain Snake

This tool is a must-have in every plumber’s arsenal! Unlike a DIY drain snake, it reaches further into the drains to remove obstructions and blockages.

4. Hydro-Jet

This method is mainly used in combination with other blockage removal techniques. A hydro jet releases intense water spurts to eliminate debris and other obstructions from the drain.

5. Caustic Cleaners

When natural cleaners like baking soda and vinegar cannot eliminate the blockage, you can use chemical cleaners for a more substantial effect. These cleaners disintegrate the oily substances, making it easier to dissolve them and eventually clear up the blockage. But as they contain toxic chemicals, you must read the instructions carefully and maintain all safety precautions.

Solved: Overflowing Drain

Unless the blockage exists in the main sewer line, it is your responsibility to fix your overflowing drain. So, you can start with easier methods like pouring boiling water down the drain or clearing the blockage with a plunger.

However, if the damage is severe, we suggest calling a professional plumber. And here’s a pro tip- check your homeowner's insurance policy before conducting any repairs, as it may cover plumbing damages.

Speak to the team at FTD Pipe Relining if you are in Sydney. Blockage issues and damaged pipelines can be repaired quickly and efficiently by our expert blocked drain specialists.

That’s all, see you next time!

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